Our celebration of excellence continued this week featuring
the amazing accomplishments of Indianapolis Public Schools Valedictorians and
Salutatorians. On Tuesday, June 2, our Vals and Sals joined their families,
favorite teachers, principals, school board members and IPS leaders for a
recognition dinner. It was a wonderful opportunity to show our appreciation for
the years of hard work our students put in to reach top of the class honors!

The Madame Walker Theatre Center hosted our Vals and Sals
dinner, where students sat with Superintendent Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee and Board
Commissioners to share a meal and discuss their experiences with IPS and plans
for the future.

“When I first saw the pictures from your photo shoot this
spring,” said Dr. Ferebee to the group, “I thought we hired models!”

These students certainly have great looks with brains and
resilience to match; all of our Vals and Sals are headed to colleges including
Purdue, Ball State, DePauw, IUPUI and the University of Indianapolis.

“You know the saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child,’”
said Broad Ripple Magnet High School for the Arts and Humanities Principal Mike
Akers. “Well we are your villagers…and you all have made your village very
proud.”

Our top scholars will deliver speeches at graduation next
week; first, they tested their public speaking skills on attendees at the
dinner. In a focus group format, students frankly shared reflections on their
time in IPS, thoughts about where the district excels and suggestions for
improvement.

“I feel that IPS is very community-centric,” said George
Washington Community High School Salutatorian Donald B., “not just community
like the West side or downtown or Broad Ripple, but bringing us all together as
one big family.”

“Thanks to all of my amazing teachers at IPS,” said John
Marshall Community High School Salutatorian Joana A., who expressed emotion as
she acknowledged the John Marshall educators who came to support her at the
event. “My teachers have done so much to help me get through school and ready
for college. All of the teachers in this room – they’re the reason we’re here
today.”

Some of the constructive criticism shared by our highest
achievers included more rigorous academic guidelines for magnet students,
retention of teachers and finding new ways to motivate students. But for
Northwest Community High School Valedictorian Alexis S., an ideal improvement is
simple.

“If you could do something to make school lunch better, that
would be great,” she said among the chuckles of the crowd.

We’re delighted to share this special time with our Vals and
Sals and look forward to celebrating the last milestone of their high school
careers at graduation next Tuesday. Look out for billboards around our city
honoring the top students of IPS along with ads in our local newspapers as we
wrap up graduation season! Thanks to the generous funding support of committed
partners, IPS has for the first time ever been able to provide our top scholars
the recognition they deserve, hopefully inspiring many other students to work
harder and reach farther.