Three Washington County area high school students have been honored as "scholars of distinction" by the state Department of Education.

The awards are presented annually to highly motivated, self-directed students in the areas of science, math, social studies, theater arts, leadership and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), the department's website states.

This year, 42 students were honored during the ceremony on May 18 at the Perpich Center for Arts Education in Golden Valley.

One local honoree, Andy Ylitalo, a senior at Stillwater Area High School, captured his award in the same week that he competed at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix. He was named a scholar of distinction in the areas of science, mathematics and STEM.

The other students attend Woodbury High School. They are Amrita Mohanty, a scholar of distinction in social studies, whose video presentation about the impediments faced by Hmong high school students can be seen on YouTube, and Samyuktha Melachuri, a scholar of distinction in science.

According to the department, students earn recognition by completing required work on the state's academic standards, demonstrating a mastery of complex subjects and applying knowledge and skills on challenging projects.

North St. Paul

Student's artwork gains Capitol audience

"Yellow Wallpaper," a photography/mixed media piece created by North High student Jessica Points, is to be displayed beginning next month at the U.S. Capitol, the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale School District said.

The distinction comes after the artwork took first-place in a congressional art show hosted by U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., at the Union Depot in St. Paul.

Points' piece will be displayed in the visitor's entrance hallway at the Capitol, the district said. She also received two round-trip tickets to Washington, D.C., to attend the opening ceremony in June.


BPA students fare well at national conference

Twelve students in Tartan High School's Business Professionals of America (BPA) program competed this month at a national conference in Orlando, Fla., with one student, Emily Phuong Lee, earning second place in the category of advanced interview skills.

Another student, Christie Her, placed 14th in advanced office systems and procedures, and teamed with classmate Belinda Xiong to play a leading role in the Tartan chapter's "BPA Cares" community relief project — one of five nationally to win special honors, a school district news release said.

Also honored for their participation in community events were Aimee Yang, Michael Vang, Emily Phuong Lee, Bao Yang, Mai Moua Vang, Tomi Olateju, Surina Lee, Kang Yang, Cheng Mor Vang and Cheethum Yang.

The five-day national event drew 6,000 people.

forest lake

Teacher collects kudos from on high

Teacher Appreciation Week ended surprisingly for Forest Lake Area High School science teacher Bruce Leventhal on May 10 with a call from a U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. It was one of five calls Duncan reportedly made to teachers that day congratulating them for their work.

Anthony Lonetree