Olentangy Berlin student named US Presidential Scholar


Olentangy Berlin High School senior Annabella Burton Boone has been selected as a 2024 United States Presidential Scholar, the U.S. Department of Education announced last week.

Burton Boone is one of 161 outstanding American high school seniors who have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement, artistic excellence, technical expertise, leadership, citizenship, service, and contribution to school and community.

“The 161 high school seniors selected for the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Presidential Scholars program represent the best of our nation’s schools and inspire hope in the bright future of this country,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona in a press release. “On behalf of President (Joe) Biden, I am delighted to celebrate their accomplishments, and encourage these scholars to continue to aim high, lift up others, and embrace opportunities to lead.”

The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars selects scholars annually based on academic success and excellence in the arts and technical education through essays, school evaluations and transcripts. Students must also demonstrate commitment to community service and leadership.

Two students from each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and U.S. families living abroad are selected as scholars. Fifteen students are also chosen at-large, and 20 scholars in both the arts and career and technical education are also selected.

“Of the 3.7 million students expected to graduate from high school this year, more than 5,700 candidates qualified for the 2024 awards determined by outstanding performance on the College Board SAT or ACT exams or through nominations made by chief state school officers, other partner recognition organizations and YoungArts, the National Foundation for the Advancement of Artists,” the release stated.

Burton Boone said she was simply happy to be in the running with “so many talented people” and called the moment she was notified of the honor “joyous” while expressing gratitude to her parents, teachers, and mentors for their support and encouragement.

She added, “I feel very lucky and honored to represent my school and Ohio, and I’m excited to meet the other scholars from across the country. I feel a sense of responsibility to do something valuable with this opportunity. I’m not yet sure what, but my interests are in environmental science and linguistics as an area of research that can contribute to community building. No matter what, I’m excited to work alongside others toward a better future.”

Berlin Principal Todd Spinner said of Burton Boone’s honor, “Annabella is an involved, dedicated, kind, and passionate person, and truly deserving of this prestigious recognition. She leads by example, serves others, and truly loves to learn.”

Since 1983, each U.S. Presidential Scholar has been offered the opportunity to name their most influential teacher as a U.S. Presidential Scholars Distinguished Teacher honoree. Each distinguished teacher is honored with a personal letter from the secretary of education. The teacher chosen for recognition by Burton Boone was Michelle Mimna, an English teacher at Berlin.

In her nomination essay for Mimna, Burton Boone recalled her feelings of isolation heading into her sophomore year following the COVID-19 pandemic. To further complicate the year, Burton Boone attended both Berlin and the district’s STEM Academy, ultimately directing her path toward Mimna.

“Because of STEM, my class choices at Berlin were limited,” Burton Boone recounted in the essay. “For English, there was an AP class taught by Ms. Mimna. All the kids in the class were seniors, but after asking me a few questions, Ms. Mimna took a chance on me. Every day when I stepped foot into her class, it was like colors became brighter. I became part of a community and was excited about learning as much as I could. Our conversations about synthesis and narrative structure opened up new ways of seeing storytelling all around us — in ads, clothing, books, and speeches. Ms. Mimna valued our ideas, listened to us, and taught us to listen; and in the process, she brought together people disjointed by COVID-19 and helped us feel connected and hopeful again.”

As a junior, Burton Boone continued her English studies with an AP literature independent study, which Mimna led despite a schedule that included coaching the volleyball team, running the class cabinet, and various volunteer responsibilities. The two would meet during their lunch break to discuss various literary pieces such asFrankenstein,” “Beloved,” and “The Awakening.”

“Ms. Mimna gave her own time to help me learn, not just about literature, but about life,” Burton Boone said. “Her support and unwavering belief in me as a student helped to build my confidence as a scholar and my commitment to lifelong learning. I’m profoundly grateful to her as a teacher, mentor, and inspiration.”

Spinner said of Burton Boone’s nomination, “Michelle Mimna is a special kind of teacher that gets the best out of her students by using strategic encouragement while challenging them to reach their potential. She is a leader for staff and students as a department chair, a coach, and a senior class advisor.”

The 2024 class of Presidential Scholars will be recognized for their outstanding achievement this summer with an online recognition program.

Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on X @DillonDavis56.

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