Today, we recognize four young scholars— Bianca Couture, Ashdon Reynolds, Alton Skinner, and Brianna Smith. These students have not only demonstrated a commitment to learning, but also lead by example in their communities, whether through academic pursuits, talent or service to their communities. We honor them today with a scholarship made possible through the Dr. William “Bill” Miles Young Scholars Memorial Scholarship Fund of the NEA Foundation.
A friend and colleague to all of us, Bill served as NEA Foundation Director of Programs until April 10, 2010. His legacy was one of countless students whose lives were transformed by his service as a teacher, school administrator, and leader in educational philanthropy. The NEA Foundation was honored to lay claim to Bill’s expertise and vision throughout the last three years of his life. He helped guide our effort to empower educators, schools, and districts in their quest to rethink and renew their work on behalf of students.
In each of these four students, we see a story of exceptional achievement made possible by the hard work, passion, and professional commitment of the teachers who inspire them.
On behalf of the Dr. William “Bill” Miles Young Scholars Memorial Scholarship Fund benefactors, and the NEA Foundation Board of Directors and staff, please join us in congratulating our new scholars.
Bianca Couture, Springfield, MA
Bianca Couture has been an Alto and Alto Section Leader with the Central High School Madrigal Singers in Springfield, MA since 2009. Since the summer of 2010, she has interned at the Children’s Chorus of Springfield where she helps teach children musicianship skills and organizes musical acts. In addition, Couture has performed with the Western District Chorus and in three Central High School Plays.
A senior this year, she ranks 16 out of 408 in her class and presently holds a 4.0 grade point average.
Ashdon Reynolds, Springfield, MA
Ashdon Reynolds is a lead percussionist in Springfield’s High School of Science and Technology Band Program. As member of the Sci-Tech Band leadership team, he also mentors elementary and high school students weekly in conjunction with the school’s Mentoring Through Music Program. Reynolds has performed at many Springfield venues including churches, the Arts Alive Music Festival and the Winterfest Music Festival. He has also performed nationally with the Drum Corps.
Reynolds aims to compose his own music and to influence and inspire whole communities–to show that music can save lives. He plans on attending Berkley School of Music to pursue a degree in music performance and music composition.
Alton Skinner, Springfield, MA
Alton Skinner’s interest in music started with the Springfield (MA) High School of Science and Technology Sci-Tech Band. During his sophomore year, he began to play the alto saxophone. As a result of Skinner’s rapid growth as a musician and his dedication to music, he is now the leader of more than 300 students as President of the Band Program. He has performed at many Springfield venues and with the United States Navy Band.
Skinner hopes to major in Music Performance at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and plans to pursue a varied music career.
Briana Smith, Springfield, VA
Briana Smith is a senior at West Springfield High School in Springfield, VA and currently has a 3.9 grade point average. Smith has a passion for writing and reading fiction. She also enjoys participating in her school’s Dynasty Step Team and is currently the captain. Smith interns at Cultural Tourism DC and is also a member of Active Minds, YOUnity (a minority affairs club) and the History Honor Society.
Smith has been accepted at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA where she will major in Interdisciplinary Studies with a double major in Elementary Education and Medieval and Renaissance Studies. She plans to be a third grade teacher.