Hundreds of Plano ISD students captured awards during the 2014-15 school year. Following are some of many achievements. Find full articles about each of these honors in the news archive section of this website, and read impressive post-secondary readiness statistics in this most recent district report for the Class of 2014.
2015 Valedictorians & Salutatorians
Congratulations to Plano ISD's 2015 valedictorians and salutatorians: Plano East Senior High School's Sean Guo, valedictorian; and Nazia Ahmed and Arav Arora, salutatorians; Plano Senior High School's Marylin Cai, valedictorian; and I-Chun Lin, salutatorian; and Plano West Senior High School's Phillip Yu, valedictorian; and Elizabeth Tian, salutatorian. Read about these top achieving students here.
U.S. Presidential Scholar
Elizabeth Tian, a senior at Plano West Senior High School, was announced as one of 141 United States Presidential Scholars by the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars in May, 2015. Elizabeth was selected based on her demonstrated leadership, scholarship, contribution to school and community and outstanding accomplishments in the arts, sciences, humanities and other fields of interest. Ten Plano ISD students have been named U.S. Presidential Scholars since the early 1980s. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the 51st class of U.S. Presidential Scholars on May 4. “Presidential Scholars demonstrate the accomplishments that can be made when students challenge themselves, set the highest standards, and commit themselves to excellence,” Duncan said. “These scholars are poised to make their mark on our nation.”
Science & Engineering Fair Awards
Swapnav Deka, Plano East Senior High School, brought home gold from the ISWEEEP event and was also awarded at ISEF.
International Sustainable World Energy, Engineering & Environmental Project Symposium
At the International Sustainable World Energy, Engineering, and Environmental Project Symposium ( ISWEEEP), which was held May 7-10 in Houston, 427 projects from 67 countries were entered with 16 Plano ISD students attended the event. Gold awards went to: Arjun Nenta, Plano East Senior High School; Nipun Ramakrishnan, Plano East Senior High School; Swapnav Deka, Plano East Senior High School, University of Texas Scholarship; Sujana Nelakanti and Sakina Plumber, Plano Senior High School, Consumer Energy Alliance Award
Intel Science Talent Search Semifinalists
Five Plano ISD senior high school students captured semifinalists standing in the Intel Science Talent Search (Intel STS), the nation's most prestigious pre-college science competition. Each semifinalist received a $1,000 award from the Intel Foundation with an additional $1,000 going to his or her school. Congratulations to: Ria Chhabra, Plano Senior High School; Alicia D’Souza, Plano East Senior High School; Ahneesh Jayant Mohanty, Plano Senior High School; Raj Munavar Sajjath, Plano West Senior High School; and Phillip Yu, Plano West Senior High School.
International Science & Engineering Fair
Sixteen Plano ISD students attended the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in early May in Pittsburgh, PA. Approximately 1,700 high school students from more than 75 countries, regions and territories are awarded the opportunity to showcase their independent research and compete for approximately $4 million in prizes. Second place awards went to Nicky Wojtania, Jasper High School; Vivianne Tu and Claire Goeckner-Wald, Plano Senior High School' Dara Li and Anoop Vemulapalli, Plano West Senior High School. Special awards were earned by these students: Burzin Balsara, Clark High School; Megan Li and Joycelyn Yan, Clark High School; Vishal and Nisha Rajesh, Plano Senior High School and Jasper High School; Vivianne Tu and Claire Goeckner-Wald, Plano Senior High School; and Dara Li and Anoop Vemulapalli, Plano West Senior High School.
National Junior Science & Engineering Symposium
Mokshin Suri, Plano West Senior High School, placed second in his category and earned an $8,000 scholarship at the National Junior Science and Engineering Symposium (NJSHS), held in Baltimore, MD, in late April, 2015.
ExxonMobil Texas Science & Engineering Fair
Plano ISD students competed at the ExxonMobil Texas Science & Engineering Fair. More than 1,100 students from 12 regional fairs competed. David Yue, Rice Middle School, captured 1st Grand Prize and "Best in Show" for his mathematics project. Michael Farid, McMillen High School; Divya Prabhakaran, Plano East Senior High School; and the team of Joycelyn Yui and Megan Li, Clark High School, qualified for INTEL International Science & Engineering Fair to be held May 10-15, 2015, in Pittsburgh, PA. Plano ISD's senior division contenders captured 47% of the 1st and 2nd place awards.
Dallas Regional Secondary Science & Engineering Fair
Plano ISD students participating in the Beal Bank Dallas Regional Science and Engineering Fair in February, 2015, captured the majority of grand prize and category awards. Eighty-one of their projects advanced to the ExxonMobil State Science & Engineering Fair held in March, 2015, in San Antonio. Nine grand prize and grand prize runner up award winning projects competed at the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair held in May, 2015, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Amanda Moon of Murphy Middle School won a first place ribbon at the regional fair.
Plano ISD Secondary District Science Fair
More than 200 awards (grand prize through honorable mention) were earned by students at the annual Plano ISD Secondary Science Fair held in February, 2015, at Plano West Senior High School. All participating students qualified for the Beal Bank Dallas Regional Science and Engineering Fair. Grand prize award winners were (senior division) Burzin Balsara, Clark High School and (junior division) Malvika Manoj, Rice Middle School.
Dallas Regional Elementary Science Fair
Plano ISD students swept the grand prize awards, capturing 52 total awards (including grand prize, 1st-3rd place and honorable mention awards) at the Elementary Regional Science Fair held in February at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland. Plano ISD students competed against peers from Allen, Mesquite, McKinney, Garland, Richardson and Carrollton-Farmers Branch. Congratulations to the following grand prize award winners: Siri Peddinti & Navmi Srithaj, Schell Elementary; Sara Hayes, Carlisle Elementary; Harshal Bharatia, Shepard Elementary; and Peyton Browder, Schimelpfenig Middle School.
Approximately 100 Plano ISD students in grades 1-6 submitted entries in the annual regional fair. Each school advanced two grand prize winners to the fair where their projects were judged by area business and university representatives. One grand prize winner was selected at the building level from grades 1-3 and one from grades 4-5. At middle schools, three to four projects were advanced for each sixth grade.
Academic & Extracurricular Awards
Speech & Debate Honors and Championships
A team of nine students from Plano High School (PSHS) advanced to the “Top 32” round of an international debate competition. The Bickel & Brewer/New York University International Public Policy Forum (IPPF) is the first and only competition that gives high school students around the world the opportunity to engage in written and oral debates on issues of public policy.
The Plano ISD Speech Department sent five high school and senior high school teams to the state speech tournament held in El Paso during the spring of 2015. With 1,573 entries from 210 teams in the tournament, Plano ISD sent 84 students including 106 event entries in 15 events. Among the top qualifying teams, Plano West Senior High School had the second highest number of qualifications at 37 with Plano Senior High School coming in at 32. To conclude the outstanding achievements of the tournament, Plano West Senior High School was awarded the third place sweepstakes award. Plano Senior High School received the first place award for the 15th time in the last 20 years.
Plano Senior High School teammates won the first place sweepstakes award at the state speech tournament.
Geography State Awards Sweep
Plano ISD students swept the eight top awards in the Texas Alliance for Geographic Education's 2014 Geography Awareness Poster Contest, "The Geography of Food." Congratulations to students in the grades K-2 category: 1st place - Shriya Iyer, Beverly Elementary; 2nd place - Dmitry Duniphin, Daffron Elementary; 3rd place - Om Mehrotra, Andrews Elementary; and People's Choice - Giselle Carrizales, Jackson Elementary. In the grades 3-5 category, winners were: 1st place - Taarena Rathore, Hunt Elementary; 2nd place - Sidhya Peddinti, Schell Elementary; 3rd place - Bennett Solis, Boggess Elementary; and People's Choice - Jai Surya Pranav Gudla, Haun Elementary.
State MathCounts Contenders and Awards
Students at each Plano ISD middle school participated in a regional MathCounts competition, with five
middle school teams and/or individuals qualifying for the state contest which was held in late March, 2015, in Austin. Students attending the state competition attended school at Murphy, Otto, Rice (3rd place team), Robinson, Schimelpfenig (4th place team).
Career & Technical Education
Some 131 Plano ISD Career and Technical Education (CTE) students advanced to state level competitions following success at area and regional events. Nineteen Plano ISD CTE students advanced to national/international level competitions in their various organizations, which promote proficiencies in such fields as business, computer science/programming, education, fashion design, food science/culinary arts, graphic design and illustration, marketing, ag science, health science, auto tech and criminal justice. A total of 1,713 certifications/licensures were received by Plano ISD CTE students during the 2014-15 school year. CTE students logged over 4,000 hours in community service projects.
Plano East Senior High School student Maddy Reed won first place in customer service in the state SkillsUSA contest. Maddy also competed at the National SkillsUSA conference held in June in Louisville, Kentucky.
Collin County Spelling Bee Sweep
Plano ISD students swept the top three awards at the Collin County Spelling Bee in February, 2015, with Nairit Sarkar of Skaggs Elementary School winning the championship and advancing to the Dallas Morning News Regional Spelling Bee broadcast live in March from the WFAA Studios in Dallas.
Dallas Area & State Regional History Day Competition
Several Plano ISD students won awards at the 2015 Dallas Area History Day Competition held in February at the George W. Bush Library and SMU in Dallas. Competing were students from Murphy Middle School and Plano East Senior High School. Students who won 1st or 2nd place advanced to the Texas State History Day competition held in May in Austin. Ten students from Plano East Senior High School, presenting in three separate teams at the state event, captured one 3rd place award for group performance and two 4th place awards for group exhibit and documentary, respectively.
Fire Prevention Poster Contest Winners
Several Plano ISD students were recognized by the City of Plano Fire Department for capturing awards in the city level Fire Prevention Week Poster Contest. The students' winning posters advanced to the district level competition to compete against posters in other cities in the area. First place winners in their divisions were Angela Campbell, Miller Elementary; Shreya Kharwar, Wyatt Elementary; Praneel Seth, Andrews Elementary; Joshua Wang, Robinson M.S.; Jesse Fung, Frankford M.S.; and Sarah Cheeran, IB World School at Plano East Senior High School.
2014 City of Plano Fire Department Fire Prevention Week Poster Contest winners and officials
Student Councils of Excellence Awards
Four Plano ISD elementary schools were among 104 Texas campuses to have earned 2015 Student Council of Excellence awards sponsored by the National Association of Elementary School Principals. Hedgcoxe, Hughston, Rasor and Skaggs student councils were awarded based on community service, student leadership, citizenship and school spirit. The National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) Foundation sponsors the NAESP Honor Council Excellence Award program. The goal of the program is to recognize student councils for outstanding participation in the following areas: community service, student leadership, citizenship and school spirit.
Fine Arts Awards
The Texas Music Educators Association announced the selection of 85 Plano ISD students for positions in 2014-15 coveted all-state music groups. These students spent three days of intensive rehearsals with outstanding guest conductors and a concert before the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) membership on Saturday, February 14, 2015, in San Antonio.
Honor Music Groups
The Rice Middle School Ravens Band captured the exclusive 2014 John Philip Sousa Foundation Sudler Cup, a prestigious national award typically presented to no more than one or two middle school bands in the world each year. Earning the award required an extensive evaluation process of the Rice band spanning several years.
The John Philip Sousa Foundation has named the Rice Middle School Band, under the able direction of Jason Tucker, Amber Garduno and David Lipe as a recipient of the 2015 Sudler Cup. This award seeks to "identify, recognize and honor the most selective junior high and middle school concert band programs for demonstrating significantly high standards of excellence in concert activities over a period of several years." The physical award, a beautiful engraved silver cup, will be presented to the staff and students at a public performance in the Spring by members of the John Philip Sousa Foundation.
2014 Honor Orchestra competition sponsored by the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) were announced during the joint summer conferences in late July. Plano Senior High School Full Orchestra, under the direction of Brian Coatney, Tara Cesario and Jeremy Kondrat, was named High School Honor Full Orchestra and performed for the TMEA participants at their annual clinic/convention held February 12-14, 2015 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio. In the Middle School division Rice Middle School Orchestras earned second place in the Full Orchestra category and the String Orchestra ranked fifth in that competition. In the 2014 String Orchestra competition, Jasper High School Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of Ryan Ross, was named First Runner Up and Plano West Senior High School Chamber Orchestra, directed by Jo Wallace-Abbie placed third.
Plano West Senior High School Choir Director Kathy Hackett received the 2014 Choral Excellence Award from the Texas Choral Directors Association. The award was presented in recognition of her distinguished career directing choirs that have performed at the highest levels of artistry. Choirs under Mrs. Hackett's direction have performed by invitation for the Texas Music Educators Association and American Choral Directors Association on multiple occasions.
Mark of Excellence Awards in Band and Orchestra
Nine Plano ISD ensembles were selected from a field of 224 entries from 35 states for distinction in the five categories of competition in 2014 Mark of Excellence Awards, based on performance recordings. The top quarter in each category are selected as National Winners and the second quarter receive Commended Honors.
- National Winners included the Plano East Senior High School Wind Ensemble, Evelio Villarreal, director; Jasper High School Symphony Orchestra, Ryan Ross and Jackie Digby, directors; Plano East Senior High School Chamber Orchestra, Betsy Thomas, director (retired); Plano West Senior High School Chamber Orchestra, Jo Wallace-Abbie, director; and Murphy Middle School Chamber Orchestra, Brian Henson, director.
- Commended Honors went to the Clark High School Chamber Orchestra, Brian Eaton and Brad Davis, directors; Jasper High School Wind Ensemble, Jackie Digby, director; Rice Middle School Wind Ensemble, Jason Tucker, director; and Robinson Middle School Wind Ensemble.
Texas State Capitol Art Exhibit
Artworks designed by seven Plano ISD students was selected for the 2015 State Youth Art Month Capitol Exhibit. The students were awarded during a spring ceremony at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin. Congratulations to Shenai Chan, Robinson Middle School; Susie Chang, Skaggs Elementary School; Faith Edge, Haun Elementary School; Ruth Kwan, Plano Senior High School; Hyeon Doh Lee, Plano West Senior High School; Danna Shrem, Mitchell Elementary School; and Chloe Vogt, Plano West Senior High School.
Young Masters Exhibition
Twenty-five works of art by Plano ISD students were included in the 2015 Young Masters Exhibit on display spring, 2015, at the Dallas Museum of Art. This year, 124 teachers and 1,519 students from 16 Dallas-area high schools participated in the program. For this exhibition there were 750 pieces submitted for consideration. Of the 61 works selected, 25 are from Plano ISD.
“Self Portrait” by Shenai Chan, seventh grade student at Robinson Middle School, was among the student artworks exhibited at the Texas State Capitol spring of 2015.
VASE Art Competitions
The Region 10 VASE (Visual Arts Scholastic Event) contest, held at a Plano ISD high school, attracted 1,656 artworks submitted by students in several school districts: 750 works were original creations by Plano ISD students in grades 9-12. Judges selected 113 works to advance to the State VASE contest. Of the 113 selected works, 63 were by Plano ISD students. At State VASE, 1,026 students earned a "4" rating; 177 artworks were selected as Gold Seal winners, including 10 works by Plano ISD students.
UIL One-Act Play Competitions
The three Plano ISD senior high schools competed in the University Interscholastic League’s (UIL) One-Act Play competition spring of 2015. Plano ISD students represented in an outstanding manner with two of the advancing plays, best actor Seun Williams, Plano East Senior High School (pictured), three of the eight all-star casts and four of the eight honorable mention all-star cast awards. Plano East’s All’s Well that Ends Well and Plano West’s The Crucible advanced to the 8-6A District One-Act Play Competition held in April. Plays were selected on a ballot of nine criterion and designated as an advancing play with awards also presented to the best actor, best actress, all-star cast, honorable mention all-star cast, outstanding technicians and best technical group.
Six Plano ISD middle schools competed to a full house in the UIL One-Act Play contest in March, 2015. Robinson and Renner middle schools captured first place awards during "A" and "B" competitions, respectively.
Dallas Summer Musicals High School Musical Theatre Awards
Dallas Summer Musicals announced its nominees in fifteen categories of awards for the 2015 Dallas Summer Musicals High School Musical Theatre Awards presented in April 29 at Fair Park in Dallas. The red carpet event recognized the top performing schools for their efforts in musical theatre production. A panel of three judges attended 72 productions across North Texas prior to announcing ten nominees in each category. Congratulations to these Plano ISD nominees: Plano West Senior High School for best crew/technical execution, lighting design, scenic design, actor (Chris Clark), actress (Meg Gerinde) and show (Jesus Christ Superstar); and Plano Senior High School for best crew/technical execution, ensemble/chorus, lighting design, actor (Tanner Dillon) and show (Hello Dolly!).
PTA Reflections Competition
Nearly 300 students were awarded for their original entries in the Plano ISD Council of PTAs' 2015 Reflections program. Students were recognized at an awards ceremony held in April 8 at Plano ISD's Sockwell Center. "The World Would Be A Better Place If…" was the theme for the annual contest, which generated 1,826 participants across the school district, including 534 submissions to the council. The council submitted 21 of the local entries to the Texas PTA Reflections Program, where 16 were awarded and one was sent to National PTA for judging.
Varsity Athletics Achievements
2015 State Champions
Plano West Senior High School Wolves Boys Basketball Team won the UIL Class 6A boys state basketball championship on March 14, 2015 in a buzzer-beater 56-54 finish against Houston Clear Lake High School at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
Luci Schement, a senior at Plano East Senior High School and Plano ISD's first girls' state wrestling champion, was recognized by school trustees at their June 2 meeting.
District Girls' Wrestling Coach Eric Semifero introduced Luci to the school board, describing her as "the kind of athlete who comes along once in your career."
"In nineteen years of coaching football, soccer, track and wrestling - from five-year-olds to varsity - I've never had a better athlete than Luci," said Coach Semifero. "Whether it was extra practices, extra lifting, extra running, going to camps, finding tougher workout partners, grinding out one more rep, working a technique until it was perfect, Luci did it. And, to top it all off, she holds a 4.2 GPA, plays several instruments, is a world-record holding power lifter and has one of the biggest hearts of any person I've ever known."
Coach Eric Semifero and State Champion Luci Schement are pictured following her recognition at the June 2 meeting of the Plano ISD Board of Trustees.
More Achievements (alpha order by sport)
- Plano East = Plano East Senior High School
- Plano = Plano Senior High School
- Plano West = Plano West Senior High School
Baseball – Plano: 4th in District 6-6A, advanced to Bi-District playoffs
Basketball (Boys) – Plano West: 6A Boys Basketball State Champion - the first state championship for the Plano West Boys Basketball program
Basketball (Girls) – Plano West: District 6-6A Champion, advanced to final round of regionals; Plano: advanced to regional quarterfinal round; Plano East: 4th place and great turn around season 0-12 in district prior year to 8-8 in 2014-15 school year
Cross Country – Plano East: one boy advanced to regionals; Plano West: boys team advanced one athlete to state.
Football – Plano West: 2nd in District 6-6A and advanced to the Area round in the 6A Division I playoffs; Plano: 4th in District 6-6A and were a 6A Division II Bi District Finalist
Golf – Plano West: Boys 2nd place in District 6-6A, 2nd at regionals, 3rd in the state tournament; Girls teams both took 2nd place in District 6-6A and advanced to the regional tournament, sent one medalist to the state meet; Plano - Boys advanced one athlete medalist to regionals; Plano East: Girls advance one medalist to regionals and one girl to the state meet.
Soccer – Plano West: Boys and Girls Soccer both took 2nd place in District 6-6A and advanced to the area round
Softball – Plano: 4th in District 6-6A and Bi-District finalist; Plano West 3rd in District 6-6A and Bi-District Finalists
Swimming – All three senior high school teams qualified athletes for the Regional Meet; Plano: advanced 13 athletes to the State Meet and took a bronze medal in the Boys 200 Medley Relay; Plano West: advanced one athlete to the State Meet
Team Tennis – Plano West: state semifinalist
Tennis (Spring) – Plano: advanced one boy to regionals; Plano West: advanced one girls doubles to state and one mixed doubles to state
Track – Plano: 7 girls advanced to regionals, 2 boys advanced to state; Plano East: 7 girls advanced to state meet, 2 boys advanced to state meet; Plano West: 10 girls and 11 boys advanced to regional meets
Volleyball – Plano: 4th in District 6-6A, advanced to bi-district
Wrestling – All three senior high school teams had qualified athletes – 25 Boys and 7 Girls – to participate in the Regional Meet; Plano East's Luciana Schement took a Gold medal at the State Tournament (119 lbs.), making her the first State Champion in Girls Wrestling for Plano ISD.
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