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Standout Students Win Principal’s Awards

Each year, Maine high school principals nominate one senior from their schools to receive an MPA Principal’s Award. The award, sponsored by the Maine Principals' Association, is given in recognition of a high school senior's academic achievement and good citizenship.

The 2023 MPA Principal’s Award winners from the Portland Public Schools’ three high schools are: Abdullah Alzamilli, at Portland High School, selected by Principal Sheila Jepson; Anja Franck at Deering High School, selected by Co-Principal and Interim Assistant Superintendent Dr. Abdullahi Ahmed; and Greta Holmes at Casco Bay High School, selected by Principal Derek Pierce.

Award winners and their principals from more than 100 schools around the state will be recognized at an Honors Luncheon on Saturday, April 1, in Brewer, where each outstanding student will be presented with an individual plaque. In addition, 10 students will be selected to receive $1,000 scholarships in the names of former Maine principals and MPA Executive Directors: Horace O. McGowan, Richard W. Tyler, and Richard A. Durost.

The Principal's Award is presented in Maine public and private high schools by member principals of the MPA, the professional association that represents Maine's school administrators.

Below is more information about this year’s PPS winners and their accomplishments.

Here’s how CBHS Principal Derek Pierce describes Greta Holmes:

"Whether she’s sailing from Florida to Maine on a wooden schooner or presenting to a team of innovators at The Roux Institute about a better off-shore wind turbine, whether she’s inspiring classmates to plant 100 trees or gathering samples from the Sheepscot River for Bigelow Labs, Greta Holmes is the unassuming, spectacularly capable, go-to team member. A top scholar, an aspiring scientist, a generous collaborator and a most dependable, lovely human, Greta is this year's winner of Casco Bay's MPA award."

PHS Principal Sheila Jepson shared this impressive information about Abdullah Alzamilli:

Abdullah Alzamilli is active and involved in the life of our school. He maintains a 99 GPA in honors and Advanced Placement classes – always challenging himself in the classroom.

Not only is he a top academic student, he is also a strong athlete and an incredible young leader. He has thrived on the varsity wrestling team, which has required intensity and determination and has helped him become a stronger person more confident in who he is.  Abdullah has served on the Student Council since grade 9 in increasing roles of responsibility, including serving as our high school’s only student representative to our local school board, effectively sharing students’ perspectives and concerns in an eloquent and compelling manner during many meetings where contentious issues were debated. He is the chair of the Student Council’s fundraising committee and the treasurer of his class this year. In October, he was elected as the President of the National Honor Society, which focuses on community service and giving back to the school in members’ senior years."

Here's what Dr. Ahmed wrote this praise of Anja Franck in a recommendation letter:

“I have known Anja for the past four years. As a school administrator and community member, I have had an opportunity to observe her participation and interaction with the school community.  She is an excellent student, whose contributions to the climate and culture of our student body are truly remarkable.

In the classroom, she is an outstanding student in all respects. She is curious, perseverant, and generous – she brings others along with her enthusiasm for the material and her openness to others.  She is both a top academic performer, and someone who has found a true connection to learning which will keep her curious long after the extrinsic motivation of grades is gone.

Anja’s leadership skills are outstanding and values-driven.  Anja is a friendly, outgoing, and involved student, who models for others how hard work, follow-through, and teamwork can bring the community together. She is deeply insightful, and accepting of all people.  A gifted speaker, she often volunteers to speak publicly, representing Deering and encouraging her peers. 

She brings these talents to a variety of groups across campus, including Natural Helpers (a peer support group), National Honor Society, the Civil Rights Team, and more.  Her work on these teams has not been superficial or done for accolades – her drive to unite and empower Maine’s most diverse student body is deeply grounded in her beliefs about inclusion, and that authenticity is key to her effectiveness.

Anja is also a leader in the sport fields. As the captain of the Lacrosse Team, she facilitates a culture of collaboration and teamwork, and the team has grown under her leadership. 

These accomplishments are already paying off – in her junior year, she won a Book Award for Dartmouth! We know that is just the beginning. Her hard work, intelligence, and dedication to education prepare her beautifully. I recommend Anja without reservation. I am confident that because of her maturity, enthusiasm for learning, and acceptance of responsibility, she will make a lasting positive contribution to any community.”

First page of the PDF file: AnjaFranck-DHS