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Outstanding Seniors Chosen for Principal’s Awards

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Outstanding Seniors Chosen for Principal’s Awards
Posted on 05/12/2021
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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 2021 MPA Principal’s Award winners from the Portland Public Schools’ three high schools are: Audrey Watson, Portland High School, selected by Principal Sheila Jepson; Emma Carleton, Deering High School, selected by Co-Principals Abdullahi Ahmed and Alyson Dame; and Yusur Jasim, Casco Bay High School, selected by Principal Derek Pierce.

Award winners and their principals will participate in a Live Virtual Scholarship Drawing Event on Friday, May 14 at 1 p.m., in which 10 scholarships worth $1,000 will be drawn. The Principal’s Award is presented in more than 100 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, as described by the principals of their schools:

Yusur Jasim, Casco Bay High School: “Yusur is the consummate student and citizen: a ravenous, powerful learner, deeply dependable, equally passionate about ideas and others - and just thoroughly kind.
Yusur arrived in Maine from Turkey in eighth grade with scant English. She spent her first ten years in Baghdad where many days school was not safe or available for girls. And yet, Yusur has consistently been one of our very top scholars. She’s on track to graduate Summa Cum Laude. She has earned the Seal of Biliteracy twice, for fluency in English, Arabic and Turkish. For her senior expedition, she created a gorgeous and moving children's book about Islamophobia. Copies of the book are available now in PPS libraries.
Yusur is no extrovert, but her commitment to learning and justice squashes any timidity in her genes. Yusur unabashedly ‘loves school’ and has capitalized on most any opportunity to serve and lead. She was the captain of our Mock Trial team and the past vice-chair of student government. Yusur is the only student in our school’s 16-year history to win both the Habits of Work Student of the Year Award and, the highest honor our faculty bestows, the Navigator Award for Excellence in Leadership.
Yusur has embodied our school motto, ‘Get Smart to Do Good.’  She will be attending Bowdoin College next fall.”

Emma Carleton, Deering High School: “What makes Emma a standout student is that, in addition to being a top student in rigorous AP and honors classes, she exhibits a deeply palpable sense of compassion toward anyone in the fortunate space of her orbit.
Emma, as a young girl, grew up watching and helping her mom, who is a dedicated, veteran teacher of special education at Small Elementary School. Emma has spent lots of time working with children with special needs, and her respect for each and every student, coupled with her fun-loving personality, and gentle demeanor, made her a popular addition to the educational setting.
It is primarily through her early experience working with elementary-age children that Emma decided to focus the lion’s share of her attention in her high school years on the health and well-being of all by volunteering for the Yellow Tulip Project (YTP) in Portland. YTP’s mission is to smash the stigma around mental illness. As Youth Board Director, Emma has spearheaded fundraising events and acts as the coach for the Council of Ambassadors Network of Teens.
Emma will be attending Northeastern University in Boston this fall, where she plans to meld her love of children with her innate ability to be aware of and act accordingly regarding the mental and physical needs of those around her by pursuing a collegiate major in nursing.”

Audrey Watson, Portland High School: “Each year the principal from every high school in Maine selects a student who they believe exemplifies leadership in their school. For me that is Audrey!! 
Her energy and ideas, her great advocacy for all students and her steadfast desire to “do good” is so impressive. Audrey is Student Body President and I have enjoyed working with her this past crazy year. Through a pandemic, her leadership has moved our Student Council in very positive directions. I’m very thankful to her for all she has done to set a forward-looking tone for our school and for her classmates.  I truly believe that she has set the bar for the underclassmen and for our Student Council, and that will continue after she has passed the gavel to the next Student Body President 
I feel honored to have known Audrey this year and am so happy to recognize her with this award. Portland High School has gained from her leadership and commitment. 
Audrey is planning to go to the University of San Francisco and major in English.
She is a great student, a great student leader and an all-around amazing young lady.  The future is bright for her and I look forward to hearing about her success post high school.”
PHOTOS: Pictured below (from left) are seniors Yusur Jasim, CBHS; Emma Carleton, DHS; and Audrey Watson, PHS
Yusur JasminEmma CarletonAudrey Watson

The Portland Public Schools is Maine’s largest school district, with 6,500 students, and is also the most diverse. About one-third of the district’s students come from homes where languages other than English are spoken—a total of more than 60 languages. 52 percent of the district’s students are white and 48 percent are students of color. Approximately half of PPS students qualify for free or reduced school meals.