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2016 Principal’s Awards go to: Moses Small, Sahra Ahmed, Josie Pierce

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2016 Principal’s Awards go to: Moses Small, Sahra Ahmed, Josie Pierce
Posted on 04/04/2016
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The 2016 MPA Principal’s Award winners from the Portland Public Schools’ three high schools are: Moses Small, Portland High School; Josie Pierce, Casco Bay High School; and Sahra Ahmed, Deering High School. The students received their awards at an Honors Luncheon in Bangor on April 2.

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 citizenship.

Below is more information about this year’s winners from the Portland Public Schools and their accomplishments, as described by the principals of their schools and other school staff:

Moses Small, senior, Portland High School:

Throughout his years at Portland High School, Moses has distinguished himself in the classroom, in the performing arts, and as a leader in the school and the community. Moses is the “Voice of Portland High,” responsible for daily school announcements and serving as emcee for a variety of school functions. As a junior, Moses interned at Maine Public Broadcasting Network.

“He is an outstanding school citizen, a natural leader and an impressive role model,” said PHS Principal Deborah Migneault. “Moses is a strong student academically who has availed himself of every opportunity to learn and to make a difference.”

As a member of Seeds of Peace, whose mission is to create strong leaders and future change makers, Moses has helped to organize and facilitate student dialogues at PHS around controversial topics. He serves on Student Council and the Executive Board and joined the cross country and indoor track teams his senior year. An outstanding musician, Moses is the first violinist in the PHS Orchestra and currently interns with the Portland Symphony Orchestra, helping with the management of public relations and community outreach.

“Moses is a gifted and talented student who completes each task as a matter of personal integrity,” Migneault concluded.  “Moses is most deserving of this recognition.”

Moses is the son of Kathleen Keane and Stephen Small and plans on pursuing broadcast journalism. He has been accepted to honors programs at both Emerson College and Syracuse University.

Sahra Ahmed, senior, Deering High School:

Sahra wasn't sure which high school she would choose four years ago. She wasn't very excited about high school and admits to being uncommitted to the entire process. She finally decided on Deering because of the four-block schedule. Little did she know that decision would set her on a journey of discovery and a life career choice by her sophomore year.

She remembers her excitement at joining the debate club and decided in ninth-grade she would be a lawyer. Then, in 10th-grade, she was introduced to biology and then chemistry and she was hooked. She knew then she wanted to study biology and neuroscience after high school and ultimately become a doctor.

Sahra is the second oldest of her siblings and is proud to set the tone, so to speak, for her younger sisters. She feels a responsibility to them and sets out to show the significance of not only an education but in active participation in your community.

As a junior, Sahra became the student representative from Deering High School on the Portland Public School Board, where she attended meetings that went into the late hours of the night. During these meetings she and school board members discussed, debated and ultimately made decisions on educational policy for all schools, K-12, in the district.

She has been an impressive member of the DHS Debate Team, Model UN, Student Senate, and Robotics Club. Her favorite activity is collecting data for stormwater research. Besides visiting sites throughout Portland with other Deering students and cataloging the levels of contaminants in water samples, Sahra is most proud that the information she helps collect is submitted to the city of Portland, which uses the information to implement safety measures for Portland's citizens and wildlife.

Sahra accepted the Maine Principals' Association award with gratitude and respectfully thanked guidance counselors Marisa Polk and Tracey Moore for all their help over the years; Principal Ira Waltz, for his kindness and consideration; and Assistant Principal Dr. Abdullahi Ahmed, whom she smilingly describes as "a second father to me.”

Staff at Deering are very pleased Sahra chose DHS as her high school. They are equally proud to award Sahra Ahmed with the Maine Principals' Association award and wish her success in all her endeavors.

Josie Pierce, senior, Casco Bay High School:

CBHS Principal Derek Pierce described Josie in this way:

“Josie Pierce is a young woman of precocious substance, both academically and ethically. Her diverse excellence can surprise you –and sometimes herself.

The introvert with the impish smile won last year's Class Orator award. The house band bass player was also the chief videographer and editor of the school's 10th anniversary video; and the “Distinguished Delegate” at the Maine Model UN Conference; and the co-writer and director of our award-winning comedies for the last two years at the One-Act Play Festival.

Academically, Josie is a top student. She was an obvious choice for National Honor Society, and she will graduate Summa Cum Laude. Josie's impeccable grit and work habits are as impressive as her intellectual gifts – and have earned universal respect from students and staff. Josie will be attending Sarah Lawrence next fall.”

(Principal Pierce is not related to Josie Pierce.)

The Principal’s Award is presented in more than 100 Maine public and private high schools by member principals of the Maine Principals’ Association (MPA), the professional association that represents Maine’s school administrators.

PHOTO CAPTIONS:  (Above) Pictured (from left) are 2016 MPA Principal’s Award winners: Moses Small, Portland High School; Josie Pierce, Casco Bay High School; and Sahra Ahmed, Deering High School.

(Below) Moses Small receives his award from Portland High School Principal Deborah Migneault.

Josie Pierce receives her award from Casco Bay High School Principal Derek Pierce.


Moses Small; Debi Migneault
Josie Pierce and Derek Pierce