Beth Tfiloh Seniors Anna A. ’21, Ryan J. ‘21 Named U.S. Presidential Scholars Program Candidates
Anna A. ’21 and Ryan J. ‘21, both graduating seniors at Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School, have been named two of more than 4,500 candidates in the 2021 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. The candidates were selected from nearly 3.6 million students expected to graduate from U.S. high schools in the year 2021.
Inclusion in the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program is one of the highest honors bestowed upon graduating high school seniors. Scholars are selected on the basis of superior academic and artistic achievements, leadership qualities, strong character and involvement in community and school activities.
Anna A. ‘21 In addition to her full schedule of rigorous academics, Anna is an active athlete who participates in Muay Thai, a form of combat kickboxing that she says makes her feel powerful, as well as weight and fitness training (“I love to set goals and challenge myself”), hiking and biking. She raised 6,000 for Travis Manion Foundation, which helps veterans return to civilian life and supports families of the fallen, biking 365 miles from Pittsburgh to Washington, DC. A talented singer and actor, Anna has performed in local professional and community theatres, as well as Beth Tfiloh school productions.
Her leadership roles include serving as Beth Tfiloh’s lead theatre critic for Cappies Baltimore, chairing the school’s Admissions Committee, and helping freshmen adapt to the “rigorous high school curriculum and atmosphere as a senior buddy.
Anna’s father Michael is her role model for determination and hard work; her late mother, Janean, taught Anna what it means to be strong. “She battled sickness throughout her life, but never allowed these adversities to inhibit her from actualizing her dreams,” Anna said. “She is my motivation for everything that I do, as I am determined to carry on her legacy with pride.”
“I credit much of my drive and ambition to my passionate and devoted teachers,” Anna said. “My English teacher Mr. Bruner motivates me to strive for excellence. My chemistry teacher Dr. Scheffer models for me a strong, brilliant woman in STEM. My college counselor Mrs. Steinberg inspires me to believe that I can make a difference. All of my educators have instilled in me a passion for learning and a desire for knowledge.
Ryan J. ‘21 “Beth Tfiloh has given me many opportunities to explore and to excel in many diverse fields,” said Ryan. “From academics, to athletics, to arts, I have been able to participate in all throughout my high school tenure.” His activities include participating at the MMATHS competition at Yale University as a member of BT’s Math Club; serving as a delegate at Yeshiva University’s Model UN program and competing with Beth Tfiloh’s Mock Trial team, which compel him “to expand my perspective and maintain an awareness of issues throughout the world…[and] analyze an argument in depth, from two opposing viewpoints.” Both activities have motivated him to pursue a career in law.
Ryan is one of four high school students selected for the highly competitive UMMC Greenebaum Cancer Center internships. He competed in the 2018 International Bible Contest in Israel as the U.S. national champion. Ryan is also an accomplished pianist who is a member of the National Piano Guild and has performed in BT theatrical productions since preschool.
This accomplished senior gratefully acknowledges the strong support network for motivating him to persist successfully in his studies and other activities. “Everyone at BT, my teachers, my friends, my classmates, all help me to push myself to be the best person I can be, academically and spiritually. I have everyone to thank for my accomplishments.”
Ryan finds great inspiration from his sister, who is on the autism spectrum. “Watching her has taught me how to keep persevering even in the face of adversity,” he said. Volunteering at her school, Tangram, has taught him other valuable life lessons: “to disregard my preconceptions and look at every person as an individual with their own strengths and weaknesses… [and to] appreciate the ease with which certain skills which I take for granted are a gift which I should treasure.”
Beth Tfiloh Director of Education Dr. Zipora Schorr commented, “We know we are succeeding when our students are recognized for both intellectual ability along with character and menschlichkeit, being good people – that is the Beth Tfiloh ideal.”
“On behalf of the entire Beth Tfiloh High School faculty, we are extraordinarily proud of Anna and Ryan for their nominations to the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program,” said Beth Tfiloh High School Principal Dr. Renee Koplon. “These two students are more than just high achievers in Beth Tfiloh’s rigorous dual curriculum academic program. They have attained that success while balancing multiple co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, and volunteering in causes that are important to them. Anna and Ryan are true role models to their peers, demonstrating leadership and perseverance in the face of difficult challenges.”