PATERSON, NJ- Paterson Public Schools honored its brightest minds last week during its annual “Exceptional Achievers” ceremony at John F Kennedy Educational Complex. 

With applause for all individually called and recognized, 134 students received certificates and praise from school leaders, their parents and many others in the audience for their excellence on state assessments they took during the previous academic year.

Each student needed to score at least a “5” on either both the PARCC ELA (Language Arts) and the PARCC Math, or individually on the NJASK Science. The score denotes that the student is “Exceeding Expectations.”

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Several students achieved even beyond those parameters, scoring perfect scores on one or more of the tests. Eighth-grader Tafsir Ahmed was perfect on both Language Arts and Math while Euribel Diaz, fifth grade, received perfect scores on all three tests. Both Ahmed and Diaz attend School #28.

Acting Superintendent Eileen Shafer gushed at the accomplishments of those present. “These students are our best and they are so worthy of our attention here tonight.” She thanked parents and teachers for their dedication and focus on shaping these youths. 

She especially focused on the theme of “sacrifice.” The students, she said, sacrificed “going out instead of staying in and hitting the books,” while the parents gave their time to children to make sure they succeeded.

Ninth-grader, Sandra Davalos, was among those recognized. Noting that this is her third time as an “exceptional achiever” Davalos said that she “studied a lot" while also thanking her parents for making sure she did her homework and stayed motivated, even when she “thought (she) couldn’t do it.” 

She gave special praise to her teacher, Ms. Thornton, for helping her learn to love her favorite subject, math. Davalos believes other students have trouble understanding geometry because they are not exposed to a teacher as excellent as hers.

Shafer doubled down on the city’s mission to advance education for students in New Jersey’s second largest school district saying that “we will ensure that our efforts, at all levels of this organization, are focused on improving academic outcomes for all of our children.”