Burleson Independent School District students and staff were recognized at Monday’s school board meeting for academic excellence. Students from Kerr Middle School, STEAM Middle School, Burleson High School, Burleson Collegiate High School and Centenntial High School were present at the ceremony.

The first five students recognized attended the prestigious Lone Star Leadership Academy Camp.

“These students were selected for the camp based on academic success and leadership ability,” said BISD employee Stacy Sterling. “The Lone Star Leadership Academy offers a unique community for outstanding students to learn about Texas leaders and what it means to be from the Lone Star state.”

The students are Coen Huffman, Academy of Leadership and Technology at Mound Elementary, grade five; Lance Dodson, STEAM Middle School, grade eight; Reese Shaw, Kerr Middle School, grade six; Shelby Carter, STEAM Middle School, grade 6 and Xavier Webster, Kerr Middle School, grade 6.

Also honored were students who earned recognition by the National Merit Scholarship program. According to Sterling, as of October 2016, 1.6 million students entered the NMS competition. Over 34,000 students received letters of commendation in recognition of their outstanding academic progress, including Patricia Cannon, Jason Combrink, Colton Gregg and Camille Rasor of Centennial High School, and Cortlan Parrish of BHS.

“Tonight we recognize our BISD students who are commended scholars,” Sterling said. “There is a lot of work that goes into this recognition and we are so proud of these students.”

Approximately 5,000 Hispanic students in Texas are recognized by the PSAT National Hispanic Program. Locals earning the distinction are Elisha Davis of CHS and Rebecca Bender Jutzi of BHS.

“Not only do these students have to achieve the minimum cut-off score on their PSAT, they must also have a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher,” Sterling said.

Students were also recognized by the National Academy of Future Scientists and Technologists, an organization formed in 2014 to support kindergarten through college students who focus on science and technology.

“Students are selected by a teacher or guidance counselor for leadership ability and academic achievement,” said Dr. Leslie Bender Jutzi, chief academic innovation officer. “These students must be dedicated to science and have a verified GPA of 3.5 or higher.”

Recognized were Jacob Mickels by the National Academy of Future Scientists and Technologists and Dana Berry and Julie Reynolds, both recognized by the National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists.

Several STEAM teachers were recognized for participating in Teach the League, a summit hosted by the U.S. Department of Education. Teachers selected for the summit are chosen for their leadership skills.

“I think speaking on behalf of all of us, the best experience was getting to spend two days in a room full of educators from across the country who were happy to be there, to get creative and brainstorm for the betterment of our students,” said Taylor Beam, art and classroom teacher at STEAM middle school.

STEAM Middle School educators who attended the leadership summit include Samantha Parker, eighth grade team lead, At-Risk Coordinator, and AVID Coordinator; Candice Cook, Assistant Principal; Alan Sypert, Electives Department Head;  and Taylor Beam, art and classroom teacher.

“We want to develop the highest level of academic thinkers,” Dr. Leslie Bender Jutzi said. “We want our students and teacher to continue to seek out these types of experiences after high school and in college.”