Featured image, above: PALCS USP students who won awards and scholarships

2017 has been quite a year for PA Leadership’s University Scholars Program, with students in grades 6-12 accomplishing so much both academically and personally. We recently took some time to reflect on what an amazing year it has been for our honors college-preparatory program, which offers a specialized accelerated curriculum, by either attending the on-site/online blended program in West Chester or participating in the completely virtual program for statewide students. Over the next few weeks, we will be publishing posts in a series called “USP: A Year in Review.” Below, you will find the third post of the series, talking about USP students and teachers who have received outstanding awards and honors throughout the year.

Additionally, the University Scholars Program application for the 2018-2019 school year is available starting January 2, on the USP program page.

Here at PALCS, students and educators are encouraged to work together and be team players, while also forming individual opinions and standing up as leaders. PA Leadership’s University Scholars Program (USP) embraces the individual scholar and tailors instruction and opportunities to the individual need and goals of each scholar, which is a large part of why we have seen such success among our students and educators this past year!

Student Accomplishments

    • The NCWIT (National Center for Women & Information Technology) National Award Selection Committee selected student Laura Dodds as a 2017 National Honorable Mention of the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing. She was among the top 10% of all applicants.


    • Hannah Nguyen won a Gold Key Award in the 2017 Scholastic Art Award for her work of Digital Art called “Disclosure”.


    • Alyssa Sweeney won a Silver Key Award in the 2017 Scholastic Writing Award for her written work.


    • 8th grader Danny Gauntlet won the USP National Geographic Bee in January and was in the top 100 qualifiers to compete for the state championship on March 31st. Daniel qualified for the State Competition in Harrisburg. Daniel finished in 8th place for Pennsylvania. Danny and his mother Daniel were recently featured in an article on familyfocus.org. The article, “The Gauntlett Family, PA Leadership Charter School” describes why the Gauntlett family chose PALCS for Danny and how he is making the most of what the school has to offer.


    • Student John Jackline was recognized by the Carson Scholars Fund as a Carson Scholar for his academic and humanitarian achievements.



    • William McGregor and fellow USP student Audrey Emata were named as finalists by the National Young Arts Foundation for YoungArts Week, the highest honor the foundation gives. The recognition means that they will be flown to Miami for the week and they get to work with some of the greats in all forms of the arts. With over 18,000 applicants, it was an honor to be chosen, and they now qualify for the chance to be named as Presidential Scholars.


    • Gaea Lawton was selected to participate in the TREES program at the University of Pennsylvania this past summer. According to their website, “The Teen Research and Education in Environmental Science (TREES) program is a unique summer research and mentorship program offering hands-on environmental research opportunities to motivated high school students.


    • Tyler Diggs was offered a scholarship for gifted dancers from the Harid Conservatory and the Orlando Ballet.


    • In the most recent news of the National Merit Scholarship program, USP 2018 seniors Raymond “Ian” Beazley, Samuel Choi, Erica Weidner, and Kashaf Zaman have been named Commended Students in the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program. Commended students placed among the top 50,000 scorers of more than 1.6 million students who took the PSAT exam. In addition, USP 2018 seniors Laura Dodds, Nathaniel Hess, Matthew Lebermann, and Becca Suchower have been named Semifinalists in the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program. Qualifying as a Semifinalist is the first step in the competition for National Merit Scholarships.


    • As part of the National Merit Scholarship program, Eliana Chow, Class of 2017, was awarded a scholarship from AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals.


  • 2017 graduates James Hurd and Derek Shan were named as finalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program. James and Derek received a Certificate of Merit. There are 1.6 million entrants into the academic competition each year.

Faculty Accomplishments

    • This past Summer, USP science teacher Mrs. Jamie Castle was awarded with a Summer Research Internship University of Pennsylvania. Mrs. Castle took Biochemistry and Advanced Cell Biology as part of the MS Biotechnology degree program at Johns Hopkins University. She also spent two weeks interning in a physical chemistry lab at the University of Pennsylvania and worked on two projects involving the use of natural and non-natural amino acids as fluorophores in the spectroscopic analysis of protein structure. She remarked, “I’m so thankful for the opportunities I had this summer. I’m amazed at how much I learned and I can’t wait to share all this science with my students!”


  • USP teachers Mrs. Parris and Ms. Przeworski had the opportunity to study at a Summer AP Institute at La Salle University Mrs. Parris spent a week delving into the the College Board’s most up-to-date best practices for AP Language and Composition while Ms. Przeworski did the same for AP Environmental Sciences.

Congratulations to each of these individuals whose hard work, dedication and passion led each of them to well-deserved honors and awards. You make the PALCS community proud!