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Senior, SMOB receive Top Teen Award for community contributions

Senior+Alistair+Coleman+addresses+the+community+at+a+music+festival+he+launched+on+behalf+of+Strathmore%2C+where+he+currently+interns.+Coleman+received+the+Extraordinary+Teen+Award+from+Bethesda+Magazine+in+April.+Photo+courtesy+Alistair+Coleman.
Senior Alistair Coleman addresses the community at a music festival he launched on behalf of Strathmore, where he currently interns. Coleman received the Extraordinary Teen Award from Bethesda Magazine in April. Photo courtesy Alistair Coleman.

Senior Alistair Coleman addresses the community at a music festival he launched on behalf of Strathmore, where he currently interns. Coleman received the Extraordinary Teen Award from Bethesda Magazine in April. Photo courtesy Alistair Coleman.

Senior Alistair Coleman addresses the community at a music festival he launched on behalf of Strathmore, where he currently interns. Coleman received the Extraordinary Teen Award from Bethesda Magazine in April. Photo courtesy Alistair Coleman.

By Valerie Akinyoyenu

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From a pool of over 70 nominated students, Whitman senior Alistair Coleman and MCPS SMOB and B-CC senior Eric Guerci were selected as two of 12 recipients of Bethesda Magazine’s Extraordinary Teen Award.

In 2011, Bethesda Magazine began recognizing local students with the award and featuring them in the March/April issue of the magazine if they met certain criteria.

“We continue to think it’s important to celebrate young people in our community who are doing amazing things,” Bethesda Magazine editor Kathleen Neary said. “We consider everything that is included in a student’s nomination—their interests, accomplishments, well-roundedness, what sets them apart.”

Alistair Coleman

The publication spotlighted Coleman’s outstanding contributions to music in the community, from professionally publishing original compositions to organizing a musical summer camp for kids in his neighborhood. Through his ongoing internship with Strathmore, Coleman also connects children in underserved areas of Montgomery County to music programs.

Most notably, Coleman spent last summer penning an original composition which the National Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorale performed at Strathmore for over 2,000 concertgoers in November.

“Being able to share my music was really humbling and really meaningful to me,” Coleman said. “That’s why I got into music, to share my own voice through music with others.”

Being able to share my music was really humbling and really meaningful to me.  That’s why I got into music, to share my own voice through music with others.

— senior Alistair Coleman

In the fall, Coleman will attend the Juilliard School in New York, which is recognized by many as one of the most prestigious performing arts institutes in the world. Juilliard offers a blended curriculum in the arts, so Coleman will major in both piano and composition.

“One of the important things that I’m seeking, especially at a place like Juilliard, is to be able to be surrounded by my peers in music and in the arts and to be able to work with them and live with them at the highest level possible,” Coleman said.

Eric Guerci

Bethesda Magazine commended Guerci for serving two consecutive terms as SMOB on MCPS’ Board of Education (BOE). Over the past two years, Guerci has worked with the BOE to expand SMOB voting rights, eliminate semester exams and obtain additional funding for closing the achievement gap.

“He’s very savvy and always does his homework,” Montgomery County Board of Education President Michael Durso told Bethesda Magazine. Eric is at least as well prepared as some of the adults on the board, more so on some occasions.”

B-CC principal Donna Redmond Jones nominated Guerci for the award. To balance his academics, duties as SMOB and other competing demands, Guerci relies on prioritizing, he said.

“At the end of the day, I’m a student first, and it’s just been really important to have supportive administrators both within the school system and at my own school,” Guerci said.

Guerci will attend Princeton University later this year to pursue the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs major. He shared that his experience as SMOB sparked his passion for education.

It’s about education advocacy and ensuring that students have the best education possible.  In some form or another, I’m going to continue to make efforts in that area following my graduation from college hopefully.

— SMOB Eric Guerci

“It’s about education advocacy and ensuring that students have the best education possible,” Guerci said. “In some form or another, I’m going to continue to make efforts in that area following my graduation from college hopefully.”

Both recipients said they’re honored to be recognized and shared words of advice for other students.

“Play the music or sing the music that speaks to you the most,” Coleman said. “Find somebody that you love working with, somebody that’s able to inspire you, but also able to make you take that next step.”

Instead of striving for a specific leadership position, Guerci encouraged students to focus on fighting for what they’re passionate about.

“In advocacy and in leadership, what’s less important is the the title that you hold and what’s more important is the impact that you’re able to make,” Guerci said.

An online version of Bethesda Magazine’s Top Teens 2017 feature on Coleman and Guerci can be found here.

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The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School
Senior, SMOB receive Top Teen Award for community contributions