December 19 - January 3
Holiday Break

January 4
Classes Resume

January 18
Martin Luther King Holiday
School Closed

January 21
Awty Campfire
7:30 p.m.

January 21-22
International Festival

February 1
Re-enrollment Deadline



Congratulations to the following Awty musicians on their success at recent contests!

Every year, our band and orchestra students prepare audition music (three to six compositions for each music contest). This year, their auditions looked a little different. Instead of auditioning in person, the auditions were either recorded or conducted virtually. The students competed to gain a spot/chair in the region ensemble, and those who earned a top chair were allowed to audition for the All State ensemble. No matter the level, each step in the process was difficult and highly competitive.

A special round of applause is warranted for senior Jean-Luc Shimizu. The TMEA contest in which he was selected as first chair, was held against all jazz trumpet players from both public and private schools (1A to 6A) statewide. This is the highest musical achievement any Awty student has ever achieved, and it is the highest achievement that any of Mr. Jason Peguero's students have achieved in his teaching career. Bravo!

Here are the results of our jazz band and orchestra region, area, and All State winners.

Nicole Dunkel – Jazz Drums

  • ATSSB Region 23/27 Jazz Band – 2nd Chair
  • Placed 26th in ATSSB All State Contest for Jazz Drums
  • TPSMEA All State Jazz Band – 2nd Chair

Esther Gao – Violin

  • TPSMEA All State Orchestra – 26th Chair
  • TMEA Region 27 Orchestra – 32nd Chair

Rick Huang – Alto Saxophone

  • ATSSB Region 23/27 Jazz Band 1st Chair – Area qualifier
  • ATSSB All State Jazz Band – 1st Alternate (also known as 3rd in state).
  • Placed 3rd in TPSMEA All State Jazz Contest for Alto Saxophone

Jean-Luc Shimizu – Jazz Trumpet

  • TPSMEA All State Jazz Band – 1st Chair
  • ATSSB Region 23/27 Jazz Band – 1st Chair
  • TMEA Region 27 Jazz Band – 1st Chair
  • TMEA Area Jazz Band – 2nd place – Advance to state
  • TMEA All State Jazz Band – 1st Chair for Jazz Band 1 (top jazz chair in the state)

Jules Winter – Tenor Saxophone

  • ATSSB Region 23/27 Jazz Band 1st Chair – Area qualifier
  • Placed 22nd in the ATSSB All State Contest for Tenor Saxophone
  • TPSMEA All State Jazz Band – 2nd Chair

Emily Yao – Violin

  • TMEA Region 27 Orchestra – 7th Chair
  • TMEA Area Orchestra – 18th place – Advance to state
  • TMEA All State Symphony Orchestra – 29th Chair


Many of our Awty faculty and staff have been going above and beyond to expand their knowledge and advance their skills, even in this unparalleled year. We would like to recognize and congratulate Carolin Escobar, Director of Educational Technology, for becoming a Google for Education Certified Educator, the highest certification Google provides to educators! 

Carolin graduated from the first online Google Certified Innovator Academy #VIA20 on October 10. The program received applications from educators all around the world, but only 78 were accepted. During the eight-week online academy, she focused on learning the Design Thinking process, a solution-based approach to solving problems. The academy is designed as a workshop to inspire and build capacity for innovators while still allowing them to dive into their own projects. Over the next eight months, Carolin will focus on advancing her project of creating a platform to support teachers in the creation of assessments, which are holistic and reflect authentic, meaningful learning experiences.  



On your mark, get set, and off he went! Congratulations to senior Alexander Gadin! He set a school record during the cross country time trials, running the fastest 5k by anyone at Awty with a time of 15:34.6.


Congratulations to the following Lower School students for being elected to the 2020-2021 Lower School Student Council. The students wasted no time before meeting with Head of Lower School Tim Long, Deputy Head of Lower School Margaux Jones, and School Counselor Penny Cleveland shortly after the elections. Their first order of business—establishing a dress up day during Spirit Week 2020 for all Lower School students!



Congratulations to 7th grade students Leah Mann, Scotia Linn, and Adela Nicolae! As Cadettes of Girl Scout Troop #125071, their team created a dynamic online social media campaign aimed at helping the community understand the importance of masking up during the pandemic. They shared the #Challenge2Care project on both Facebook and Instagram to bring about awareness on how wearing a mask can protect our greater community. Well done Cadettes! If you want to view and support their efforts, click here.


Congratulations to junior Cameron Ahmed! He recently earned the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest rank a scout can earn in the Boy Scouts of America program. Cameron started his scouting journey in the 1st grade as a Tiger Cub in Pack 848.

To receive the rank of Eagle Scout, a Scout must earn a total of 21 merit badges, serve actively in his troop for six months in a leadership role, and lead a comprehensive service project approved by the District Council, including any required fundraising, permits or authorizations, and volunteer management. Cameron has earned 31 merit badges and has served in many leadership positions with the Troop including Scribe, Historian, Patrol Leader, Assistant Senior Patrol Leader, and Troop Guide. For his service project, Cameron designed, built, stained, sealed, and installed ten wooden benches along the green space on the I-10 corridor in The City of Spring Valley Village. He also built and installed a pet waste station in the area where the benches were placed, and rebuilt a circular tree bench.

Cameron plans to continue with the Troop as a Junior Leader and complete his Philmont trek next summer.

Photos courtesy of Alisa Murray.



Congratulations to the following Middle School students for being elected to the 2020-2021 Middle School Student Council. The student council acts as a liaison between the student body and the Middle School administration. Its main purpose is to help student life at Awty be the best it can be.


Awty is proud to announce the following students have qualified as Semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program: Nathan Kralik, Georgios Mikos, Om Satapathy, Holden Stus, Josephine Watkins, and Jaden Wu.

Congratulations also to the following students on being named Commended Students in the program: Esteban Ayala, Alejandro Ayala, Henderson Chandler, Cynthia Deem, Alexander Gadin, Rick Huang, Seth Khan, Angelina Sophia Lee, Mary Mikos, Katia Petrosky, Jean-Luc Shimizu, Vivian Wu, and Didi Zhou.

You all deserve a standing ovation!


Bravo to Awty senior Jaden Wu! His history paper “Creek Indians” was published in the Fall 2020 issue of The Concord Review, the only quarterly journal in the world to publish exemplary academic history papers written by high school students in the English-speaking world. Jaden was one of only 11 students from around the globe whose essays were selected and published. Congratulations Jaden on this outstanding accomplishment! Click here to read Jaden’s essay.


Bravo to 5th graders Austin Lloyd and Katelyn Smith from Awty Girl Scout Troop #125071! They earned their Bronze Award over the summer. The Bronze Award is the highest award a Junior Girl Scout can earn in the organization. They earned this award for their creation of an online resource to help tweens and teens maintain good self-esteem. Click here to view and support their completed Girl Scout project by visiting "The S3 Project". Congratulations to both students! You make Awty proud!