District 203 celebrates its achievements

As we near the end of another school year, our students and staff have much to be proud of. I'd like to share some of the Naperville Unit District 203 points of pride from the 2015-16 school year.

We started out the school year by distributing more than 8,000 Chromebooks to our Naperville Central and Naperville North high school students. We look forward to expanding our digital learning initiative to all five junior highs in the 2016-17 school year and the elementary students in the 2017-18 school year. Visit our website,, for information on the digital learning initiative.

Once again, our schools rank among the top in the nation and the state. U.S. News and World Report unveiled its 2016 Top High Schools with Naperville Central ranking 997 nationally (38 in Illinois) and Naperville North 1,006 (40 in Illinois). ranked all five District 203 junior highs among the top 15 in the state, and Meadow Glens Elementary School was recognized as a U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon School.

Our students continue to amaze both in and out of the classroom.

This year, 18 District 203 seniors were named 2016 Presidential Scholarship nominees. Thirty-eight seniors were named 2015 National Merit Scholarship finalists; 17 NCHS and 21 NNHS seniors were named semifinalists. Seniors Samantha Barrera and Gabriela Gallegos from North and seniors Carlos Garcia and Benjamin Osorio from Central were named National Hispanic Scholars in the 2015-16 National Merit Scholarship Competition. Congratulations to them all for their achievements!

In addition to performing academically, our students take the skills they gain in the classroom and apply them to the real world. Adarsh Mattu and Prateek Dullur from Central and Aditya Ramachandran from North were honored guests at the 2016 White House Science Fair.

As eighth-graders, they placed first in the 2015 eCybermission national championship for creating an electricity-free device to prevent basement flooding, even during power outages.

This year, for the first time, District 203 partnered with the city of Naperville and the Naperville Development Partnership to allow NCHS and NNHS architecture students to gain real world experience by re-envisioning the Iroquois Shopping Center on Ogden Avenue. The project provided hands-on experience for students to understand what it takes to develop a city.

NCHS's Central Times received a High School Gold Hybrid News Crown from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, Central junior Akshay Punukollu placed first in Hotel and Lodging Management at DECA's International Career Development Conference, and Kennedy Junior High's eighth-grade team placed first in the nation in the Wordmasters Challenge.

District 203 students also excel athletically. North senior Judy Pendergast set a new state record at the 2015 IHSA girls cross country meet and the Huskies took second place as a team. Central's Sydney Dusel placed first at the IHSA girls diving state meet, and Redhawks boys swimming placed second in IHSA state, with the boys 200-yard free relay and 400-yard relay also placing second.

I hope you enjoyed just a sampling of what makes District 203 an exceptional school district. We are proud of the many achievements of our students, teachers, administrators and community supporters. We look forward to continuing to be a district where students excel both in and out of the classroom.

• Dan Bridges is superintendent of Naperville Unit District 203. His column runs monthly in Neighbor during the school year.

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