Zoha Siddiqui ’15
As an ACDS seventh grader, Zoha chose to research and speak about girls education in Pakistan for her Speeches & Sweets speech. That speech, along with a passion for service nurtured at ACDS, inspired Zoha to continue to further her understanding of the challenges facing girls in Pakistan and to take action. During her ninth grade year at Sidwell Friends School, she partnered with the ACDS fourth grade and members of her high school community to collect approximately 2,500 books. She used those books to build a library at a girls school in Pakistan in March 2016. With a friend, she has recently started an organization, HER, to support girls education around the world. In under four years, HER has built more than 9 libraries around the world.
Dana Frantz Bentley ’94
An accomplished educator and author, Dana attended St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes School for high school and Georgetown University. She then received a Master’s degree from Harvard University and a Doctorate of Education, Art and Art Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. A preschool teacher and researcher at Buckingham, Browne and Nichols School in Cambridge, MA, and the author of “Everyday Artists: Inquiry and Creativity in the Early Childhood Classroom”, Dana returned to ACDS in November 2014 to speak to the faculty. In her speech, she thanked her teachers for inspiring her career path and for teaching her to ask, “What might be possible?”
Andrew Vallaster ’11
At ACDS, Andrew developed his love of learning, especially in mathematics. After being at ACDS from Kindergarten through eighth grade, he finished his secondary education at St. Albans School. The foundation ACDS provided for him both academically and socially allowed him to thrive there. Continuing his love of mathematics and science, he became captain of the J.E.T.S. team, a physics and chemistry competition team, that won States every year he was there, and he was a successful member of the school’s math team. Becoming a double varsity athlete in Cross Country and Rowing, he helped lead St. Albans to a Stotesbury Gold his senior year. Graduating St. Albans in 2015, he now attends the University of Chicago, double majoring in mathematics and computer science.
Josephine Elting ’18
At ACDS, Josephine took advantage of the School’s small, nurturing environment and supportive teachers to figure out what she believed in and to be comfortable expressing it. She credits this time of self-discovery and the resulting confidence in who she is and what she believes as being invaluable as she transitioned to Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. “In high school where there are lots of people with lots of ideas I feel comfortable in who I am and do not feel the need to conform to who others want me to be,” says Josephine. “Through the public speaking program at ACDS I also learned how to communicate with my peers effectively.” In her first year at Exeter, Josephine has gotten involved in many different activities. She is a leader on the JV Basketball team, helps teach tennis to younger children, and plays the cello. She is also a member of the Exeter Business Club, which she cites as her favorite activity.
Blake Bynum ‘04
Blake joined ACDS as a seventh grader, after completing a Montessori program, and describes his time at ACDS as a match made in heaven. Making the most of his two years at ACDS, Blake joined the basketball team, as well as continued to hone his creative side in the drama program, and addressed his lifelong speech impediment in Speeches & Sweets. Blake went on to attend Bishop Ireton High School and Hampton University. He now resides in Alexandria and works as an Acquisition Analyst for an 8(a) company. He is also an independent filmmaker whose most recent film, Buried, has been screened in Atlanta Underground Film Festival, Burbank International Film Festival, and the DC Black Film Festival.
Alex Mathews '14
Alex remembers ACDS arts performances, sports teams, student council, and assignments like science fair and policy debates as encouraging her to explore diverse interests and leadership. At T.C. Williams, a much larger school, Alex carried this approach to learning and confidence to play an active role in classes, build lasting relationships with peers and teachers, and try two varsity sports for the first time, serving as captain for each. Building on the ACDS communications foundation, she served as an editor for the TC newspaper and a student reporter for PBS and had the opportunity to interview Chuck Todd of Meet the Press on camera. She also founded and co-led the first fundraising effort to fight blood cancers at TC. A freshman at Georgetown University, Alex recently was selected to serve on a Student Strategy Team in the Institute of Politics and Public Service, plays club field hockey, and is a member of College Democrats. Alex still counts ACDS classmates among her closest friends.