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Ida Crown Jewish Academy senior, Anat Berday-Sacks was named a U.S. Presidential Scholar from the state of Indiana. Anat, who boards in Skokie to attend ICJA, was the only female chosen from the state and is one of 141 seniors chosen from the United States for this highest honor among high school students.

As part of the award, Anat cites Ms. Sheri Goldstein, ICJA English teacher, as her most influential teacher. Ms. Goldstein says, “Anat brightens every room she enters with her unending quest for knowledge. In Seminars she pays attention to the smallest details, knowing the importance of communication as part of the means that keep us, as humans, connected.”

Anat transferred to ICJA as a sophomore after spending her freshman year in public school in Indianapolis. At ICJA Anat balanced a challenging dual curriculum and a full schedule of extracurricular activities. Speaking at our groundbreaking ceremony in November, Anat said, “I am thankful I can come to a Jewish school where I don’t have to explain myself and fight for moments of religious commonality. Freshman year, when I was asked about my opinions of Israel, or why I believed in God, I wasn’t prepared to answer. I still have a long way to go. But Ida Crown gave me a year of Jewish History, the skills to analyze primary sources, and a group of friends who question the same things as I do but have found different answers. ICJA has helped me do what I love most, be it through a scholarship for YU’s Model United Nations Convention or having a cross-country team that doesn’t compete on Shabbat.”

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on May 4 announced the 51st class of U.S. Presidential Scholars, recognizing the 141 high school seniors for their accomplishments in academics or the arts.

As a candidate for the award, Anat chose one teacher to write her letter of recommendation and then describe why she chose that particular teacher. About Ms. Goldstein, Anat wrote the following:

Ms. Goldstein’s message to our English Seminar class was simple: If this world is so vast, the universe unblinking, and the possibilities innumerous, how can each person do anything but change the world?
The first step is confronting the world. She used biographies, speeches, and novels as dioramas; each story exhibited a different facet of society. My English classes in high school were designed to teach skills, but Mrs. Goldstein created a curriculum and environment where we were required to use those skills to defend our opinions. She emphasized creatively connecting each reading to articles we read independently or lessons from our history classes. In addition, she forced us to target different elements of our upbringing as the reason for our biases. In this way, I learned to analyze why I have the opinions I do.
Examples of how class discussions affected me include the following:
On Keeping a Notebook reminded me one reason grandparents consistently have the best stories: their reflections had years to age and mature.
A Mid Summer Night’s Dream renewed my appreciation for Shakespeare by bringing me back to the world of prancing pixies and star-struck lovers who don’t die.
The Little Prince revealed to me a human being’s need for introversion and extroversion. Finding a medium between being withdrawn and outgoing allows healthy growth because of the balanced amount of personal opinion and shared knowledge.
Mrs. Goldstein’s enthusiasm for literature is unmatched; her unyielding enthusiasm for English Seminar inspires all of her students with the same belief that we can change the world in the same way she has changed our world. 


“Presidential Scholars demonstrate the accomplishments that can be made when students challenge themselves, set the highest standards, and commit themselves to excellence,” Duncan said. “These scholars are poised to make their mark on our nation in every field imaginable: the arts and humanities, science and technology, law and medicine, business and finance, education and government—to name a few. Their academic and artistic achievements reflect a sense of purpose that we should seek to instill in all students to prepare them for college, careers, civic responsibilities, and the challenges of today’s job market.”

The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars, appointed by President Obama, selects honored scholars annually based on their academic success, artistic excellence, essays, school evaluations and transcripts, as well as evidence of community service, leadership, and demonstrated commitment to high ideals. Of the three million students expected to graduate from high school this year, more than 4,300 candidates qualified for the 2015 awards determined by outstanding performance on the College Board SAT and ACT exams, and through nominations made by Chief State School Officers or the National YoungArts Foundation’s nationwide YoungArts™ competition.

The 2015 Scholars are comprised of one young man and one young woman from each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and from U.S. families living abroad, as well as 15 chosen at-large and 20 U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts.

The 2015 ceremony will be held June 21, when each honoree will receive a Presidential Scholar Medallion.

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