The Alameda Unified School District commended six high school students who have been nationally recognized for academic excellence, according to the district.

Two Alameda High students have received accolades for achievement from 2013's National Merit Scholarship Program. Claudia Waldman and Brian Wong have been named National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists. "These students are representative of some of the brightest students in the entire state of California," said Alameda High School Principal Kelly Lara. "We are proud to have them represent us; they work hard on their academics and have a love for learning. I really believe these students highlight the incredible instructional programs that we have on our campus. Our teachers are pushing students to think critically, to learn deeply, and to really dig into their content matter."

"It's a really big honor to me because I have worked really hard throughout all my years at school. It's always been a really important priority for me to study, to get really good grades, and I really love learning," Waldman said.

Wong said: "It's a big honor. I want to acknowledge my teacher, Mr. Joo: he's been a huge role model for me. He taught me you should take pride in your work; he motivated me to do things that might be more difficult but that are ultimately more rewarding because of the challenge."

Four students were recognized by the National Achievement Scholarship Program that identifies outstanding African American high school students.

AHS students Emily Dial, Anina Oliver and Kevin Rankine were named National Achievement Scholarship Semifinalists. Encinal High's Emani Pollard was recognized as a Commended Student. "It's a great honor: I have put in a lot of hard work, and I hope colleges will look at this as the honor that I think it is," Oliver said. Rankine said: "I have been lucky to have parents that cared and motivated me to be interested in education from a very young age."

Dial said: "My parents were always my biggest influence to stay excited about learning in school. Since I was little, they encouraged me to take interest in what I am passionate about and pursue it."

"I feel good because hard work in school has paid off," Pollard said.

-- Alameda Unified School District

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