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Newberry student honored by Governor Rick Scott

W - black history month photo copyTALLAHASSEE – Khary Khalfani, a 6th-grader at Newberry’s Oak View Middle School, was among eight students and educators honored this week by Governor Rick Scott as part of Florida’s Black History Month celebration.

Khalfani and Angela Jones, the behavioral resource teacher at Terwilliger Elementary School, were recognized at a special ceremony at the Governor’s Mansion in Tallahassee. Twelve-year-old Khalfani won the state’s middle school Black History Month Essay Contest while Jones was the elementary school recipient of this year’s Excellence in Education Award.

“I am so proud of Khary and Angela,” said Alachua County Superintendent Dan Boyd. “It’s a wonderful thing to have not just one, but two of the state honorees from our district.”

“In Florida, we are happy to host this contest every year that gives our students a chance to learn about the significant contributions of our country’s African American leaders,” said Governor Scott.

In keeping with the state’s Black History Month theme of ‘Diversity in the United States,’ Khalfani’s 500-word award-winning essay is entitled ‘Positively Diverse.’ It highlights the negative consequences of discrimination on society.

“I wanted to get across the point that diversity can positively affect society,” he said. “It’s negative only if people choose to let it happen. They need to get past their misconceptions about race.”

Oak View Middle principal Kevin Purvis says Khalfani, who is enrolled in the school’s Center for Advanced Academics and Technology magnet program, is not just a great student.

“He’s a great person,” said Purvis. “It’s not just the academics, it’s the smile, it’s the personality, it’s what he brings to the world.”

Jones was nominated for the Excellence in Education Award by fellow teacher Meg Amos, who highlighted Jones’ efforts to create mentoring/tutoring programs for boys and girls at the school and to provide students with opportunities to learn more about black history and culture.

As one of the state’s three essay contest winners, Khalfani has been awarded a four-year Florida College Plan scholarship provided by the Florida Prepaid College Foundation. Jones and the two other Florida teachers receiving the Excellence in Education Award received a $1,500 check.