LAWRENCE — When Desteny Gonzalez gets home from school, she immediately does her homework and after having dinner with her family, she relaxes by getting lost in a book.
Her hard work has paid off.
Desteny, 10, was one of 11 fourth-graders at Family Development Charter School who received a framed proclamation and a letter of congratulations from President Barack Obama for their academic achievements. Nineteen students in eighth grade were also recognized by Obama.
The other fourth-graders were: Angelis Casanova, Alenairam Castillo, Hecmely Ferreiras, Jose Nunez, Chantelle Pena, Oliver Piantini, Andrew Azzi, Kevin Matos, Isatys Perez and Josue Rosario.
“Nothing will have a greater impact on your success — and the success of our nation — than the knowledge and skills you gain in the classroom,” Obama wrote. “Your future is in your hands, and as long as you stay focused on your studies, there is not a single thing you cannot accomplish.”
Ralph Carrero, director and superintendent at Lawrence Family Development Charter School, was not surprised at the number of fourth-graders receiving accolades from Obama.
“I’m very proud of our fourth-graders. They are academically strong, very articulate, knowledgeable and pretty much bilingual,” Carrero said.
To receive the presidential excellence award, Carrero said students must have a grade-point average of 90 or above, have a proficient or advanced rating on English language arts and mathematics, and have an attendance rate of 95 percent or above.
Desteny fit every criteria. She maintained a 97 percent attendance average this year, missing school only five days when her doctor kept her home because she had the flu. Her grade-point average in all core courses was over 90 percent: Math, 97; writing, 95.75; reading, 95.25; science, 97.67 and Spanish, 96.75. She also received the Model Student Award each quarter this year.
“I couldn’t believe it. I was so nervous and my heart was beating very fast,” Desteny said of Obama’s letter. “This award means a lot to me because of the hard work and effort I put in school.”