Samohi Senior Emmaline Thorpe was commended by the SMMUSD School Board for a perfect Advanced Placement score Credit: SMMUSD

A select group of Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District students were commended for their academic achievement this week.

At the Thursday meeting of the SMMUSD Board of Education, students were recognized for several feats, such as National Merit Program Scholarship semi-finalist selections and National College Board honors. Two students, Malibu High School senior Molly O’Neill and Santa Monica High School senior Emmaline Thorpe, were congratulated for earning perfect scores on college-level Advanced Placement (AP) exams in spring of 2023. The students were just two of 337 nationally to earn every single possible point on the AP 2-dimensional (2-D) art and design exam, taken by approximately 49,000 students in all.

Both students were pleasantly surprised by the honor, crediting their scores to hard work and dedication in the arts arena.

“I put a lot of work into my sustained investigation, but was still unsure what score I’d get, so I’m extremely grateful for my score, and really appreciate the College Board’s recognition of my art,” Thorpe said. “Samohi has an amazing and supporting environment that I am grateful for … [the Samohi community and her family] have been inspirational with their support and motivation.”

Thorpe hopes to study art in college, and was recently selected as a winner in the California Young Artists Expo. Her work can currently be seen on the corner of the 3rd Street Promenade and Arizona Avenue.

“I am overjoyed to celebrate the remarkable achievement of these two outstanding students who earned perfect scores on their AP exams,” said SMMUSD Superintendent Dr. Antonio Shelton. “Their exceptional accomplishment is a testament to their talent and dedication, as well as our unwavering commitment to nurturing the arts within SMMUSD.”

Malibu High School senior Molly O’Neill was congratulated for earning perfect scores on college-level Advanced Placement exams
Credit: Molly O’Neill

Also at the meeting, the board voted to approve the comprehensive school safety plans for all district schools aside from John Adams Middle School, which is still pending finalization of its plan. The board also updated policy for the education of homeless children, and completed approval of several independent contractors. Approved independent contract deals included:

• A contract with Michael Dean DBA CC Success LLC not to exceed $125,000; for the purpose of housing a Strong Workforce Pathway Coordinator in the district as part of the California College Strong Workforce Program. The program provides technical assistance and coordination to benefit high school students in their post-secondary preparation and transition.

• A contract with PS Science not to exceed $27,000; for the purpose of providing science classes for grades TK-5th throughout the 2023-24 academic year at McKinley Elementary School.

• A contract with Elizabeth Cruz DBA Illuminating SOL Therapy, Inc. not to exceed $11,355; for the purpose of Ms. Cruz serving as a mental health consultant and coordinator for the Facilitate Parent Project in Spanish.

• A contract with Lenson Productions, LLC not to exceed $5,925; for the purpose of video and audio recording for concerts at Lincoln Middle School.

Thomas Leffler has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Broadcast Journalism from Penn State University and has been in the industry since 2015. Prior to working at SMDP, he was a writer for AccuWeather and managed...