Nov. 20, 2015
Students exemplify HPISD's motto, 
'Enter to Learn. Go Forth to Serve.'
HP High School students win top awards in academics & philanthropy

Left: HPHS senior Helen Zhang and junior Robert Luo will advance to the national finals in the Siemens Competition for their research on leukemia. Right: HPHS senior Kendall Deitch was honored as the 2015 Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy.

Every day in Highland Park ISD, students are exemplifying the district's motto, "Enter to Learn. Go Forth to Serve." Three students at Highland Park High School have taken the motto to heart, and they were recently recognized for their outstanding work in academic and philanthropic endeavors. 

Senior Helen Zhang's and junior Robert Luo's research on finding a treatment for acute myeloid leukemia has earned them a trip to the national finals in the Siemens Competition for science, math and technology. In a separate ceremony honoring local volunteers, senior Kendall Deitch was named the 2015 Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy for organizing a clothing boutique for fifth-graders who do not have the opportunity to shop for clothes.

Zhang and Lou will compete in the Siemens National Finals Dec. 6-8 at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. A total of $500,000 in scholarships will be awarded, including two top prizes of $100,000. They each have earned a $3,000 scholarship for their work at the regional level of the competition, which included making a presentation on their research to a panel of judges at UT-Austin.

"The quality of submissions this year is incredibly impressive," said David Etzwiler, CEO of the Siemens Foundation. "This is really graduate-level work conducted by high school students to improve the lives of people around the globe. We're proud to further that cause."

Acute myeloid leukemia is the most common adult acute leukemia and a life-threatening disease. Zhang and Luo were interested in studying the disease for a number of reasons, including family experiences with cancer and the science of the topic. 

"Acute myeloid leukemia is a remarkably difficult cancer to treat, which makes Robert and Helen's research results that much more valuable," said competition judge Jason Upton, Assistant Molecular Genetics and Microbiology Professor at UT-Austin. "New ideas and approaches to treatment are critically important. The direction of Robert and Helen's results is intriguing and provides a solid foundation on which to build."

Deitch was recognized for her philanthropic efforts by the Greater Dallas Chapter of Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) during its Nov. 13 luncheon. The luncheon was held on Dallas' National Philanthropy Day and brought together area nonprofits, volunteers, funders, foundations, business and community members to honor those who give selflessly to support worthy causes.

Deitch was honored for creating Big Sister's Closet, an event in which HPHS girls are encouraged to donate their gently-used clothing to fifth-grade girls at L.L. Hotchkiss Elementary School in Dallas. Each spring for the last three years, about 25 fifth-graders have been invited to Hotchkiss's library, which has been transformed by Deitch and her peers into a boutique full of clothes. The high school students pair up with fifth-graders and act as their personal stylist to help them find clothes in the boutique. Many of the young students do not have the opportunity to shop for clothes of their own.

In addition to organizing Big Sister's Closet, Deitch is the meeting chair for HP's ASTRA Club, a service leadership group for girls, and she is a member of the Mockingbird Chapter of the National Charity League. Click here to watch her acceptance speech video that was shown during the luncheon.

Deitch was honored among other local philanthropists like Cecilia and Garrett Boone, Scott Murray, Nancy Strauss Halbreich and James N. Falk. Click here to read the Dallas Morning News' story about the luncheon.

"These students have set their sights on making this world a better place, and they are shining examples of Highland Park ISD students at their very best," said HPISD Superintendent Dr. Tom Trigg. "They are a credit to their families, their teachers and our schools, and we are all incredibly proud of their achievements."