- The Washington Times - Friday, March 29, 2002

Benjamin Banneker High School senior Durriyyah Johnson almost wore her Georgetown sweat shirt to school yesterday, but her mother tricked her into changing at the last minute.
Good thing. It was George Washington University officials who surprised her in class yesterday by offering Durriyyah a full four-year scholarship.
Clearly surprised at the intrusion and overwhelmed by the offer, the 17-year-old wiped away tears. "I don't know what to say." Then she smiled and thanked GWU officials.
"I received an acceptance letter from the school last night with a small scholarship offer. I didn't expect this."
Yesterday, George Washington went to six D.C. schools bearing nine full scholarships for some of the city's highest-achieving students to attend the university.
"We have always believed in beginning our search for the best and brightest students right here in our back yard," said university President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, for whom the scholarships are named.
The students are selected based on their class rank, grade-point average, SAT scores, course of study, teacher recommendations, leadership qualities, community service and extracurricular activities.
Durriyyah, who plays varsity tennis and plans to study German, is ranked fourth in her class. She tutors classmates and "is a real joy to work with," said school guidance counselor Vermita Jefferson.
"She is articulate and humble and was one of my favorite interviews," said Sammie Robinson, GW's associate director for admissions. "She overcame a lot of obstacles, being raised by a single parent in a family of eight sisters and one brother, to rise to the top of her class."
Her mother, Dietrich Johnson, cried as TV cameras and school officials poured into her classroom.
"She's such a blessing," she said. "She's serious, caring, diligent and organized. She has worked so hard."
Now the only question is whether she will accept the offer. She has applied to Harvard, Princeton and several other illustrious schools.
"Everyone wants these kids," said George Washington University's Gretchen King. "About 50 percent accept."
Others who received scholarships were Berhanu Feyssa of Bell Multicultural High School; Janet McFadden of Calvin Coolidge High School; Kahina Robinson of Duke Ellington School of the Arts; Gareth Edwards, Anaid Gonzalez and May-Mei Lee of School Without Walls; Christian Washington of Woodrow Wilson; and Durriyyah's classmate, Green Miller III.
Green, 17, is ranked eighth in his class at Benjamin Banneker, is president of the school's chess team, plays trombone and saxophone in the D.C. youth orchestra and comes to school early every morning for calculus. He said he knew "something was up" yesterday, but didn't expect the scholarship.
"My work paid off," he said. "It is exciting."
His parents stood nearby beaming. "He's worked hard and is an extremely gifted child," said his father, Green Miller Jr. "It's too seldom that kids like this receive some justification for their hard work. We generally hear only about the ones doing bad. This makes them feel worthwhile."
Mr. Miller attributed his gray hair to Green, but said when someone has a son with the kind of academic achievement that includes finishing high school with a 3.5 GPA, "everything else is small stuff."
"As we say in my family, 'We are getting him to the dance,'" he said. "And he is about to get his ticket."


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