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Student Earns Linked Learning Student of the Year Award

LBUSD Student Winner Maria Ignatencu

Maria Ignatencu of Sato Academy of Mathematics and Science has been announced as a recipient of the 2024 Linked Learning Students of the Year Award, which recognizes civic excellence and honors those who have made meaningful contributions to their community through a Linked Learning pathway experience.

Ignatencu, who is enrolled in Sato’s engineering pathway, has been recognized for regularly sharing her knowledge and passion to spark young students’ interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). She coaches a middle school drone soccer team, helps run summer and winter drone camps for elementary students and regularly participates in STEM demonstration and outreach events. As she researches and develops plans for younger students, she is also building her own confidence and capability on her path to the future.

“My experiences in school have helped me to see all the different engineering pathways I can take after high school. Field trips and presenters have shown me all the careers available and the kinds of education that I need to succeed in different paths that my life can take,” shared Ignatencu. “I plan on getting internships for more hands-on experiences, and going to college to specialize in mechanical or aerospace engineering.”

Ignatencu is one of 11 recipients selected from school districts across California. All awardees were nominated by educators and partners in their communities.

“Maria Ignatencu’s recognition as Linked Learning Student of the Year is a profound testament to her exceptional dedication and innovation in the engineering pathway at Sato Academy,” Superintendent Dr. Jill A. Baker said. “Her achievements exemplify the synergy between academic rigor and practical application, a cornerstone of our education system. Congratulations to Maria for meeting the high standards of excellence we strive for in Long Beach Unified.”

“The Alliance is committed to centering our work in the student experience. This award underscores how Linked Learning students are making connections far beyond the classroom to enhance their own learning—and that this benefit is mutual, carried into the communities and workplaces where these students are active,” said Anne Stanton, President and CEO of the Linked Learning Alliance. “Our biggest congratulations to these amazing students!”

Linked Learning is a proven approach to education that integrates rigorous academics with real-world learning and strong support services to prepare students for success in college, career and life. Through Linked Learning, students learn in educational pathways that intentionally connect the classroom to local business and civic life to encourage students to discover their power and make a real difference in their communities.

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