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October 8, 2020
District 207 Board Honors Students for Academic Achievement

The District 207 Board of Education named four students as “207’s Best” in the area of academic achievement during the October meeting. The students recognized at a recent meeting were Anna Kalena from Maine West, Isabella Piekut and Nicole Piekut from Maine East and Catherine Sernel from Maine South.


Left to right: Anna Kalena, Catherine Sernel, Isabella Piekut and Nicole Piekut.


Anna is a member of nearly all of the honor societies at Maine West including National Honor Society, as well as Science, Social Science, Math, English, and Spanish honor societies. She also is a member of the Principal’s Leadership Team, the French Club, Senior Leaders, Philosophy Club and the Math Team (where she is a former MVP). She serves as a chemistry teaching assistant and holds a part-time job at Target. In addition, Anna was recently named a National Merit Semifinalist. 

Anna’s love of learning and her love of people intersect to guide her future pursuits. She plans to study one or more areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). In addition, she has a passion for the verbal and written arts and says she “loves talking about ethics, metaphysics, and political philosophy.”

“She’s the person who always treats everyone with dignity and respect, including herself,” says science teacher Leslie Vaughn. “She’s the one in cooperative groups who always draws the other students into the work.”

“She was always smiling, asking her group members questions, and she truly cared about what her group members learned as much as she cared about her own learning,” says world languages teacher Aaron Fleming. “With student leadership like Anna’s, we were able to build a positive classroom community of learners in which we challenged each other and supported one another.”


Bella and Nicole, twin sisters, have achieved weighted GPAs placing them among the very top of this year’s senior class at Maine East as both have a cumulative GPA that are higher than 4.8. Both have consistently taken a challenging course load during their time at Maine East and both are currently enrolled in Multivariable Calculus and Differential Equations, AP English Literature and Composition, AP Physics C, and AP US/Comparative Government in addition to Symphonic Orchestra. In fact the only difference in their schedules this year is that Bella is in Spanish 4 Accelerated and Nicole is taking AP Spanish Language (due to the fact that Nicole started studying Spanish in junior high prior to Bella). Prior course enrollments for both students include AP Calculus BC, AP Biology, AP U.S. History, AP English Language and Composition, AP European History, AP Chemistry, and AP World History. They were both named as National Merit Semifinalists recently.

Nicole and Bella are nationally-ranked debaters and serve this year as co-captains of the Maine East Debate team. They are also both members of the Gifted Lyceum Program, National Honor Society, and both are leaders in a student-led tutoring, nationally-based organization called Embolden Tutoring. In that organization Bella is Co-Executive Director and Nicole is Outreach Coordinator.

“Bella and Nicole Piekut are undoubtedly two of our school’s top students,” says math teacher Mark Dobner. “They both have challenged themselves by taking the most demanding classes offered and have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to excellence, consistently delivering top quality work. No matter how challenging or abstract a task may be, Bella and Nicole always thrive, exhibiting impressive problem-solving skills and thorough analytic thought.”

“Isabella and Nicole Piekut have been outstanding members of the Maine East Orchestra for four years,” says Director of Orchestras Sarah Djordjevic. “They both advanced to Symphonic Orchestra quickly and are hardworking violinists who play at a high level. What stands out to me the most about them is their fierce determination to play at a high level. Evidence of this can be seen in their assignments and constant revision of their work. They are consistent and strong players that bring a great strength to our ensemble and passion to every performance.”


From the beginning of her educational journey, Catherine Sernel has always been one to immediately get to work without procrastinating. Her tireless work ethic has made her one of the most academically accomplished students at Maine South.  The courses she has taken included Multivariable Calculus, AP Literature and AP Computer Science. She also serves as a physical education senior leader and is a Hawk Pride leader.

Her co-curricular activities have included the soccer team and basketball her freshman and sophomore year. For four years she has been on the math team, president of NHS, a math tutor, a member of Key Club, and Science Honor Society. She has also received department awards including Science (AP Physics), Social Science (AP Econ), English (English 1 Acc), and Spanish (Acc 1, 2, 3). She was recently recognized as a distinguished AP national scholar and named a National Merit Commended student recently. 

“In my over thirty years in the field of education, Catherine stands out as one of the finest people and students,” says her counselor Bill Milano. “Her modest and humble demeanor underlies the mindset of an exceptional and driven learner. Regardless of the task and the challenge, this elite individual rises to the occasion and exceeds expectations.”

“Catherine was my student for two years in a row and to be able to see how much she grew as a student was incredible,” says Erin Albee, Accelerated Spanish 2 and 3 teacher. “She is a quiet leader, someone who does not seek the spotlight, but is always there – listening, participating, and taking it all in.  She is a patient mentor to her classmates, always willing to help anyone who needs it.  She is also an incredibly hard worker, and her efforts show in her successes in class.