Posted on January 9, 2024
Categories: Student of the Month

“Don’t worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition.” – Abraham Lincoln

Robert King Vaux seniorSchool: Vaux Big Picture
Nominator: Ms. Danina, English Teacher

Robert King was surprised to learn he’d been awarded the Student of the Month, not because he isn’t worthy but because he’s just doing what comes naturally to him. He works hard, he’s generous and helpful to others, and he’s pursuing something he loves with effort and enthusiasm.

Robert, the son of parents whose careers take the family all around the country, working at various colleges as an architect (mom) and housing director (dad), ended up at Vaux halfway through high school, after moving once again, this time from Cincinnati. “We’ve moved around a bit – Knoxville, University of Illinois Urbana, New York at Cornell, Cincinnati – we’ve been all over. Moving around that much is hard of course, and I miss a lot of my friends but I’ve been able to adjust pretty well, and I’m happy to be here at Vaux.” he says comfortably.

His nominator, English teacher Ms. Danina, confirms, “Robert has maintained this academic and social excellence despite having to frequently move with his family.

He is an exemplary student in every way: student body president, honor roll recipient, a key member of the Varsity Basketball and baseball teams, and a brilliant, kind and caring participant in every class. He is a wonderful leader and mature beyond his age. He is reliable, dedicated and is always willing to support others in need.”

One way Robert has gone above and beyond is at his internship with University of Pennsylvania and used his skills in coding and software engineering to help design a digital app to support college students in seeking financial aid. He recently presented this app as part of a financial-aid support event for his peers, helping other 12th grade students navigate their path to college.

He plans to pursue his own path to college, and is currently looking at favorites including Temple, Penn State (haven’t heard yet), Drexel and of course, UPenn too.

“I started coding in 5th grade when some friends introduced me to Scratch. Right away, I started creating projects, like an environmental simulator that showed how different animals sun and water interacted in an ecosystem. I also created a few video games on Scratch and Roblox. And now I’m doing web development,” he adds.

“One of the things I’d like to explore in college is how game development can be used in education to teach younger people. When I was younger I used to play a lot of educational video games like Prodigy, which was a math game like Pokemon but with math. That was something I really enjoyed and it was also reinforcing some of my learning. Seeing what we could do to help students find resources that were fun and help them learn could be both cool and interesting.”

One of his other favorite projects at Vaux is his role as president of the student council, where his primary responsibilities have been helping organize and volunteer at different events, being an ambassador for the school, and making/announcing the daily announcements. His personal touch to the morning announcements always involves a shout-out – to a student who deserves a pat on the back, or a Vaux sports team.

Ms. Danina adds, “He has organized community clean up days with his peers to beautify the neighborhood around Vaux, as well as initiating community service activities for people in the community struggling with food insecurity. He has been a major coordinator of school events, including homecoming dances, Spirit Week, and many other culture-building activities.”

We asked Robert our favorite lineup of questions:

  1. What does being named Senior of the Month mean to you?

I feel honored to win this award. I’ve been working hard during high school to prepare myself for the future, and it feels good to be recognized for my work. I know my family is proud of me, and I want to keep making them proud.

  1. Why do you think you were nominated for Senior of the Month?

I was nominated for the work I do to serve my school and my community. In class, I help my peers and push them to work harder. I also do front-end coding for my Internship, where I work to teach financial literacy and help high school students learn about paying for college.

  1. You were nominated by Ms. Danina. Explain your relationship to her. Why do you think she nominated you specifically? 

Ms. Danina is one of the best teachers at Vaux and one of my English teachers, who’s always supported me and a lot of other students. She helped me finish my common app essay. She gave me some important advice that helped me improve my SAT reading score, among other things. I think she nominated me because she sees what I do in the classroom to support my classmates. I try to help people with their writing, and I’m an engaged learner in all of my classes.

  1. What is one thing you’d like to share about yourself that most people don’t know about you?

Most people don’t know that I hate candy. I like chocolate and other desserts but I don’t even like the smell of plain sugary candy!

  1. What do you enjoy most when you are not at school? 

When I’m not at school, I enjoy playing video games and watching sports. My favorite video games are Minecraft and Roblox. My favorite basketball team is the OKC Thunder.

  1. In your opinion, what is the best thing about attending school at Vaux Big Picture? 

The best thing about Vaux is the internships. Every student gets an internship that lets them explore their interests. It’s been super helpful for me and my classmates, and I’ve learned a lot about computer programming through my Internship. My Internship is working with Wharton, Levra Labs, and other high school students to build Finiverse is a website built by high schoolers to teach other high schoolers about paying for college. I developed our Parent Plus Page, worked on the SAI form, and updated the IDR calculations.

My other favorite thing about attending Vaux is the very supportive community. The teachers and staff work hard to teach and mentor students. There’s less drama than the other schools I’ve been at, and generally, students support each other and have fun together.

  1. In your opinion, what is one thing that the School District could do to improve our service to students? 

The School District has to improve the quality of school lunches. It’s been a big topic of discussion between students and teachers, and it needs to be fixed. Soggy Sandwiches, Overheated and dry food. I’ve heard that some of the meals that are supposed to be hot are cold.

As Ms. Danina says, [Robert] rises to every challenge without fail and will definitely go far in life.” We agree wholeheartedly and wish you the very best Robert!