The Distinguished Student Leadership (DSL) Program helps secondary schools identify students who have achieved a high level of leadership skill and knowledge while also building their expertise. Open year-round, the program enables students to create a leadership portfolio, engage in associated activities, and write a reflective essay (which they upload and submit online) on their leadership philosophy. Students can begin their portfolio anytime and add their achievements as a leader throughout the school year. The final portfolio serves as a record of their achievements and leadership commitment and can be used as a reference when applying for college and scholarships. Advisers play a supportive role in this program by validating the portfolio for final submission. Here, we highlight two students who have been recognized as Distinguished Student Leaders at their schools. 

Isabella Mandel, a senior at John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore, NY

Adviser: Bradley Seidman 

A student council leader since ninth grade, Isabella is a member of NHS. As a group leader, she strives to ensure that others’ ideas are heard and that everyone’s voice is valued. Isabella believes that defining your core principles and perspectives shapes your leadership philosophy and results in consistency when it comes to making decisions.

Jerry Mendoza, a junior at West Career & Technical Academy in Las Vegas 

Adviser: Nicole Brooks Donolli 

Jerry is a student council officer and a member of NHS. He enjoys being a leader whose leadership philosophy is based on communicating effectively, problem-solving, leading by example, and fostering inclusion. Jerry credits the DSL curriculum for helping him learn more about his core values as a leader. 

For more on the DSL Program, visit