NASSP sits at the intersection of student and school leadership. Any progress in our schools must start with those who are a part of them, and the combined effect of these groups working together is greater than each working alone. This power was on full display during NASSP’s Trailblazing Leadership Week, April 22-25, which brought together the State Principals and Assistant Principals of the Year, the National Honor Society Scholarship finalists, and their advisers to recognize their accomplishments and connect with one another in Washington, D.C.

Attendees visited Capitol Hill, explored DC’s historic sites, and took some well-deserved time for themselves. The highlight was NASSP’s NHS Scholar and Assistant Principal of the Year Gala held Sunday night. Dressed in their finest, attendees gathered to celebrate and recognize school and student leaders from across the country. The night began with the 25 NHS Scholarship finalists receiving certificates of achievement. Each finalist also won a $5,625 scholarship, an impressive feat considering that 13,000 applicants vied for the top award, a $25,000 scholarship.

Jeremias Castillo, the 2023 NHS Scholarship National Winner, with NASSP CEO Ronn Nozoe.

That honor belonged to Jeremias Castillo, a senior at Technology High School in Newark, NJ. The vice president of his school’s NHS chapter, Castillo was thrilled to be named this year’s national winner. “A lot of times it feels like the little things you’re putting together aren’t significant, but here everything came together to affirm that what I have been doing has made an impact,” he said. “I’ve been able to use the platforms I have available to speak about leveling out health disparities, which is my passion. It felt like everything up to this moment has been worth it, and everything is working toward bettering my community.”

This year, NHS awarded more than $2 million in scholarships to 600 high school seniors. At the Gala, four other finalists were each awarded a $10,625 scholarship for embodying the pillars of NHS:

From left: Sophie Kloppenburg, Alexis Magnano, Jeremias Castillo, Serena Goyal, and Kanghui Zhang.
  • Serena Goyal from Clarksville, MD, won the Scholarship award.
  • Alexis Magnano from Ponte Vedra, FL, won the Service award.
  • Kanghui Zhang from Rancho Cucamonga, CA, won the Leadership award.
  • Sophie Kloppenburg from Mount Vernon, IN, won the Character award.

“These phenomenal NHS students are on the cusp of graduating with the highest honors and will leave behind a legacy of servant leadership that has transformed their schools and communities,” said NASSP President Aaron Huff. “During their time in NHS, they have sought to address important issues such as poverty, environmental sustainability, healthcare access, and social justice—and they’ve done so with enthusiasm and determination.”

Misa Sato, the 2023 National Assistant Principal of the Year.

The final winner of the night was Misa Sato, assistant principal of Reagan High School in Milwaukee, WI. She was named the 2023 National Assistant Principal of the Year for boosting academic achievement at her school and inspiring and preparing her students to serve as the next generation of educators.

“Assistant principals are leading some of the most critical and innovative programming in schools, and Misa embodies these efforts,” said NASSP CEO Ronn Nozoe. “She has directly tackled the educator shortage by building career-related programming in her school and community that prepares her students to become educators, thus building a pipeline of future teachers. Reagan High is lucky to have her, and we’re grateful to have dedicated leaders like Misa that bring their passion and drive in service of their community.”

You can learn more about Misa Sato on NASSP’s In the News page.

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