The pandemic did not stop Bishop’s students from excelling in their intellectual pursuits, whether inside the classroom or in their communities.
Anaiya Abney ’21 Receives Congressional Medals
To say that Anaiya Abney ‘21 accomplished a great deal during her four years at Bishop would be an understatement. In her time, she grew in every way – spiritually, intellectually, physically and socially – because of an inner drive she credits, in part, to her parents. It is no surprise that the awards and recognitions she received piled up.
One look at Abney’s list of extracurricular activities she was involved in at Bishop illustrates that she has dedicated herself to being well-rounded. She participated in Bishop’s largest service organization, Concordia Club; was a member of the school’s chapters of National Honor Society and California Scholarship Federation; ran on the girls’ track & field team; and served as the ASB Commissioner of Activities. And that is just the start.
In the spring, Abney received one of the most prestigious national awards given to young Americans – Bronze and Silver Congressional Medals from the United States Congress – based on some of her activities and service outside of Bishop. The Congressional Award, a non-partisan, voluntary, and non-competitive program, honors students for their achievements in four areas: volunteer service, personal development, physical fitness, and expedition. In a 12-month period, Abney had to complete over 400 hours of service, development and physical activity in addition to two days of exploration and expedition. It was a daunting task, but Abney took on the challenge willingly. “My primary motivation was not only the Congressional honor,” she says, “but also my desire for personal growth and development.”
For her public service component, Abney had to complete 200 hours of volunteer work that had to be performed without pay, compensation or school credit. Abney focused her time working as a Blood Donor Ambassador for the American Red Cross and serving an active role at the Pregnancy Help Center in Torrance. For her personal development, Abney enrolled in the Elite Educational Institute, a local SAT prep center to improve her test endurance and test scores. For her physical fitness component, Abney competed on the BMHS track team as a sprinter in both the 100 and 200 meters. In these three phases of the award program, Abney completed over 400 hours; she was far from finished.
For the exploration component, Abney was required to complete two days challenging herself through interaction in the wilderness or by immersing herself in an unfamiliar culture. Abney went above and beyond the minimum requirements. “I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and experience a totally different environment than what I was used to,” she says. “So I spent a week on a farm outside of Dallas.” It was quite the learning experience for Abney.
Each day on the farm was a completely new experience for Abney. She had daily chores – cleaning chicken coops, collecting fresh eggs and feeding the horses – but life on a farm is so unpredictable that things changed on a daily basis. “There are things that I did constantly and daily like feeding livestock, but everything else depends on what needs to be done on the farm that day,” she says. “Living life on a farm really taught me valuable life lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I learned never to say that I could not do something until I tried it. I was also reminded to be extremely thankful and respectful of the opportunities I am afforded.”
In addition to the Congressional Award, Abney was one of Bishop’s valedictorians, graduated Summa Cum Laude, and received the school’s prestigious Knight of the Year Award for her dedication and service to BMHS. And to top it all off, she accepted a merit scholarship to attend USC, where she will major in History with a Pre-Law emphasis (she was also accepted to Stanford University). Though she is a very self-motivated young woman, she goes out of her way to point out that her parents are responsible for much of her success. “My parents have been perfect examples of tenacity and drive growing up,” she says. Despite any obstacles, my parents have always made sacrifices to ensure that I had the best opportunities to reach my goals. I truly believe that without their example and unconditional love and motivation, it would have been harder for me to reach my goals.”
A new set of goals awaits Abney as she prepares for college. With the foundation she received from Bishop Montgomery, Abney plans to continue to “face each challenge with the love of my family and with the guidance of God, through whom I can do all things.”
Hunter Williams ’22: Young Entrepreneur
In April, Hunter Williams ‘22 learned that six months of hard work was all worth it. As a member of the Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce’s Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!), Williams spent hundreds of hours brainstorming and researching an idea, writing a business plan, learning about various aspects of business, and hearing from other successful entrepreneurs. In the end, Williams’ business, Brushed, was chosen by a panel of Manhattan Beach business leaders as the winner of the Saunders Award, the competition’s highest honor.
The accolades, however, did not end there. Williams also qualified for the Saunders Scholars National Competition held on June 26 where he was one of 20 young entrepreneurs from across the United States and India competing for the title of America’s Next Top Entrepreneur. Although he did not win, Williams was one of six teenagers to advance to the finals of the competition.
Brushed is an online marketplace for the “wave” hairstyle and aims to be an “everything store” for hair care products – including brushes, pomades, oils and nightwear – that cater to that style. Williams’ motivation for the business was two-fold. “My inspiration for the company was my love for haircare as well as the lack of options and variety when it came to my hairstyle,” he says. In all, Williams competed against 16 students who all pitched their ideas to a group of investors, Shark Tank-style, for real money to start their businesses. With his winnings, Williams plans to launch his app and website.
During the pitch in the local competition, Williams was given four minutes to outline his idea, marketing plans, and financing strategy. It was certainly a stressful moment, but Williams was prepared. He credits part of his success to both his English and Math classes at Bishop. “Every English class has aided me in creating a thorough and understandable business plan,” he says. “My Algebra classes also helped me arrange and predict numbers for sales projections.”
When asked what he learned the most throughout the entire process, Williams remarked that learning some of the ins and outs of business helped him prepare to run the company. What he learned about himself, however, was even more valuable. “While starting my business, I began trusting myself and understanding that my intuition was my most important tool for making decisions,” he says. In addition to launching an app and a website, the next step Williams envisions for Brushed is to develop a line of products for women and continue to educate others while building his community and his brand. You can find Brushed on Instagram @brushedlive.
Watch Williams compete in the Saunders Scholars National Competition below (at the 1.59:00 mark).
Bishop Montomgery was chosen by residents of Lomita as the Best Private High School in the 2020 Best of Lomita Awards.
For the third year in a row, Bishop Montgomery was named the South Bay’s Best Private High School in the 30th Annual Reader’s Choice Awards presented by the Daily Breeze, The Beach Reporter and the Palos Verdes Peninsula News.
Student and faculty excellence in the arts was on display at the Annual Arts Festival in the spring. In March, BMHS celebrated with a virtual concert, art gallery and film festival. Visit www.bmhs-la.org/artsfest/.