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From Classroom to Presidential Honor: Remarkable Accomplishment of CSSM Student and Educator



In a historic display of academic prowess and dedication to education, Cleveland School of Science and Medicine's 2024 valedictorian, Chardon Black, and Foreign Language teacher, Rev B.A. Gregg, a 2023 Excellence in Teaching Award recipient, were named U.S. Presidential Scholar and Distinguished Teacher.  This is the first time a Cleveland Metropolitan School District student and educator has earned this prestigious distinction.

Black is just one of two students in Ohio to receive this esteemed recognition, adding to the many accolades he has earned during his early academic career.

“It's really an honor,” said Black. I think about what I wrote in my application. I wrote about being an activist and overcoming racial injustices.”


Chardon’s journey to academic success has been marked by perseverance and a drive to set an example for those around him. Despite facing challenges and instances of racial injustice, Chardon has emerged as a leader and advocate for change.

"I think writing about that struggle and then writing about how I work to overcome that struggle with my peers, I believe, really set me apart and allowed me to show that I'm willing to do the work now, even at a young age,” said Chardon.

Chardon, a Questbridge and Gates scholarship recipient, plans to attend Princeton in the fall and major in political science with a minor in Africana studies.

His achievements extend beyond academics; Chardon's dedication to mentorship and uplifting others exemplifies the values his family and upbringing instilled in him.

Reverend Gregg, an esteemed Latin and Greek teacher at CSSM, has been making waves in the academic world for the last 35 years with his innovative approach to education and unwavering commitment to his students' success.

"I wanted to work with students like me,” said Rev. Gregg. "Those who society might write off, based on where they come from or who their family is."


Rev. Gregg defied the odds and became a National Merit Scholar in high school despite his siblings going down opposite paths. He recalls his humble Nebraska beginnings growing up in poverty. He says that is why he moved to Cleveland: to make a difference in the lives of underprivileged children, which is reminiscent of his upbringing.  

“I remember going to my mom and dad for help with an application, and they said, ‘I don't know, you figure it out.’ I figured it out, but not everybody has that opportunity.” said Rev. Gregg. “That is why I did what I did for Chardon and the other students.

And he was humbled when Chardon nominated him for the U.S. Presidential Distinguished Teachers Award.

“When Chardon told me about the recognition, I was like ‘Wow!’ that made me tear up a little bit inside,” said Rev. Gregg.

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964, by executive order of the President, to recognize and honor some of our nation's most distinguished graduating high school seniors.

The Presidential Scholars Class of 2024 will be recognized this summer with an online ceremony.