Juliana Missano, a senior at The Keystone School, was among 161 students from across the country recognized as a United States Presidential Scholar by the U.S. Department of Education on May 5.
Established in 1964, the U.S. Presidential Scholars program recognizes the nation’s most distinguished graduating high school seniors. It is one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students who exemplify academic excellence. Juliana is one of only 20 U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts.
Juliana started dancing when she was six years old and it quickly became apparent that she had a gift.
“Since she was little, she had a passion and love for ballet,” said her mother, Anna Missano. “You need so much dedication, and it’s just amazing to me how she can do it all day long and love it.”
After attending her local brick-and-mortar schools through ninth grade, Juliana decided to look into full-time dance schools so she could spend more time training. A native of Lloyd Harbor, New York, she selected the Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia.
“I based the decision (to let her be away from home) on her maturity and her dedication and love for ballet,” she said, adding that Philadelphia is still close enough that Juliana can easily go home on weekends.
Anna adds the academic program was also a large factor in picking the Rock School, where students can choose between three online school programs. The Missanos selected Keystone.
“I have had an incredible experience with Keystone,” Juliana said. “I have been able to thrive in my academics due to the flexibility it gives me. This program allows me to get my work done on my own time, and I am grateful for that with my busy dance schedule.”
Juliana said being away from home and going to school virtually has made her more mature taught her the importance of self-discipline.
“Being on my own, I have developed a sense of independence,” she said. “I became responsible for myself, and having good discipline is key for me. I am well-prepared for my future.“
Her future includes an apprenticeship with the Atlanta Ballet Company beginning this August. The director discovered Julianna when she won the Youth America Grand Prix in Atlanta and offered her the apprenticeship. Juliana accepted without auditioning anywhere else.
But first up is a trip to Washington, D.C., next month with her fellow Presidential Scholars. In addition to a ceremony in which she will receive a Presidential Scholar medallion, the Presidential Scholars in the Arts will present their work to the public at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.