By: Jamari Tyree, Grade 10

Richard Wright PCS Student Writer

Dr. Marco Clark, also known as “America’s toughest principal,” has accomplished many feats in the education sector nationally and, for the last 15 years, in Washington, DC.  On January 13, Clark hit another major mark as he became the recipient of the Joseph R. Biden Presidential Lifetime Achievement and Service Award for his leadership in education and his service to humanity throughout his life.

Dr. Marco Clark is a well-known educator, entrepreneur, author, public speaker, and veteran of public education. He is the Founder and CEO of the Richard Wright Public Charter School for Journalism and Media Arts in Southwest Washington, DC, as well as the Chairman of “Man the Block,” an organization dedicated to ensuring safe passage for kids to and from school. Dr. Clark is a member of the Beta Psi 1923 Foundation’s Board of Trustees, and he is an outspoken champion for a variety of youth clubs, organizations, and other charitable organizations dedicated to restoring religion, decency, and order in public school teaching. With the support of his family and friends throughout his long journey, Dr. Clark graduated from Clark Atlanta University and received a master’s degree in special education from Coppin State University. Later, he completed a doctoral program in higher education at Morgan State University.  Nearly 25 years after being classified as functionally illiterate, at the age of 34, Dr. Clark became a Doctor of Education and a renowned educator and scholar.

Helen Compton-Harris, Richard Wright’s Director of Outreach, Planning, and Development, said of Dr. Clark’s recent achievement, “I am thrilled and delighted that our CEO and Founder, Dr. Marco Clark, received the 2022-2023 Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in education and the President’s Volunteer Service Award for his commitment to serve others throughout his lifetime.  The recognition is so well deserved!  Additionally, our amazing students performed songs for the audience and greeted other esteemed awardees and guests.  What a beautiful evening it was.” 

The Joseph R. Biden Presidential Lifetime Achievement Awards Ceremony is conducted to recognize people who have made noteworthy lifetime achievements contributing to the betterment of life in the United States. They may make significant contributions to society in a variety of ways. The ceremony began with a U.S. Navy Honor Guard and a moving performance of the national anthem by saxophonist Brian Lanier. 

Dr. Beverly Key, Executive Director of Premiere Coalition Partners Association and Vice President of Global Initiatives at TIS Foundation, together with Reverend Dr. George E. Holmes and Reverend Darryl D. Roberts, served as the event’s hosts. Dr. Homes is also a past President of the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly (SWNA). The Richard Wright student choir, led by Mr. Roger Murray, and other adult choirs from Washington, DC gave powerful musical performances throughout the evening.

Award recipients included well known personalities such as Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the Isley Brothers, and other community leaders and government officials. The late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, and his late wife Mrs. Cecilia Marshall received honors posthumously. 

In addition to Dr. Clark, ten Richard Wright students received honorary medals for outstanding scholarship and leadership. They are: 

Grade 10 recipients: Rae Tyson, Makalya Napper, Dajanae Armstrong 

Grade 11 recipients: Daria Craddock, Amalia Nurkanova

Grade 12 recipients: Charles Murphy, Taron Lawson, Kayla Briggs, Asia Thomas, Caitlyn Taylor

This ceremony is an important achievement for all those recognized. They are all citizens who contributed to the improvement of their communities and country through their work.  This event was established to honor individuals whose service positively impacts and inspires those around them to take action. Several of President Biden’s friends and supporters spoke about President Biden’s lengthy political career and the numerous ways he has contributed to positive change in the United States. But what made this event even more special is that our own Dr. Clark and ten of our classmates were acknowledged. We are Richard Wright proud of them!   

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