Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008

BHS student named one of Bowie’s BEST

Student leader honored for efforts in academics, citizenship and community service

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Raphael Talisman⁄The Star
Bowie High School junior Taneesha Tate-Robinson, 17 of Bowie has earned more awards than any other student from Bowie’s BEST High School program. The awards were given because of Tate-Robinson’s volunteer work in the community including organizing an effort in her school to help areas damaged by Hurricane Katrina and volunteering in community theater.
Many assume 11th-grader Taneesha Tate-Robinson will pursue a career in government. As the parliamentarian of Bowie High School’s Student Government Association and a regional representative for the Maryland Association of Student Councils, she’s learning all the right skills.

‘‘I’m pretty honest and pretty outspoken, so I don’t know if that would be a good role,” she said, laughing.

Beyond participating in student government, Tate-Robinson, 17, has taken on a hefty share of responsibilities at her school, recently earning her three of the school’s Benevolent Education Supporters and Students awards. Of 35 student award recipients she was the only one to receive three awards — for academics, citizenship and community service.

‘‘It’s important that students like her be honored because they put forth so much effort to be as awesome as they are, and ask for little in return,” said Bowie High principal Jane Spence, who helped to organize the new award recognition this year.

Enthusiastic about meeting new people and taking on new challenges, Tate-Robinson admits that she sometimes has to slow down and reevaluate her priorities. Organizing the school’s upcoming trip to adopted city D’Iberville, Miss. has robbed her of sleep recently.

Until her friend 11th-grader Yvonne Eseonu stepped in as a co-chairwoman two weeks ago, Tate-Robinson was the lone person in charge of organizing the trip.

‘‘I’m in three classes with her and every single day she would put out there in each class, ‘Do you want to go to D’Iberville?’” Eseonu said. ‘‘She is just so determined and motivated and she always follows through on things.”

Having attended the trip last year, Tate-Robinson said it was a lot of fun to be in a new city and meet new people there. Beginning at 6 a.m., Tate-Robinson’s days are often long and she likes to make the most of every minute. She manages to cram volunteer work, committee and club meetings, cross country, leadership conferences, a part-time job, and advanced placement coursework into her schedule.

‘‘Sometimes, I feel like I don’t do enough but I know it’s not true,” said Tate-Robinson.

Bowie PTSO president Mary Nusser said she met Tate-Robinson years ago when her older sisters were in the student government.

Concern for others runs in the family, Nusser said.

‘‘But with each Tate-Robinson they seem to get better and better,” she said. ‘‘[Taneesha] has that little extra spark that you tend to notice and it’s almost as if she is an older soul.”

Always looking to get involved in new activities, she is trying to find time to participate in the city of Bowie’s education committee. Even though it’s only seniors planning this year’s prom and graduation, Tate-Robinson sits in on planning meetings so she’ll know how to run them next year.

Despite her star status at Bowie, Tate-Robinson remains humble.

‘‘I don’t have a strong subject, I’m just average in all of them,” said the National Honor Society member.

In a pre-calculus class she said she initially felt awkward seeking the help of younger students but realized if she wanted to do well it didn’t matter who she asked. Tate-Robinson’s four older sisters have also been there when she needed help with school subjects. But above all, she said her mother has been her greatest supporter.

‘‘She drives me everywhere I have to go,” said Tate-Robinson, who has been too busy with all her activities to get her driver’s license. ‘‘Now my mother has taught me to make lists.”

To keep all her activities in order Tate-Robinson said she has become a constant list maker and to-do book organizer.

Though it’s frequently only five hours of sleep that Tate-Robinson gets a night, she said she loves staying involved.

‘‘Helping people is a lot of fun,” Tate-Robinson said, explaining that she often manages to recruit friends for the projects she joins.

‘‘She makes difficult projects look easy and she always does it with a smile,” Nusser said.

E-mail Andrea Noble at