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Mario Holmes Making High Achievements in STEM

Mario Holmes smiles in the hallway of Valley Park Middle School.

May 9, 2023 - Mario Holmes is not even in high school yet, but he is earning accolades left and right as an eighth grade student at Valley Park Middle School. He is a 2021-22 National Junior Honor Society member, was selected as student of the month in October 2022, and is also one of 16 students who was chosen to participate in the BrightPath STEAM Academy program at Washington University in St. Louis. Not only did he receive a Certificate of Achievement for his accomplishments in STEM, he was also given a full ride scholarship. 

“The last few years have been really awesome and I’m really proud of myself for all the progress I’ve made,” said Holmes. “For the program at Wash U, I went there every Saturday morning in the fall and worked on science projects with the professors. We learned about environmental challenges and how to make plastic from plants. It was really cool to actually work on campus at the school of engineering.” 

Mario’s journey has not always been easy, though. He was diagnosed with Ischemia when he was in the second grade which affects blood flow to certain parts of the body. As a result, Holmes has been on chemo and was in and out of the hospital in elementary school.

“When I was first diagnosed, I was on 15 medications and the process of taking those medications took 10 minutes. But now, I'm only taking one medication and come to school everyday,” said Holmes. “I have definitely caught up academically from the time period that I wasn’t in school, so I’m doing really well.” 

Jamie Papan is Mario’s former case manager and current teacher. She helps him with reading and writing and provides test accommodations. She says he is more confident than ever before and commends him on his willingness to learn and try new things. This is evident through Mario’s commitment to create a company and website called MAH Studios. He also is an Assistant Student Tech Support Ambassador at Valley Park Middle School - assisting the IT department with tech issues around the district.

“This required him to write a cover letter, resume, and ask for letters of recommendation from his teachers,” said Papan. “I want Mario to know how proud I am of his amazing transformation since his early years in middle school. I have really enjoyed these last three years working with him and watching him grow. I want him to know what an incredible young man he has become.”

In April, friends and family joined Holmes for the Friends of Kids with Cancer walk at Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park. Mario is thankful for all of the support he has received and looks forward to his new chapter as a high schooler.