Seymour Scholars tour elementary schools in caps and gowns


Donning white or purple graduation gowns, nine Seymour High School students caught the attention of the elementary kids.

When the boys and girls understood why they were at their school a couple of weeks before graduation, they were inspired to work hard on their studies so they could someday achieve the same feat.

The Seymour High School Scholar Award is presented to students who satisfy all requirements for an Indiana Core 40 with Academic Honors Diploma and earn a minimum of 54 credits, 36 academic credits (eight in English, math and science and six in social studies and world languages), 11 credits in Advanced Placement courses with no grades lower than a B and grade-point average of 4.90 or higher for the 54 qualifying credits.

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Students must take at least one AP course in the four core subject areas of English, math, science and social studies and a minimum of one AP exam in each of the core subject areas.

Delaney Cummings, Emma Ramp, Nicole Elmore, Natalia Garcia, Tess Allman, Jessica Blevins, Baleigh Penrose, Elizabeth Lenart and Brandon Holtman were happy to share their insight during the annual Seymour Scholars elementary tour.

On May 15, they visited Cortland, Emerson, Seymour-Jackson, Margaret R. Brown and Seymour-Redding elementary schools and Immanuel Lutheran School.

“It’s an honor. It just means so much,” Elmore said. “I’m a gymnastics coach, so going back to the elementary schools, I saw a bunch of the kids I currently coach and have coached before, and just seeing their faces and being able to ask questions and being an important role model in their life being successful, I feel like it pushes them in a positive direction.”

Penrose also liked talking about the distinction she had earned.

“It meant a lot because we would spread our influence and our information to the younger generation that probably I would have wanted to know whenever I was younger,” she said.

Ramp, the salutatorian of the 360-member senior class, said the tour showed the students that hard work and making the grades are important.

“Because one day, no matter who they are or what background they come from, they can be just as successful as we can,” she said.

Considering the nine seniors had made a lot of sacrifices over the years to be able to finish as a Seymour Scholar, Holtman said it was great getting to share that with the young kids.

“It was nice to try to relate to the kids and try to picture where we were in fifth grade or fourth grade,” he said. “I was thinking, ‘What would I tell myself back then and what am I glad that I started doing back then that really has helped me get to where I am now?’”

Penrose, Ramp and Holtman all attended Redding growing up.

A highlight for Penrose and Holtman was seeing one of their teachers, Kylene Steward.

“It was heartwarming to see her again,” Penrose said.

“It was pretty surreal just realizing how long ago that was and how far we’ve come from being in fifth grade or fourth grade and realize all of the progress we’ve made since then,” Holtman said.

While Ramp didn’t see any of her former teachers, she said it was a great visit.

“I kind of forgot what the school looked like, so it was interesting to be back in there and see everything again,” she said.

Elmore and Cummings both attended Emerson when they were younger.

Elmore saw her first grade teacher, Betsy Bryant.

“Just seeing the whole school again brought back memories,” she said. “I really want to go back to elementary school because it was just so much fun. And the school changed a lot, so it was really cool to see the upgrades through the school.”

Cummings, who is the valedictorian of the senior class, was surprised to be presented a picture of herself from when she was in Jennie Chase’s class in second grade.

“That was amazing because these days, a lot of times, teachers will change what grade they teach or their room,” Cummings said. “It was the same room as when I was there, and she was teaching the same grade, and I recognized some of the decorations. It was just really cool to be back there, and I could think about what I had been learning in her class.”

Seeing the rest of the school was memorable, too.

“When I was walking through the halls, the memories were just flooding back to me,” Cummings said. “I could see myself in the hallways as a kindergartner through being there through fifth grade, and it was just really amazing to be able to experience that and see all of the changes that they made, but also, it still felt like it did when I was there.”

Allman described returning to her former school, Immanuel, as nostalgic.

“I was in there for my entire elementary school career and all of middle school, and it hadn’t changed a bit,” she said, smiling.

Returning to her former school, Jackson, and also being at Brown, Garcia said she saw a lot of Latino students and had positive interactions with them.

“I really like that they found somebody to relate to,” she said. “As the Latino community is growing in Seymour, I feel like it’s important to have a positive student to be a positive influence to those kids. Hopefully, they would see that they could also do that, too, no matter their background.”

At Brown, Elmore said the group had a neat experience as they walked by students eating lunch in the cafeteria.

“Their faces just lit up, and they stood up and started clapping for us,” she said. “It was just so cool. It made my heart really warm. It gave us all goosebumps. We were all so excited and couldn’t believe this was happening.”

At one school, Holtman said kindergartners asked him about his favorite color, word and restaurant. His replies? Blue, palindrome and Papa John’s.

“It was kind of funny just to put ourselves in the kindergarten situation,” he said. “It was just funny to be asked those questions.”

Cummings said at every school, the kids were eager to ask questions.

“They didn’t want to sit there and shy away from us,” she said. “They wanted to have their questions answered, so there was very little time that nobody was talking because it was just a big back and forth.”

The time at Immanuel was special for Allman because her sister was in one of the classrooms.

“One of the main points that I wanted to get across was yes, grades are very important. Obviously, to get here, that’s what we had to have. But I wanted to make sure the kids knew that they shouldn’t let that letter on their report card define them and that it’s really important for you to make the most out of what you get in the classroom,” she said.

“Sometimes, your grade may not reflect that on every test, and it’s important to just focus on getting the most out of every subject,” Allman said.

The Seymour Scholars agree it took a lot to earn the award, and they were glad to have an opportunity to share that with the students.

“I felt like I did a lot during my high school career, and the fact that I finally got some merit and reward from it felt amazing,” Penrose said.

“It means everything because in school, since I was little, I just knew that if I wanted to be successful, I had to make the grades, and it’s a lot of stress going through high school having to manage a job, homework, stuff like that,” Elmore said. “Just having it pay off in the end just means the world.”

Ramp agreed.

“It’s rewarding to have a separate distinction for the classes we took and the grades we made because it is hard,” she said. “You have to have a pretty high GPA and take some difficult classes, so it’s definitely rewarding.”

Allman said there were some changes with an AP class during their junior year, so they had to adjust and pass an exam.

“You had to work really hard this year and make sure that you’re going to be able to pass the exam so that you didn’t take this class for no reason,” she said. “It’s definitely rewarding to know that I achieved my goal of being a Seymour Scholar.”

Going from being born in Mexico and not knowing English in her early elementary years to now being a Seymour Scholar, Garcia considers it a great accomplishment.

“It’s very rewarding, and I just feel really proud of myself,” she said.

For Cummings, being a Seymour Scholar and valedictorian is a great way to end her high school career.

“It means a lot to me,” she said. “It was something that my family had always pushed me to do my best, and I’m just glad that I can do that for them to make them feel proud of me, too.”

Wagner said the Seymour Scholars tour is her favorite day of the school year.

“To watch them walk in in full regalia — their robes, their medals, their stoles, they’ve got the hat on — it’s a very impressive and awe-inspiring sight,” she said.

“I am just so proud of them,” she said. “The level of rigor expected of our scholars is tremendous, and the support they get at home, the support they get in their school and from their teachers and from administration, I’m proud, I’m impressed and I am awed by their commitment.”

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The 2019 Seymour Scholars shared their postsecondary plans.

Tess Allman: Attend Indiana University-Purdue University to study chemistry and move on to dental school

Jessica Blevins: Attend Indiana University Kelley School of Business to study accounting

Delaney Cummings: Attend Purdue University to study biology and pursue a career in the medical field

Nicole Elmore: Attend Indiana State University to study nursing

Natalia Garcia: Attend Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis to study energy engineering

Brandon Holtman: Attend Purdue University to study exploratory studies

Elizabeth Lenart: Attend Purdue University to study exploratory studies

Baleigh Penrose: Take online courses to earn a bachelor’s degree in computer science

Emma Ramp: Attend Indiana University to study biology premed


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