Seven Seymour High School students have earned the title of Seymour Scholars for 2020.
This year’s scholars are McKenzie Bailey, Aiden Goen, Maggie Newkirk, Rhea Patel, Kate Snook, Makenna Sunbury and Laken Waskom.
They will be recognized during Seymour’s graduation ceremony at 2:30 p.m. May 31 in the student parking lot. The ceremony will be broadcast on radio 92.7 FM NASH ICON.
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The Seymour Scholar Award is presented to students who complete at least 54 credits in their high school career with 36 being in core academic classes of English, mathematics, science, foreign language and social studies.
Candidates must have a weighted grade point average of 4.9, earn at least 10 credits in Advanced Placement courses with no grade lower than a B and satisfy all requirements
for the Indiana Academic Honors Diploma.
The award was first presented in 2000 as part of the school’s efforts to encourage students to pursue strong academic programs in preparation for college, said Principal Greg Prange.
“I am very proud of this year’s scholars. Not only are they very strong students in the classroom, they are true leaders,” Prange said. “Among them are outstanding competitors, musicians, volunteers and team players. They have great potential for becoming significant leaders in society, and I am confident they will make a positive impact wherever they work and live.”
Bailey said she has worked toward becoming a Seymour Scholar since her freshman year.
“School has always been very important to me, and I enjoy challenging myself academically,” she said.
The goal didn’t become difficult, though, until her junior year.
“It was hard to keep the necessary GPA while taking multiple advanced and AP classes at one time,” she said.
After she received her first graded calculus test her senior year, Bailey thought about giving up but knew she had made it too far to throw in the towel.
“I couldn’t let one math class ruin all the work I had put into school for the past three years,” she said.
Although her senior year wasn’t what she expected thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and eLearning, Bailey said her teachers quickly adjusted to the schedule.
“eLearning was a learning experience for me and all of my teachers,” she said. “The biggest challenge was preparing for online AP testing.”
Although all of her teachers have contributed to her academics, she said two have had the biggest impact.
“I would like to thank Mrs. Ann Tormoehlen for getting me through calculus and Mrs. Dawn Jones for helping me grow as a person,” she said.
She will be attending Butler University this fall to major in marketing and says she will miss her fellow students and the staff at SHS.
Goen never really thought about becoming a Seymour Scholar, but once he got to high school, he decided he was up for the challenge.
This year was the most difficult because he was taking the most advanced classes the school has to offer, he said.
AP English proved to be the biggest challenge for Goen.
“I have always been a more math-oriented person,” he said.
But his personal motivation and the thought he would be part of only a select few students to be named a Seymour Scholar kept him going. That along with support from his friends and family.
“My parents constantly helped and encouraged me, and my friends were always working with me on projects and homework and helped me with things I didn’t understand at first,” he said.
Goen will miss his classmates and teachers and especially the memories he made at SHS.
“Most of us will go our separate ways and may never see each other again, which is sad to think about,” he said.
He will be attending Purdue University in the fall to study actuarial science.
Newkirk already had been taking honors courses throughout high school, so at the beginning of her junior year, she set the goal of becoming a Seymour Scholar.
“I decided to work toward this accomplishment because I wanted to gain the most out of my four years of education at SHS,” she said.
And she wanted to be prepared for college.
“I feel that the academic track for becoming a Seymour Scholar prepares you well,” she said.
The heavy course load was challenging, she said, especially when also managing extracurriculuar activities and working part time.
Newkirk said eLearning was not a problem for her because the majority of advanced coursework is online already, she said.
“I think the main challenge with school being canceled for seniors was missing a lot of events that we had looked forward to for years,” she said.
Newkirk credits her leadership and success in school to her FFA adviser, Jeanna Eppley.
“She has led me to become the leader and person I am today,” she said. “She has always encouraged me in both school and FFA.”
Newkirk will be attending the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University in Bloomington in the fall and plans to double major in marketing and sales with a minor in entrepreneurship.
“The thing I will miss most about high school is being able to spend time with my friends every day and participating in all of the events that created lifelong memories,” she said.
It wasn’t until it was time to schedule her senior year that Patel learned about the Seymour Scholars recognition.
Although it was late in the game, she realized she already was on the way to meeting the requirements.
“I came to the conclusion that putting in the extra work was worth it,” she said. “I knew that I was capable of becoming a Seymour Scholar.”
So it became one of her major goals of her senior year.
“It was quite difficult at some times, and at others, it felt like a breeze,” she said. “On the days that were difficult and I wanted to give up, words of encouragement from my family kept me motivated.”
She also received support from her teachers, who pushed her to excel and achieve her goals.
“The encouragement from my teachers helped me get to this point,” she said.
Patel will be attending the Purdue School of Science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis in the fall to major in biology. She said she hopes to pursue a career in the medical field.
Sunbury said being a Seymour Scholar is a goal she set for herself early on.
“I always challenge myself to be the best I can be, whether that applies to my academics or any other aspect of my life,” she said.
And it was that goal that motivated her throughout high school when she didn’t feel like studying for a big exam or getting started on a class project.
“I can recall late-night study sessions where I debated going to sleep or staying up to study,” she said. “In those moments, I would tell myself the reward for all of my hard work will feel better than taking it easy by simply giving up.”
Having to finish up her senior year by eLearning was tough, she said, because she wanted to be at school.
“Learning in the classroom is much more effective than in front of a screen,” she said. “I miss seeing my friends and teachers on a daily basis. Video calls and emails do not replace the connection of interacting face to face with someone.”
Sunbury will be attending IUPUI in the fall as an Honors Scholar and plans to major in neuroscience with the hopes of continuing her education in medical school. She also plans to run on the school’s cross country and track and field teams.
She thanks her parents for being her biggest supporters and always encouraging her to achieve whatever she sets out to do.
Having always been academically driven, Waskom said becoming a Seymour Scholar was always her goal. But it wasn’t always easy, she added.
“I took a lot of Advanced Placement courses throughout high school, so my overall workload was anything but light,” she said.
There were many late nights spent studying and doing homework, but Waskom never considered giving up.
“I believed my hard work would pay off, which is what kept me going,” she said.
She credits her teachers and parents for their support throughout the years.
“All of my teachers have contributed to my academic journey, so I would like to thank each and every one of them for investing in me,” she said. “I would also like to thank my parents for believing in me every step of the way.”
She will be attending Purdue University in the fall to study actuarial science and statistics.
Note: Senior Katherine Snook did not respond to emailed questions.