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Seniors Recognized for Academic Excellence
May 15th, 2015
Written by Golden Lines Staff Writer: Katherine Klinger ‘16
They spent long, tiring nights studying. Their weekends were filled with extra work most people would not do. They went above and beyond the typical responsibilities of a student.A total of six members of the class of 2015 have been honored with some of the most prestigious titles that both the school and nation offer for their exceptional work ethic and success.
The National Merit Scholarship program recognizes excellence in academics and PSAT scores through the reward of scholarships. This past year, over 1.5 million juniors entered the competition, and those who made it into the top five percent were commended.
Seniors Connor Huddleston, Nina Patronis, Carter Grabbe, Andrew Jacon, Joe Kilpatrick, and Caroline Porter were among the St. Pius students chosen for this honor.
Huddleston was also named Valedictorian and STAR Student for his achievement of earning the highest grade point average in his class as well as the highest SAT scores. After hearing about the honor of Valedictorian as a freshman, he made it his goal to finish with the top GPA in his class of 308 people.
“I remember someone explaining to me that the best student in the class gets the honor and thinking ‘I want to be that,’” Huddleston said. He used this to motivate him through his entire high school career.
Even though he knew this is what he wanted, Huddleston still struggled to stay focused just like every other student.
“It's really difficult to work hard for four years keeping the end goal in mind,” he explained. “I constantly had to remind myself how much I wanted the award when I was tempted to slack off or not try my absolute hardest.”
Being named STAR Student, on the other hand, was a much bigger surprise for Huddleston. “I wasn't actually expecting it until the day Mr. Griffith told me that I had gotten it,” he said.
The STAR Student award is given to the student with the highest SAT scores in the class. For Huddleston, the SAT seemed to come naturally to him. He only tested twice and never took any prep classes.
The responsibility of choosing the STAR Teacher falls on the STAR Student. Huddleston chose math teacher Ms. Lesley Bowman because he felt she helped him the most in achieving his high SAT score. He recognizes her brilliance not only as a teacher but as a person as well.
“Beyond being a teacher, she has a real connection with her students. She understands both their hopes and their fears, and tries to be accessible and helpful in any way that she can be in order to see them succeed,” Huddleston explained.
Ms. Bowman helps her students prepare for the SAT in many ways. After tests or quizzes, she has her class work on practice questions that are not necessarily on the subject of what they’re learning.
Ms. Bowman also believes in changing the way her students think about math. She said, “Obviously you have the goal of teaching the course you’re teaching. The overriding goal is to teach people how to reason [and] how to think.”
Like Huddleston, Patronis also had a strong desire to graduate with the top GPA from early on in her freshman year.
“It was definitely a goal from the beginning, but only because other people challenged me by saying they would get it instead,” said Patronis. This became an exciting endeavor for her because of her love of learning.
Patronis remained stay motivated, but the hardest challenge for her was the work-load. Along with her multiple extracurricular activities, she also took five AP classes her junior year. She explained, “Average sleep time was about four and a half hours, give or take 30 [minutes].”
Although it may seem hard to stay motivated, Patronis had a key suggestion to staying focused in school that she used all four years as well. She recommended, “Take classes that you think are interesting, so you're actually motivated to do well and enjoy it.”
After four years of working hard and to the best of their abilities, Huddleston and Patronis are officially recognized as being the top scholars in the highly talented Class of 2015.