Education

Top HCPS Scholar Grads Honored at Banquets

North Henderson Knight Top Scholars are on the porch of the Barn at Tall Oaks Farm.

HendersonvilleHenderson County public high schools honored top Graduates at a banquet with medallions, certificates and encouraging words of wisdom.

“Rare air” is where these scholars are, HCPS Supt. Dr. John Bryant told the Tribune. “We are thrilled to recognize and celebrate some of our district’s highest-achieving (average GPA of 4.42) seniors for their successful endeavors in the classroom and beyond.”

Supt. Bryant said that in the pandemic, “We are so proud of their perseverance through one of the most challenging times in the history of public education.” Amidst mask-wearing and other new routines, Dr. Bryant reasons “flexibility and resilience will define our future success. Not only are these seniors at the top of their graduating classes. They’ve displayed extraordinary resilience, excellence in the arts and athletics, served as leaders in their respective schools and exhibited selfless commitment” in civic causes.

The 17th annual Top Scholars celebration of HCPS was planned according to pandemic capacity limits. In previous years, scholars from all schools were honored together in a banquet that their families and educators attended. This year, each high school went ahead with its own banquet last Thursday to limit numbers and contact. 

NHHS held theirs at The Barn at Tall Oaks, West was at French Broad Baptist Church, while East and HHS were on-campus. The county-wide program booklet had a bio on each scholar, including extracurriculars including with a total of nearly 100 civic groups.

Dr. Bryant hailed “their commitment in making their studies a priority. To be in the top tier is a career accomplishment. It starts in elementary school, with good habits.”

Top scholars averaged a 28 on the ACT and earned $2,046,300 total in scholarships and grants. The 67 scholars were 15 each from three schools, 16 at West, and three each from Early College and the Career Academy.

All banquets started at 6 pm and lasted over an hour, including a meal and speakers. Central administrators handed out medallions and certificates. School Board members, principals and school counselors attended.

Dot Case, a School Board member, is a retired longtime North Henderson teacher. Case colorfully customized her speech to each honored Knight’s career aspirations. She noted various professions one could enter with the student’s planned degree. For instance, a criminal justice grad can become an FBI agent. She expressed hope one scholar will “solve the economy,” and another Knight might “cure cancer.”

Scholars who spoke with the Tribune were eager to tackle career challenges. Both East valedictorian Aubrie Pressley and West’s Davis Little plan to be computer majors. Little is going to Clemson. He sees himself as a programmer designing games, developing software or refining computer operations. He will study cybersecurity and various aspects, to “see how it all comes together” and best fits him.

Beyond scholastics, Little said he developed communication and leadership skills at West. He was the Flying Falcon Marching Band’s trombone section leader, Wind Ensemble principal trombonist, twice made all-district in band, and was an N.C. Science Olympian.

East’s Pressley will major in computer science and play soccer at Lenoir-Rhyne. She captained the Lady Eagles soccer squad. She is interested in cybersecurity more than ever after reports of major hacks, including the recent one that shut down an oil pipeline and resulted in gasoline shortages here. 

East enthusiastically told the Tribune, “I want to fix technical problems to help keep U.S. citizens safe.”

She is grateful for the advanced courses she took at EHHS that also earned her Blue Ridge Community College credit. These “rigorous courses” helped her explore academic fields. Her message to younger students is that “education opens the door for opportunities in your future and provides career options.”

Jake Patterson is heading to UNC-Chapel Hill to get a business management degree. He was Hendersonville’s golf captain. As the manager of the successful varsity boys’ basketball team, he tracked player and team stats, organized them and then communicated with local media. “I gained some preparedness for success” in business, he said. He also led the Key Club and was Honor Society chapter V.P.

North Henderson is the first HCPS high school mixing in the Leader in Me curriculum. Student Body Co-Pres. Kimberly Holden, Jondash Karamavruc and Henry Odom are each student LEAD team reps.

NHHS principal Dr. John Shepard credited scholars’ families as a foundation for scholars’ academic success.

East principal Brandon Scott said, “We’re really proud of our top scholars. It’s such an impressive feat. Making the top 15 in a senior class represents so much dedication, perseverance and sacrifice.”

West principal Luke Manuel is “very proud of our graduates for their hard work, persistence, and especially their persevering through this past (pandemic) year” going from remote to in-class studies.

HHS principal Bobby Wilkins said, “They’ve stepped forward, and done a bit more than everyone else. This recognizes their extra effort.”

Shannon Auten, formerly West’s principal, is proud of her highest GPA achievers in Early College and Career Academy that she administers.

Principals sounded excited about getting to hold graduation ceremonies outside Friday — with no capacity restrictions, and no rain forecast. Friday morning, the high schools are staging awards assemblies indoors.

HCPS graduating Top Scholars of 2020-21 are:

Henderson County Career Academy:  

Haley Elis, Zachree Hawver, Harold Truempy.

Henderson County Early College:

Alyssa Godwin, Carlyn Shaw, Jose Vences.

East Henderson:

Cameron Bailey, Gabriel Black, Austin Bressler, Celia Gibbs, Emma Gilliam, Haley Hargus, Kalen King, Sara McCall, Journee McMinn, Annalee Metzger, Brandon Morgan, Stella Osteen, Aubrie Pressley, Joseph Sherer, Summer Vesper.

Hendersonville:

Daniela Ayala, Caitlyn Barnwell, Kimber Belk, Aubrey Bish, Cael Conroy, Zoe Durall, Clara Hockenberry, Patrick Jones, Nicholas Lester, Gracie Milner, Jake Patterson, Anna Salvaggio, Miriam Smith, Sophie Tanker, Lillian Ward.

North Henderson:

Abby Edwards, Keri Funderud, Jeremy Galsim, Avery Gould, Kimberly Holden, Emma Hubbard, Jacob Jenson, Jondash Karamavruc, Hannah Langford, John Marsh, Henry Odom, Adrian Ortiz, Jordan Reaves, Colin Suttles, Caleb Walker.

West Henderson:

Csenge Balazs, Miles Bryant, Anna Dorn, Haley Dunnigan, Jackson Futch, Madison Hall, Helene Johnston, Hannah King, Margaret-Ann Littauer, Davis Little, Caroline Maxon, Sarah Monoson, Claire Parker, Noah Trexler, Ada Weaver, Zoya Zalevskiy.

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