MOUNT VERNON — The Mount Vernon City Schools board of education took a moment before their monthly board meeting Monday evening to congratulate and celebrate the academic accomplishments of five very successful students. The students were recognized for their achievement in the 2019 National Merit Scholarship Program.
“This is a pretty special night, where we get to recognize some outstanding student accomplishments,” Superintendent Bill Seder said. “The National Merit Scholarship Program is a very, very prestigious scholarship program, one which is so difficult to achieve.”
He explained that 1.5 million students from 22,000 high schools across the United States participate in the preliminary scholarship aptitude test, or PSAT, test.
“They take only the top one percent and they recognize that one percent,” he said. “How many is that? It’s 50,000 students out of the 1.5 million who achieve this level of recognition.”
Only 16,000 of those students qualify as semifinalists, Seder explained.
“That really makes you the elite of the elite,” he said. “Parents you ought to be incredibly proud, and I know you are.”
Seder offered official proclamations from the board of education for the achievement categories, with Herbie Meyer achieving semifinalist status and Victoria Baker, Charles Mayville, Josephine Noonan and Mehmet Schubel as the four commended students. Schubel was unable to attend the ceremony.
The students, in turn, recognized the family members they brought with them to the ceremony, as well as the educators that have made a difference in their lives and presented them each a rose, provided by the board.
Meyer thanked each of his family members, highlighting the fact that his parents have fostered him in a “really great learning environment,” and thanked them for all of the learning opportunities they have provided for him.
“I’ve had really great opportunities here,” Meyer said to the board. “Naturally, I wouldn’t go to this school district, but I go here for all of the opportunities, the AP classes provided, the great teachers, I’m taking classes at the Naz this year, they’re all really great opportunities, so I want to thank you all for those.”
Meyer thanked English teacher Christine Keaton for her impact on his education. He thanked her for pushing him as a sixth grade student as he was “unruly back then,” and again, when he had her for Honors English during his freshman year.
“There were multiple times when I definitely pushed some boundaries of where I could go as far as humor, maybe it was more like disruption,” Meyer said. “But I learned a lot from that and I’ve come a long way since then. I’ve certainly become a great student, because of all of my teachers.”
Meyer also thanked Keaton for pushing him to become a better all-around person, shifting his single-minded focus on academics to community engagement, as Keaton serves as an advisor for Key Club.
“I’ve learned a lot this year, academically, and with the Key Club events, it’s helped me as a person and to just learn more,” Meyer said. “She’s given me the opportunities to recognize more of myself and to become more of who I am.”
Keaton, in turn, presented Meyer with a marker attached to a string, that she used to mark on the board when her sixth-grade students, including Meyer, were bad. The marker was affixed with an acronym, KAKROT, which stood for kids against Keaton’s reign of terror.
The three present commended students, Baker, Mayville and Noonan, also recognized the family members that they brought with them to the ceremony.
“I would like to recognize my parents, who have both supported me a lot in my whole life, especially with my academic achievements. My mom has done a lot to always encourage me and make sure I am working hard,” Baker said.
She also thanked Science teacher Kristin Hofferberth, whom she honored with an orchid in addition to the provided rose, for being kind and helpful for the two years of classes Baker took with her, and for always helping her to be enthusiastic and energetic when it came to Science.
Noonan explained that simple things, like her parents reading to her before bed, set the foundation for life-long successful learning.
She also thanked Hofferberth for her educational encouragement.
“In classes, even if we were being really pessimistic, you were always encouraging and saying like, ‘yes you can do this, it will be easy someday.’ So thank you so much for that,” Noonan said.
Mayville thanked his parents for encouraging him as he “wasn’t always the most motivated person,” he said, as the “forced study hours” paid off for him.
He thanked Latin teacher Mary Behrensmeyer as an institution at MVHS.
“The first time I was in Mrs. Behrensmeyer’s class, she scared the living daylights out of me,” Mayville said. “She has a speech she gives to all of her first time students on their first day of class of all of the things they can’t do, and that takes up the whole class. But through the years I’ve learned to love Mrs. B and the way that she taught. She really makes learning fun, which is something that isn’t always connected together. She really expanded my horizons and made school worthwhile.”