2016 All Stars

The 2016 Academic All-Stars, from left, Camryn Clift, Caldwell County, Foreign Language; Alyssa Taylor, Trigg County, Career and Technical; Jonathan Kinnard, UHA, Mathematics; Emily Pena, Fort Campbell, Arts; Hannah Reed, Todd County, Journalism; RaAnna Tucker, UHA, English; Caroline Heltsley, Hopkinsville, Social Studies/Economics; Sherafghan Khan, UHA, Science, 2016 MVP.

Failure was the message at the 15th annual Regional Academic All-Star awards and recognition ceremony. It was an ironic speech to deliver to over 100 middle and high school academic achievers, but guest speaker Dr. James Calleroz White was well aware.

Head of school at Louisville Collegiate and a Hopkinsville native, White said failure is a powerful tool if you think about it the right way.

“Think about the resilience it gives you …,” he said. “Fall down and get back up because you’re going to do that over and over and over again ... with failure comes growth.”

White, a Harvard graduate, shared some of his own stories of failure: A funny one about his epic fail at trying to dunk in an eighth-grade basketball game at Christian County Middle School, and another about getting a C-plus in French class at the Ivy League school.

After White’s thought-provoking and humorous address, students were recognized in the disciplines of English, math, science, social studies/economics, arts, career and technical, journalism and foreign language.

Students from Christian, Caldwell, Todd and Trigg counties as well as Fort Campbell were judged on their academic achievements, extracurricular activities, leadership roles, a personal essay and recommendation letters.

Dr. Alissa Young, chief judge of Academic All-Stars, told the students it was a tough process for the eight judges selecting the winners and runners-up for each discipline. She emphasized how “outstanding” each student is and extended her appreciation to the judges.

Ten students from each area middle school were recognized in four of the disciplines, and each student received a medallion and a certificate.

Eight students from each area high school were recognized in all eight disciplines. Each student received a $100 scholarship along with an engraved challenge coin and a certificate. A runner-up in each category received a $250 scholarship and $100 gift card. The winner in each discipline received $2,000 scholarship and a leather portfolio and certificate.

A new overall achievement award was announced this year for the Most Valuable Scholar, and the winner, Sherafghan Khan, received an additional $2,000 scholarship sponsored by Fortera Credit Union.

Khan, a 17-year-old senior at University Heights and Gatton Academy, also won in the high school science category. He said it felt amazing to hear his name.

“It felt good that all that hard work that I put in and all the effort that all my teachers have put into me paid off tonight,” he said.

Khan also said he could relate to White’s message about failure.

“I’ve definitely had a lot of failures in my life, but I’ve learned from them,” said the Hopkinsville teen. “I know I’m going to have failures in my future too, but hopefully, they’ll lead to successes.”

When he graduates, Khan plans to major in neuroscience and chemistry, noting that his current chemistry class at Western Kentucky University inspired him to take that path. He hopes to get his PhD as a medical doctor, and specifically wants to become a neurosurgeon and researcher.

“I really love research,” he said.

Kentucky New Era CEO and publisher Taylor Hayes said over $28,000 worth of scholarships were awarded Tuesday night, and he thanked the plethora of sponsors for their contributions.

“Today’s economic excellence cannot be sustained without education,” he said. “The support from the schools and sponsors over the past 15 years has been nothing short of miraculous.”

Reach Zirconia Alleyne at 270-887-3243 or zalleyne@kentuckynewera.com.

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