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61 students graduate in Gatton Academy Class of 2015

On Saturday (May 16), 61 students representing 37 counties from across Kentucky were recognized during The Gatton Academy’s eighth graduation ceremony in Van Meter Hall.

Speaker Pro Tem Jody Richards delivered commencement remarks for The Gatton Academy graduation on May 16. (WKU photo by Bob Skipper)

Speaker Pro Tem Jody Richards delivered commencement remarks for The Gatton Academy graduation on May 16. (WKU photo by Bob Skipper)

Gatton Academy Executive Director Dr. Julia Roberts expressed that the graduation ceremony was a celebration for the entire Commonwealth.

“The Gatton Academy provides an exceptional two-year experience for some of Kentucky’s most capable high school students with STEM interests, and it serves as a beacon of excellence for schools throughout the Commonwealth,” Roberts said. “We congratulate our 2015 Gatton Academy graduates.”

Gatton Academy Director Dr. Lynette Breedlove shared her praise for the graduating seniors and her gratitude for the WKU faculty and staff members in making The Gatton Academy both a rewarding and challenging educational experience for Kentucky.

“Our graduates are well prepared for the infinite possibilities that lay ahead of them,” Breedlove said. “This is due in part to their hard work and their taking advantage of all that is offered to them in our school. It is also due to the hard work and support of the WKU faculty, staff, and administration who open their expertise, classroom, offices, labs, research projects, and hearts to our students.”

Eleven members of the class were selected as National Merit finalists, four seniors earned National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) scholarships, and five students were recognized as semifinalists in the Siemens competition. Ninety percent of the class participated in faculty-sponsored research during their time at the Academy, and eight graduates completed the school’s STEM + Critical Languages curriculum in either Arabic or Chinese; 92 percent of the senior class studied abroad while at The Gatton Academy; and 74 percent of the graduating class completed 60 or more hours of service during their two years at The Gatton Academy. As a class, they completed 3,985 service hours.

Julia Gensheimer, a graduating senior from Bowling Green, thanked The Academy for her experiences during her two years.

“Sure we are the number one public high school in the United States, but not because we try to be,” Gensheimer said. “It isn’t standardized test scores or GPAs that make Gatton what it is. It is our community.”

Speaker Pro Tem Jody Richards delivered the commencement address. Richards has been an advocate for both gifted education and The Gatton Academy since before the school’s inception.

“If you would have told me in the late 1970’s what The Gatton Academy has become, I would have said it’s a dream, because it would be too good to be true,” Richards said. “When each of you has success, Kentucky has success. Remember that the Commonwealth of Kentucky is behind each of you.”

Andrew Browna graduating senior from Central City, reminded his fellow graduates that their memories of The Academy will go far past today. “We will carry The Academy on our resumes forever, but our academy will always be found in our hearts,” he said.

In the fall of 2015, students from the graduating class will attend 30 colleges and universities across the United States: Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Duke University, Emory University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northeastern University, Princeton University, Reed College, Rice University, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Stanford University, The University of Alabama in Huntsville, Thomas More College, Tulane University, Union College, University of Chicago, University of Colorado Boulder, University of Kentucky, University of Louisville, University of Notre Dame, University of Pennsylvania, University of Rochester, University of Southern California, University of Tennessee Knoxville, Vanderbilt University, Washington University in St. Louis, Western Kentucky University and Western Washington University. Four-year scholarships totaling more than $15.6 million were offered to the graduating class with approximately $4 million in scholarships accepted.

Scenes from The Gatton Academy Class of 2015 graduation

Members of The Gatton Academy Class of 2015

  • Allen County: Jackeline Orozco Cruz
  • Ballard County: Katherine Allen
  • Barren County: Kelly Lynch, a graduate with distinction
  • Boone CountyAnna Braun, a graduate with distinction; Allyson King, a graduate with distinction; Rena Ryumae, a graduate with distinction
  • Breathitt CountySarah Yount
  • Breckinridge CountyJames Meeks, a graduate with distinction
  • Calloway County: Phoebe Zimmerer
  • Carlisle County: Jenna Willett
  • Carter County: Dana Biechele-Speziale, a graduate with distinction
  • Christian County: Lydia Buzzard, a graduate with distinction; Vir Patel, a graduate with distinction
  • Clark County: Shelbi Broeking, a graduate with honors
  • Daviess County: Meredith Bickett, a graduate with distinction; Samuel Booth, a graduate with distinction; Peter Kaminski, a graduate with distinction; Melissa Murphy, a graduate with honors
  • Fayette County: Taha Husain; Dimitri Leggas, a graduate with distinction; John Meyers III; William Walters, a graduate with distinction
  • Hardin County: Justin Bunch, a graduate with honors
  • Henderson County: India Blasser, a graduate with honors; Anna Mayo
  • Hickman County: Paige Kington; Erika Stairs
  • Hopkins County: Joshua Stewart, a graduate with distinction
  • Jackson County: Kathryn Price, a graduate with honors
  • Jefferson County: Cam Hubbard; Benjamin Riley, a graduate with distinction
  • Knox County: Mollie Pope
  • Laurel County: NaKeya Owens
  • Lee County: Michael Evans
  • Lincoln County: Brian Carlson
  • Marshall County: Paul Hudson
  • Mason County: Courtney George, a graduate with honors
  • McCracken County: Erin Burba, a graduate with distinction; Sarah Herricks, a graduate with honors
  • Muhlenberg County: Andrew Brown, a graduate with distinction; Ian Canedo-Muzevic, a graduate with distinction
  • Nelson County: Christian Simms, a graduate with distinction
  • Oldham County: Logan Houchens, a graduate with honors; Bradford Hull; Kelly McKenna, a graduate with distinction; Lindsay Walton, a graduate with honors
  • Pike County: Michael Blankenship, a graduate with distinction
  • Rowan County: Morgan Blair, a graduate with honors
  • Shelby County: Abigail Boone
  • Simpson County: Kain Kotoucek; Joshua Sutton
  • Spencer County: Noah Williamson
  • Warren County: Julia Gensheimer, a graduate with distinction; Benjamin Guthrie, a graduate with distinction; Elizaveta Khenner, a graduate with distinction; Valerie Richmond, a graduate with distinction; Saralinda Schell, a graduate with honors; Ananya Sharma, a graduate with distinction; Jack Wassom, a graduate with distinction
  • Washington County: Rachel Cook, a graduate with distinction
  • Woodford County: Melissa Anderson, a graduate with honors

About The Gatton Academy: Established in 2007, The Gatton Academy is Kentucky’s first residential high school for gifted and talented junior and seniors. The Gatton Academy’s students enroll as juniors and are full-time WKU students pursuing their interests in advanced science, technology, engineering and mathematical careers. The Gatton Academy has been named the number one public high school in the United States by The Daily Beast for three consecutive years – 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Contact: Zack Ryle, (270) 745-2971.

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