Nearly half of the county's group of rising seniors, who were recently accepted into the prestigious Governor's Scholars Program (GSP), are from Model Laboratory School.
It is something that even school officials found unusual.
"We knew the strength of the applications, and anticipated a good outcome. But to receive a 100 percent acceptance rate was shocking," explained Laura Dedic, director of secondary schools for Model, which enrolls 227 students in grades 9-12. "The administration is very proud of their [the student's] hard work and accomplishments."
Dedic said the school received an overwhelming number of applications from juniors interested in GSP this school year.
"Our junior class this year consisted of about 55 students and we received a total of 20 applications," she said. "That is quite a lot for a class that size and the application process is quite lengthly and the requirements very strict."
Out of the 20 applications, Dedic said eight stood out to the panel of five educators who blind-scored the juniors' applications. She said the competition was fierce and the applications were virtually flawless.
"We were very fortunate to move the eight forward to the state scoring level," Dedic said. "It is very rare and probably would not have happened without the work of high school guidance counselor Kelly Caldwell."
Dedic said Caldwell, after reviewing the eight applications, contacted GSP to see if Model could send more than a handful of applications to compete at the state level.
"To my knowledge, schools aren't able to send that many forward, but she felt so strongly in the strength of the applications she took it upon herself to ask if we could send more," she said.
The director of secondary schools said Model had five students attend GSP last year. She said that all eight were accepted shows how strong the students were.
“These students spent many hours developing their applications," Dedic said. "Academic achievement is one component, and each year the application process becomes more competitive. Service learning is a requirement at Model, and that is a major component of the GSP application."
The juniors accepted into GSP are: Uma Aikat, Sophie Austin, Josh Collier, Laura Cole, Jarett Insko, Patrick Nnoromele, Avanti Patel and Sophie Gershtenson. Gershtenson (architecture and design) and Collier (film and photography) were also accepted into the Governor’s School for the Arts (GSA), and must decide between the two programs. Nathan Richey, a sophomore, was also accepted into the Governor’s School for the Arts for instrumental music, but will instead attend the nationally prestigious Brevard Music Center Summer Institute in North Carolina.
The GSP accepted 1,060 students, while only 256 were selected for the GSA.
“It’s a rarity that students are accepted into both these prestigious programs,” said Dedic.
Dedic said all the accepted students “were able to balance a high number of activities and community service while maintaining high academic standing. It demonstrates the integrity of the student, commitment to the quality of work they produce, the high level of achievements, and is an exemplar of educational experience at Model Laboratory School.”
Dedic said the school is very proud of its students and the humble nature in which they accept their rewards for hard work.
Juniors accepted into GSP from Madison Southern High School are: Carlee Cash, Angelo Ou and Carter Smith.
Southern guidance counselor Misty Murphy said the students accepted into the program this year are outstanding academically and well-rounded.
"The application is very rigorous and competitive and it is almost as competitive as applying for some universities," Murphy said. "What makes these students stand out is that the judges just don't concentrate on the student's academics. They look at the student as a whole. They analyze their extracurricular work — their involvement in athletics, service learning, volunteer work, leadership in clubs and awards."
Murphy said the Southern students accepted into GSP will be given a wonderful opportunity that will help them in the future.
"They get to spend real time on a college campus and take college coursework. They get valuable time and experience and it will help them transition to college. The GSP sets them up for the future," Murphy said. "We are very proud of them and it is a great accomplishment."
Juniors accepted into GSP from Madison Central High School are: Alarah Gillum, Tyler Hall, Kyle McGlothlin, Julia Rahimzadeh and Susan Rahimzadeh.
Central guidance counselor Amy Palmer said despite receiving less applications for GSP from juniors, five students were still accepted.
"They are fabulous students," Palmer said of the group. "Their characters are phenomenal. The application is a ton of work and we are so proud that our school will be represented well once again at GSP."
Central also had two students accepted into the GSA program — Alex Cowen for musical theatre and Ellen Lee for instrumental music.
Juniors accepted into GSP from Berea Community High School are: Elliot Sandberg, Hannah Wallhausser and Shyann Brock.
Berea Independent Superintendent Mike Hogg said the school also had two juniors selected as alternates to the program.
"It's an honor for our kids to be selected to participate in the program," Hogg said. "We've been represented at GSP for numerous years and it is a fantastic program for those students who wish to explore colleges."
Hogg said, due to the size of Berea Community, only a certain number can be sent to GSP. However, the superintendent said the school works with juniors and seniors to find other programs like GSP the students can participate in.
"There are so many kids that can submit applications to GSP [at our school] and are just a few points shy here or there. We try to steer those students who are also strong academically to other summer programs. We try to guide those kids to a lot of different directions based on their specific goals and skills," Hogg explained.
The Governor's Scholars Program is a prestigious five-week summer program that is limited to approximately 1,000 of the state's most outstanding students. Established in 1983, the program was created as a result of Kentucky leader's concern that the states' "best and brightest" were leaving the state to pursue educational and career opportunities elsewhere without fully understanding the potential of their talents at home. Each year, rising seniors spend several weeks on one of three Kentucky college campuses where they can attend college classes of their interest and stay in campus housing.
Reach Ricki Barker at 624-6611; follow her on Twitter @RickiBReports.