Four juniors recently were named Indiana Rising Stars, recognizing them as the top in their class academically, Mercedes Benjamin, Maddie Beyl, Dallas Bonnet, and Zach Van Wie. This non-competitive recognition program sponsored by the Indiana Association of School Principals honors high school juniors for their academic achievement in order to increase their visibility and scholarship opportunities.
Mercedes is a member of House of Humility, Book Club, Drawing Club, Providence Singers, and theater. Her favorite school subject is math “because I excel at it, and I enjoy learning the basic principles for most everything around us,” she said.
Being named a Rising Star is a validation of her efforts and motivation to continue working on her long-time goal of becoming valedictorian of her class, Mercedes said. Keeping this goal in mind has helped her stay focused during virtual learning.
Dallas is the junior executive delegate for the House of Truth, a Student Ambassador, on the Girls Tennis team, and a member of Quick Recall and Book Club. Outside of school, she rides horses and competes in horse shows. She loves to read and write, which makes English her favorite school subject, especially “looking at different writing styles and seeing themes play out across story lines,” she said.
Dallas said she is grateful to be named a Rising Star because it’s a recognition of her hard work. Her goal is to travel the world, and working hard in school is one step to achieving her dreams, she said.
Zach is a member of the House of Humility, Quick Recall, Math Team, and eSports Team. Like Mercedes, math is his favorite subject “because there is always a definitive answer with no room for error,” he said. He is encouraged to continue working hard by being named a Rising Star.
Zach kept up his efforts during virtual learning by “participating in class and giving my full attention to the teachers. Although virtual learning has been hard, it has pushed me to find different ways to learn and succeed,” he said. He has been motivated primarily by his goal of becoming valedictorian.
“I am a competitive person and being valedictorian would be like winning a championship,” “School for me is almost like a sport, where I compete against myself and my friends.”
Maddie is a member of the House of Justice and loves math because “there is a solidarity and sureness that comes with working with numbers that make finding answers rewarding. In addition, there is so much you can do with math, and the calculations that can be made are intriguing and interesting to me.”
Succeeding in high school is way to ensure her future, she said, keeping her motivated when she is tempted to slack off – or go back to bed during virtual learning. She stayed focused by keeping to a schedule and getting dressed as if class was in person. She also balances making the most of her time, such as starting her homework when instruction ends before the block does – and during virtual learning giving herself a break from screen time and getting exercise. Being named a Rising Star is an acknowledgement of all her efforts.
“It’s so rewarding to be acknowledged for the hard work and stress that come with succeeding in difficult classes,” Maddie said. “It makes it all worthwhile.”
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