Each year at this time we reflect back on many accomplishments of the most recent graduating class of Brown County High School. We tend to compare accomplishments of some classes and we compare our students with those of nearby schools and with relatives, many of whom do not reside within our close geographic area. Some classes collectively have more achievements than others.
Each year we send a group of great young people out into the world with the hopes of achieving great things. They possess special talents and they have unlimited opportunities provided by our country, which is admittedly the wealthiest on our earth.
This year’s commencement speaker, Dr. Christopher Bartels, who now owns and operates a family dental practice on the west side of Columbus, spoke to our students about the chances they have for a new beginning as they advance into our society.
Dr. Bartels is one of those talented young people who received his public school education in Brown County, graduating in 2002 and going on to become a successful dentist, businessman and family man. He is one of those young people of whom we are very proud and who has used his opportunities wisely. His message to our class was to look ahead and make the most of those chances which each graduate has before him/her.
Our valedictorian, Corina Greiner, spoke to the class of 2016 about those opportunities also. She listed a remarkable set of academic accomplishments by fellow members of her class. These include: receipt of more than $300,000 in scholarships for more education (of which nearly $100,000 is coming from our own Brown County community); We the People state champions in 2012 as eighth-graders, at that time our second state championship in what is now a streak of six consecutive state titles; regional and state qualifiers for the National History Day competition; regional, state and international qualifiers for Intel’s Science and Engineering Fair; and numerous Academic Bowl champion and runner-up finishes over the past four years.
This year’s class also involves distinguished athletes. We anticipate that at least seven will continue to participate in interscholastic athletics in colleges next year. We had IHSAA sectional, regional and state qualifiers among this year’s class. We had multiple championships in the Western Indiana Conference as teams and individuals.
The graduates of the class of 2016 include individual thespians who finished at the top of Indiana in dramatic competition over their academic careers. Our band and choral students have won numerous gold ratings in ISMAA competitions over the past four years. Many of our C4 vocational students have been cited with individual achievement awards.
Beyond these recognitions, our students have connected with our community. They are involved in community service projects through several civic organizations including Key Club/Interact Club; Spanish, French and national honor societies; Dance Marathon; Jeans for Troops and Angel Tree. They have assisted families with Thanksgiving meals and Christmas present donations. They collected $1,000 for Riley hospital and worked with Mother’s Cupboard and the St. Vincent DePaul food pantry. Individual students have overcome personal financial and medical challenges.
Over the past four years Brown County High School has been ranked among Indiana’s Best High Schools by U.S. News and World Report. We currently rate as a silver medal school and U.S. News ranks BCHS as the 44th best high school in Indiana. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that our valedictorian, Greiner, has been selected as an Indiana University Wells Scholar, the most prestigious of awards given by IU to an incoming freshman. Kayla Snyder is the recipient of this year’s Lilly Scholarship awarded by the Brown County Community Foundation. Many of our graduates received scholarships and awards from our local organizations for their accomplishments.
I want to thank the parents of the class of 2016 for letting us at Brown County Schools work all of these years with your precious sons and daughters. As you are proud of them, so are we. They have been an outstanding group and we know they will achieve much in their futures. We wish them every success and happiness.
David Shaffer is superintendent of Brown County schools.