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59 Students Graduate in The Gatton Academy's Tenth Class

  • Author: Zack Ryle
  • Author: Saturday, May 13th, 2017
59 Students Graduate in The Gatton Academy's Tenth Class

On Saturday, May 13, fifty-nine students representing forty counties from across the Commonwealth of Kentucky were recognized during The Gatton Academy’s tenth graduation ceremony in Van Meter Hall.

Gatton Academy Executive Director and Mahurin Professor of Gifted Education Dr. Julia Roberts expressed that the graduation ceremony was a celebration for the entire Commonwealth. 

“Today is a day of celebration for Gatton Academy graduates and their families,” Roberts said.  “These young people are well prepared for the next steps in their preparation for leadership in STEM careers.  We congratulate our 2017 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.

“This exceptional group of students has made the most of the opportunities our school offers.  These graduates have taken academic risks and persevered in our intensely rigorous curriculum.  Thanks to the dedication and support of WKU faculty and staff, our graduates are well prepared for the infinite possibilities ahead of them.”

Sixteen members of the class were selected as National Merit finalists, two seniors earned National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) scholarships, and four students were recognized as semifinalists in the Siemens competition. 92 percent of the class participated in faculty-sponsored research during their time at the Academy, and nine graduates completed the school’s STEM + Critical Languages curriculum in either Arabic or Chinese.  88 percent of the senior class studied abroad while at The Gatton Academy.  66.1 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 3698.75 service hours.

When trying to find a way to summarize the Gatton experience, LaGrange senior Logan Parker could only think of questions, not answers.

“Why did you decide to go to Gatton? I could give all the reasons listed on the Academy’s homepage: college credit, STEM classes, research, study abroad.  These are many of the reasons I decided to attend Gatton,” stated Parker.  “Maybe a better question is “why did you decide to stay?”  Those benefits mentioned previously are very much a part of the experience, but the people sitting in front of the stage (referencing the graduating class) are the basis for staying here.  Both our differences and our similarities are what truly make Gatton remarkable.”

Dr. Julia Carter delivered the commencement address.  Dr. Carter is the President of the Wood Hudson Cancer Research Laboratory in Newport, Kentucky. Her words of advice centered on dreams.

“As your commencement speaker, I would like to congratulate you on your academic achievements,” stated Dr. Carter.  “You need to always be a dreamer, pursue your dreams with persistence, and never lose sight of your dreams. Remember you are Kentucky’s Dream Team! The future of the Commonwealth is in your hands, and we are expecting great things from you.”  

Haley Dicken, a graduating senior from Jamestown, reflected on how much can occur in just two short years.

“Two years can change a lot.  From birth to 2 years, we changed incredibly.  Your first two years of life are so important.  You learn to walk, how to talk, and how to see the world differently than we ever did before,” stated Dicken. “I cannot wait to see what the next two years hold for us, and the two after that, and the two after that.  Maybe, just maybe, we will use our new walk, our new talk, and our new vision gifted to us by The Gatton Academy to experience life for all it’s worth!”

In the fall of 2017, students from the graduating class will attend 22 colleges and universities across the United States: Centre College, Chapman University, University of Cincinnati, Duke University, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, Macalester College, Northeastern University, University of Notre Dame, Purdue University, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, The Ohio State University, The University of Alabama in Huntsville, United States Air Force Academy, University of Kentucky, University of Louisville, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, The University of Tennessee Knoxville, Vanderbilt University, Vassar College, Washington University in St. Louis, and Western Kentucky University.


Members of The Gatton Academy’s Class of 2017

Barren County

  • Tithe Ahmed (Glasgow High School)*

Boone County

  • Ethan Abate (Randall K. Cooper High School)
  • Reese Danzer (Walton Verona High School)
  • Jessica Williams (Randall K. Cooper High School)*
  • Amanda Zahn (Larry A. Ryle High School)*

Boyd County

  • Mia Weaver (Paul G. Blazer High School)

Bullitt County

  • Caity Forgey (Bullitt Central High School)

Campbell County

  • Parker Graff (Homeschool)*
  • Emma Reed (Highlands High School)*
  • Gabrielle Witt (Campbell County High School)

Carter County

  • Jacob McDavid (East Carter County High School)

Christian County

  • Sherafghan Khan (University Heights Academy)*
  • Jonathan Kinnard (University Heights Academy)*

Daviess County

  • Tricia Thompson (Owensboro Catholic High School)*

Edmonson County

  • Makenzie Daniels (Edmonson County High School)*

Estill County

  • Caleb Stickney (Estill County High School)*

Fayette County

  • Tyler Smith (Henry Clay High School)*
  • Elizabeth Yates (Lafayette High School)

Franklin County

  • Cordelia Jones (Western Hills High School)

Gallatin County

  • Olivia Urso (Gallatin County High School)*

Graves County

  • Xavier Brickeen (Graves County High School)*

Greenup County

  • Ayush Prasad (Russell High School)*

Hardin County

  • Samuel Newton (Central Hardin High School)
  • Taylor Senay (Elizabethtown High School)*

Harlan County

  • Mason Miller (Harlan High School)

Hopkins County

  • Dylan Daugherty (Madisonville North Hopkins High School)*

Jackson County

  • Rhiannon Connor (Berea Community High School)

Jefferson County

  • Katie Alexander (Louisville Male High School)*
  • Kat Brown (duPont Manual High School)*
  • Eileen Price (duPont Manual High School)*
  • Sara Saeed (duPont Manual School)

Knox County

  • Cherish Gray (Knox Central High School)

Logan County

  • Amber Carroll (Logan County High School)*

Marion County

  • Matthew Courtwright (Marion County High School)

Marshall County

  • Taylor Young (Marshall County High School)*

McCracken County

  • Robert Bosh (Saint Mary High School)*

Meade County

  • James Matthew Biddle (Elizabethtown High School)

Mercer County

  • Ruth Hughes (Danville High School)

Nelson County

  • Caroline Boone (Nelson County High School)
  • Clara Pozgay (Nelson County High School)

Oldham County

  • Alexander Banaszak (Oldham County High School)*
  • Mark Clark (South Oldham High School)
  • Aaron Kirtland (South Oldham High School)*
  • Logan Parker (Oldham County High School)*

Perry County

  • Alexa Townes (Hazard High School)

Pulaski County

  • Mark Carrender (Somerset Christian School)

Rowan County

  • Honor Hare (Rowan County Senior High School)*

Russell County

  • Haley Dicken (Russell County High School)

Todd County

  • Julia Johnson (Heritage Christian Academy)*

Trigg County

  • Matthew Broadbent (Heritage Christian Academy)

Trimble County

  • Jenna Rowlett (Trimble County High School)*

Union County

  • Presley Henshaw (Union County High School)*

Warren County

  • Karthik Boyareddygari (South Warren High School)*
  • Veronica Johnson (Bowling Green High School)*
  • Evan Kessler (Bowling Green High School)*
  • Longji Li (South Warren High School)
  • Elaine Losekamp (Greenwood High School)

Whitley County

  • Katie Ashley (Corbin High School)*

Woodford County

  • Benjamin Luckett (Woodford County High School)* 


* Gatton Community Scholar

These graduates are recognized for completing two semesters of research with a research outcome that is presented to a professional audience after being accepted through a vetted process OR four semesters of participation in STEM+Critical Languages, AND documenting 60 hours of service.  

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