National Merit Recognizes JA Seniors

September 22, 2015 / ALL NEWS

Being surrounded by a supportive community makes a huge difference for students. Jackson Academy seniors who have been recognized by the National Merit Scholarship Program cite the support of family and teachers as a factor in their success. Yet they also demonstrate that taking personal responsibility and being a self-directed learner are traits that help them reach their goals.

Georgia Gibson and Robyn Hadden have been named semifinalists and Dalton Gibson, Rebecca Nosef, and Davis Ripee have been commended by the National Merit program. They are among the nearly 1.5 million students who took the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test last year as juniors. Those receiving semifinalist status make up less than one percent of high school seniors across the country. In addition to testing, students seeking finalist status must validate other qualities of excellence, involvement, and leadership through a detailed application process.

Jackson Academy’s students took a moment to reflect on their favorite class, their future plans, and their advice to other students about senior year.

Georgia Gibson

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What is your favorite class, and why?

AP Chemistry with Mrs. Ciaccio. I loved Mrs. Ciaccio’s style of teaching and the material covered in the class. The class was challenging, but I feel prepared for college-level chemistry classes. We had a small class, and each student contributed to the class and challenged one another. I especially enjoyed the trips our class took to perform labs at Millsaps.

What are your college plans?

I have applied to a variety of universities that are both in state and out of state, and I hope to make a decision in the coming months. Currently, my top three choices are Vanderbilt, Auburn, and TCU.

What do you hope to do in life? What career do you think you will choose?

In college, I plan on majoring in either molecular biology or biochemistry. After college, I plan on attending medical school and someday becoming a surgeon.

What things do you do outside of class?

Accents, cross-country, Quizbowl, piano, Young Life, volunteer at Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital, Outdoor Club

How has your family encouraged your academic success?

I am a very self-motivated individual and always have been. When I was in elementary school, my parents would help me study my spelling words or check my math homework, but after sixth grade I became very independent. My parents are proud of my accomplishments, but do not push me to achieve academic honors. I set goals for myself and make the choice to pursue these goals.

Any final words of wisdom as a senior?

As my 14 years at Jackson Academy are coming to a close, I have realized that I have taken JA for granted. Enjoy everything JA has to offer while you still can. The one thing I will miss most about JA is the teachers. JA teachers invest in their students and truly want them to succeed. Over the years, I have developed great relationships with most of my teachers, and these relationships are invaluable.

Robyn Hadden

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What is your favorite class, and why?

My favorite class was ninth grade honors biology because it was an interesting subject and Mr. McCartney was great at explaining challenging concepts.

What are your college plans?

I plan on attending Mississippi State University and majoring in biology or biomedical
engineering.

What do you hope to do in life? What career do you think you will choose?

I hope to become an orthopedic surgeon.

What things do you do outside of class?

I play basketball, tennis, and softball. I also enjoy reading, watching Grey’s Anatomy, and cheering on the Bulldogs.

What motivates you to be a good student?

My parents have always worked hard to provide me with the best possible education. My motivation to do well in school comes from wanting to make the most of the opportunities I have been given.

Dalton Gibson

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Favorite Class

My favorite class so far has been AP Physics 1 with Mr. Theriot. I’ve always been a math person, and physics combined my love for math with my love for problem solving. For me physics just made sense, and that’s probably a good thing since I want to be an engineer. AP Physics 1 really pushed me to pursue physics further, so this year I am doing an independent study of AP Physics C, which is calculus-based physics.

College Plans

My top choice right now is Southern Methodist University in Dallas, but I’m trying to decide between SMU and Georgia Tech. I’m leaning more towards SMU, because I like the size of the school and how the engineering classes are much smaller than at Georgia Tech. Growing up at JA, I’ve been exposed to small class sizes and good relationships with my teachers, which hopefully SMU could lend due to its size.

Career Options?

I want to get a degree in mechanical engineering. My goal is to work for either Intamin or Bollinger & Mabillard to design and manufacture roller coasters. But, I don’t want to just design roller coasters. I also want to become a choreographer and hopefully teach choreography on the side for either show choir or hip-hop classes.

Things I Do Outside of Class

I love to dance, and I do it all the time. I’ve been in show choir every year since seventh grade, and it really created my love for dancing. Ever since I was introduced to choreography, I’ve wanted to learn more and more and create my own. Dance is definitely my biggest passion, and I hope to be able to do something with it someday.

Advice to JA Students

Making good grades and being a good student definitely takes a little more effort, but just realize how much difference it makes in the long run. With good grades in high school, you will have so many more opportunities in college and after college. High school can really determine how the rest of your life plays out, and spending just a few extra minutes every night can really make a difference.

Rebecca Nosef

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What is your favorite class, and why?

French (I’m in French 4) I LOVE Madame and everyone in my class, and it is honestly the highlight of my day.

What are your college plans?

I’ve applied many places in and out of state and I’m also working on scholarship and honors college applications, so I’m keeping my options open right now.

What do you hope to do in life? What career do you think you will choose?

All I know is that I want to really enjoy what I do, but I’m not sure of any certain career path yet.  Right now I’m aiming to eventually go to medical school.

What things do you do outside of class?

My life basically revolves around Accents; I don’t think people know how much work goes into Accents. I’m currently going through our Prep dance and writing down every move count by count, for example. Even though Accents is a ton of work, I would never give it up—and I don’t think anyone has as much fun at football games as the other officers and I do.

What is the best advice you could give to JA students who are coming up behind you?

Do well your ninth and tenth grade year so you will have a high GPA once you become an upperclassman. Senior year is my hardest year of school by far, and I never would have expected that.

Any final words of wisdom as a senior?

Enjoy high school while it lasts. I know EVERYONE looks forward to getting out of here, but when you look up and you’re suddenly planning for college and graduation, you’ll regret not enjoying high school as much as possible.

Davis Rippee

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What is your favorite class, and why?

I really enjoyed Mrs. Ball’s AP US History class my junior year. She did an excellent job in preparing us for the AP exam and helped me think about history in a way that I had never thought about it before. I also enjoyed the class discussions that we participated in daily.

What are your college plans?

I plan on attending the University of Mississippi next fall and majoring in biochemistry. I also am applying to be a part of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College.

What do you hope to do in life? What career do you think you will choose?

After graduating college, I hope to attend medical school and one day become a doctor. I would love to help the people of Mississippi become healthier, as we have the highest rate of diabetes, hypertension, and obesity in the country. Educating Mississippians on how to live a healthier lifestyle and changing the national perception of this state is a goal of mine.

What things do you do outside of class?

I enjoy playing golf and try to play as much as possible. I’m a huge fan of Ole Miss football and love going to the games. Deer hunting is another favorite activity of mine. I’m also a fantasy football champion, and this year I think my team is going all the way again.

How has your family encouraged your academic success?

My mom has always encouraged me to perform at the highest level I can academically. Both my parents and my siblings have supported me my entire life and have allowed me to believe that I can do anything that I set my mind to.

Any final words of wisdom as a senior?

Don’t blink.