Student honored for activities and achievement
Gwynevere Deterding is named after the legendary queen of Camelot, whose life with King Arthur has been chronicled in books, movies and Broadway productions.
While there is no royal hierarchy in the Missouri education system, the Blue Springs High School seniors has reached the highest rung of what has been called the "Academic Decathlon," as she has been selected as a member of the Missouri Scholars 100 program, which honors the top 100 seniors in the state of Missouri.
"Gwen is pretty amazing," Blue Springs track and field coach Jennifer Reeder said after a recent wind-blown practice in which Deterding honed her skills in the 800 and 1,600 meters. "She works so hard – and I don't know how she finds the time to not only be involved in so many activities, but to be so successful in so many of them."
The Missouri Scholars 100 is sponsored by the Missouri Association of Secondary School Principals.
"It's all pretty new and exciting for me," Deterding said after track practice. "I received an email from my counselor, Mrs. (Christy) Blaney, saying that I had been nominated for this award, where they recognize the top 100 seniors in the state.”
"I knew there were 10 criteria that had to be addressed, and I gave her the information and I really didn't think much about it."
Blaney said the school nominated Deterding and Aiden David-Pennington, who was also selected.
“Every high school in Missouri can nominate up to two students, then the committee chooses the top 100 in the state,” Blaney said, “so for Gwyn to get chosen is amazing!”
“Gwyn not only met the academic portions of the decathlon, but I think what set her apart was the non-academic portions – the volunteering and having lettered in a school-related activity. For Gwyn it was lettering in track and cross country. Gwyn is an all-around amazing student, athlete and member of our BSHS community! We could not be more proud of her and all her accomplishments.”
Soon after talking to her counselor, Deterding received a letter from the Missouri Association of Secondary School Principals congratulating her.
"I was surprised and really excited about it," said Deterding, a National Merit finalist who has earned a full academic scholarship to the University of Alabama. "They're going to have a banquet in Columbia, Mo., and I'm looking forward to it."
Each nominee had to meet criteria of the "Academic Decathlon." The student must have a minimum GPA of 3.75, a minimum ACT score of 29 or a SAT score of 1,600, be ranked in the upper 10 percent of his or her class, and have taken high-level courses in mathematics, science, English and a foreign language.
The student must also have "excellent attendance, be an exemplary school citizen and be involved in the school's activity programs."
Deterding has a 4.2 GPA and is the treasurer of National Honor Society, which makes its mark outside of the school through community service work. She is a varsity member of the track and field and cross country squads and is a member of the three choirs at Blue Springs – a capella, chamber and the women's choir.
She has studied ballet and one day hopes to be a professional dancer.
"I could use a few more hours in the week," she said, smiling, "but I like to be busy. And it was important to me to make the most of my four years at Blue Springs High School. And an honor like this makes you feel good, makes you feel like you've made an impact on people at the high school."
And she's not just attracting the attention of teachers, coaches and administrators at her high school.
Clark Mershon, executive director of the principals' association, said, "The Missouri Scholars 100 Program is one of the most premier academic recognition programs in the country. It is truly a celebration of learning.”
While no students across the nation are experiencing a normal senior year, Deterding said an honor like the one she just received takes a bit of the sting away from the events she and her classmates were unable to participate in.
"Our choir was supposed to go to New York City March 13 of last year, and the trip was canceled due to COVID the day before we were supposed to leave," she said. "With my ballet, I have not danced for a year. And there are so many little things we're all missing – like hanging out with our friends after school.”
"But, with all that taken away, it does leave a lot more time for studies, and I've taken advantage of that. I'm proud of what I've been able to accomplish and just want to thank everyone for making this possible."