Neither Pete Trotter nor Gwen Shoaf claimed to be a natural at academics.
But each found time for extracurricular activities -- and still finished at the top of an exceptionally smart graduating class at Hauser Sr. High School.
Pete Trotter, the valedictorian, made the choice early in life to put academics above all else. He would sometimes have to arrive late or leave early from basketball, track or soccer practice, just to squeeze in another hour or two of study time. Gwen Shoaf, the salutatorian, found time to work at least two to three times a week as a host and baker at Texas Roadhouse in Columbus. The job led to many instances in which she would have to stay up late to study and lose a full night's sleep.
During commencement ceremonies Friday, the pair took turns addressing 47 fellow graduating seniors who collectively achieved quite a bit themselves.
How much did they achieve?
Hauser Principal J.P. Mayer said the 50-student class earned a total of $1.011 million in scholarships. That shatters last year's record, when 68 students received $812,000 in scholarships.
The new graduates were special in other ways, too. They were outgoing, Mayer said, and athletic to the point that they played significant roles in advancing several sports teams deep into the post seasons.
"The Class of 2017 will be missed," he said.
Trotter, whose parents are Barry and Polly Trotter, said becoming valedictorian was the payoff to many years of hard work. His exceptional grade point average (around 4.17, from his recollection) earned for him the prestigious Lilly Endowment Scholarship, which gives one recipient per year a full ride to any four-year college in Indiana, plus a $900 stipend. He said he will put his scholarship to use at Wabash College, where he will enter its prestigious Pre-Med program.
"I don't know my major yet," Trotter said, but added that he knows he will join track.
He said attending that college appeals to him because, as an all-male institution, it is built on a tradition of brotherhood.
"I fell in love with that," he said.
Shoaf, whose parents are Jeff and Cindy Shoaf, rode her roughly 4.0 grade point average to Dollars for Scholars, a Bartholomew County Heritage Fund scholarship worth $1,400. She will enter the pharmaceutical or neuro-pharmacology program at Utah's Brigham Young University, where two of her six siblings previously graduated.
In other words, Shoaf is about to move far away from home, as others will among the graduating class.