Students from every high school in the Shelby County School District were honored by Superintendent Randy Fuller as part of the ACT College and Career Readiness Campaign during the February 19 Board of Education meeting.
Assistant Superintendent of Instruction, Dr. Lynn Cook, said the district is allowed to select one winner to send to the State Department of Education for consideration as Alabama’s candidate for the national campaign. From the pool of state candidates, ACT will select one overall national winner who will be recognized at ACT’s National Gala on College and Career Readiness to be held in Washington, D.C. on June 9.
In order to select one winner from Shelby County, Dr. Cook asked each high school to submit a candidate who exemplified the following criteria outlined by ACT: students who have shown outstanding performance on the ACT; demonstrate college and career readiness; demonstrate success in the classroom with a high grade point average; are involved in extracurricular activities, leadership positions, community service and have work experience; have unique personal traits and future plans; and/or have overcome adversity or other extraordinary circumstances.
The winners from each school were Aidan Ryan of Calera High School, Tanner Sulser of Chelsea High School, Grant Beard of Helena High School, Gregory Spence of Montevallo High School, Chase Stiffler of Oak Mountain High School, Virginia Mack of Shelby County College & Career Center, Emily Somer Hall of Shelby County High School and Keenan Wallace of Vincent High School.
Gregory Spence of Montevallo High School was selected by a committee as the overall winner to represent Shelby County at the state level. Spence holds an impressive number of accomplishments within and outside the classroom and has demonstrated tremendous leadership skills. He is vice president of the National Honor Society and president of the MHS student body. He is also a member of Mu Alpha Theta, Student Government Association, yearbook editor, Chess Club, cross country and soccer teams, and the Moonlight Players advanced theatre group.
Spence has been involved with international missionary work through his church and the Word of Life Ministries and is an active member of Child Evangelist and Fellowship. He has maintained his high academic performance while working multiple part-time jobs at Chick-fil-A, landscaping, and as a sales representative for Dave’s Construction.
After graduation, Spence plans to take a year-long mission trip for his church. He will then enroll at the University of Alabama on full scholarship. He plans to major in Bio-Mechanical Engineering and immediately pursue a Master’s Degree in Bio-Medical Engineering at UA in an effort to pursue his desire of helping those who suffer from diseases which lack the research and support needed to discover better treatments and cures.
Aidan Ryan was the winner for Calera High School. She is the captain of the varsity soccer team and the band’s color guard and serves as vice president of the Student Government Association, treasurer of Future Business Leaders of America, and president of the Spanish Honor Society. Ryan has been on the A/B honor roll throughout high school and maintains a rigorous course load, taking six AP courses this year. She has also earned the Silver Level Award for 50 plus hours for service learning.
Ryan volunteers for Special Olympics and works part-time at Publix. She intends to pursue a career in the natural sciences, minoring in Spanish. Ryan hopes to move to Central or South America to conduct medical and environmental research with the goal of protecting natural resources while improving the quality of life for the people living there.
Tanner Sulser was the winner for Chelsea High School. Sulser is a student leader who is involved in a variety of school activities such as: Key Club, peer helpers, math team, Scholar’s Bowl, Shelby County Youth Leadership, Alabama Boys State, National Honor Society, Beta Club, Spanish Honor Society, and Mu Alpha Theta. Sulser was also recognized as Student of the Year by three separate teachers, and is a member of the cross country team, soccer team and CrossFit Club.
Tanner frequently helps with the peer tutoring program, the Shelby County Humane Society, and volunteers with his church working with special needs children. Sulser plans to attend Auburn University and study Chemical Engineering.
Grant Beard, the candidate for Helena High School, is currently the top ranking student academically in his senior class. He is also involved in many school activities such as National Honor Society, English Honor Society, and Mu Alpha Theta. Beard also serves as co-captain of the Scholars Bowl Team where he recently placed in the top three in the county tournament for individual scoring.
Beard volunteers at several local churches with their children’s ministry and serves as a Helena Ambassador. He continues to maintain excellent grades while working at Publix as a front service clerk. Beard plans to attend the University of Alabama with hopes of becoming a bio-mechanical engineer. He is looking forward to doing research with professors who are developing prosthetics that attach to nerve endings.
Chase Stiffler was chosen as the representative for Oak Mountain High School. He is involved in numerous activities including: Magna Cum Laude on the National Latin Exam; National Honor Society; historian of Rho Kappa; treasurer of Mu Alpha Theta; Future Business Leaders of America; SGA Advisor; Mentor Program; Junior Classical League and Relay for Life Committee. The busy student athlete, who is a member of the baseball and basketball teams, takes a rigiourious schedule of seven advanced placement (AP) and nine honors courses.
Stiffler actively serves his community through participation in the Diabetes Walk, Firehouse Shelter, Relay for Life, Disaster Relief, Hoops for Hope, and the Younglife Frostbite 5k. His willingness to serve others was further exemplified through work in the Mexico mission field for his church. He has worked in landscaping, umpired for youth baseball, and co-founded a T-shirt company.
Stiffler, who is currently a home wellness consultant for Electrolux. plans to use his entrepreneur skills in the business field after college.
Virginia Mack was selected to represent the Shelby County College & Career Center (SCCC). Mack was described by school leaders as having a quite confidence and being a positive role model for others. She is a member of the BETA club; Ambassador/Peer Helpers, and Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA), where she serves as parliamentarian.
Mack plays a vital role recruiting students to the SCCC to take career technical courses. She has been involved with preparations for the “Pink Out” event to raise awareness and money for breast cancer. She is generous with her time, going to local nursing homes to deliver cards and visit patients that were alone during the holidays to uplift their spirits.
Mack is currently taking an on-line class to become a pharmacy tech and will be able to take a test in August for certification in that area. She plans to attend a two-year college and possibly transfer to a four-year university.
Emily Somer Hall was chosen as the winner for Shelby County High School. Hall is described as a very dependable and trustworthy student who is quick to help others. She serves as the executive vice president for SGA; member of Diamond Dolls; bookkeeper for the wrestling team; Miss Shelby County High School; homecoming court; and Show Choir and All State Choir.
Somer has traveled to Costa Rica and Kentucky on church mission trips, is active in the Acteens organization, and plays the guitar in the church’s praise band. She is also a mentor for the Campfire USA program and was selected to participate in the Shelby County Youth Leadership program her junior year. Hall will attend Samford University next year on the Leadership Scholarship and the Legacy Scholarship.
Keenan Wallace (no photo available) was selected as the representative for Vincent High School. He has excelled both in and out of the classroom and has been an active student leader in his school. He serves as the class vice president; vice president of SGA; Boys State representative; Shelby County Youth Leadership; PSAT Super Scholar award winner; PLAN Super Scholar award winner; Larry Headrick award winner for the highest PLAN score as a 10th grader; Junior Cadet Leadership Course. Wallace earned the “I Dare You” Award and is a member of the football team
Keenan has earned more than 40 hours of community service, working ten of those hours at Shelby Ridge Health and Rehab Nursing Home. He plans to attend the University of Alabama in the fall with a full tuition scholarship with the goal of becoming a nurse anesthetist.