Barren, Glasgow High School student members of Gatton Academy graduating class

Abrar Rahman, left, and Ashley Wright graduated from the Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science on Aug. 8. Rahman attended Glasgow High School before attending the school, while Wright attended Barren County High School.

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Graduates representing 43 counties from across the Commonwealth of Kentucky were recognized on Saturday during The Gatton Academy’s 13th graduation ceremony. One student from Barren County High School and Glasgow High School were members of the class.

The ceremony took place in WKU’s Diddle Arena, where masks were required and attending graduates and families were strategically and widely spaced to adhere to social-distancing guidelines. The graduation ceremony was simultaneously webcast to honor all graduates and include those who chose not be in physical attendance.

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

“Graduation at The Gatton Academy presents a time to celebrate graduates, their families, and citizens arougattonnd the Commonwealth,” stated Roberts. “Gatton graduates are well on their way to being leaders in Kentucky’s future.”

Gatton Academy Director Dr. Lynette Breedlove praised the graduates for their persistence.

“The Gatton Academy Class of 2020 has experienced a senior year like no other. And yet the students have persevered and persisted. While at Gatton they traveled internationally, pursued their interests through research, volunteered in many different communities, and build life-long friendships. When they were forced to return home to finish their last semester, they found ways to continue to learn and contribute to their communities. I am incredibly proud of these students and know they are well on their way to pursuing their infinite possibilities,” stated Breedlove.

Twenty members of the class were selected as National Merit finalists, nine graduates earned National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) scholarships, and one was awarded the Department of Defense’s SMART Scholarship. Most graduates (89%) participated in faculty-sponsored research at WKU during their time at The Gatton Academy, and 17 completed the school’s STEM + Critical Languages curriculum in either Arabic, Chinese, or Russian. Most graduates (93%) studied abroad while at The Gatton Academy.  The graduating class completed a total of 4,773 hours of service during their two years at The Gatton Academy, which is an average of 54.9 hours per graduate.

Following Gatton Academy tradition, the graduating class voted to select two of their peers to speak at the ceremony. Bailey Knight, a graduate from Lexington, and Lorenzo Mahoney, a graduate from Louisville, were selected.

Knight took time to reflect on the rigor of The Gatton Academy and to comment on what his experience taught him. “It’s hard to leave your house two years early, it’s hard to take college classes, it’s hard to have a roommate, it’s hard to leave your old place behind,” Knight said. “But the kicker, what makes it all worth it, is that doing a hard thing, no matter what it is, always leaves you with something.”

Mahoney playfully remarked on his personal growth over the past two years. “The 15-year-old Lorenzo would have been scared, apologetic, and taken everything a bit too seriously. He described his floormates as ‘way too into anime’ and hated the idea of showing up at a dance, even one at a self-proclaimed nerd school,” Mahoney said. “Clearly, that is not the person speaking before you now. The people in this room and those tuning in from across the state are the reason for that growth, and I am forever grateful to them and our time together.”

In lieu of a traditional Commencement keynote, Governor Andy Beshear sent a personal video message to The Gatton Academy’s Class of 2020. Governor Beshear commented on the graduates’ preparation for current challenges. “I’m sure you never expected the end of your final year with Gatton to look the way it has, but the determination that led you to Gatton helped you overcome what we are facing,” he said.

Beshear continued, “The next step you’re about to take is one of the biggest transitions in a young person’s life and you are entering it during these unprecedented times as we fight a global pandemic, but if you ever feel doubt, or uncertainty, or anxiety, remember your time at Gatton has prepared you for this.”

In the fall of 2020, students from the graduating class will attend the following 32 colleges and universities across the United States and the world: University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of Alabama in Huntsville, Brown University, Centre College, University of Chicago, University of Cincinnati, Columbia University, Duke Kunshan University (China), Georgetown University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Indiana University-Bloomington, James Madison University, University of Kentucky, University of Louisville, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Michigan Technological University, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Middlebury College, Mississippi State University, New York University, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Princeton University, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Royal Veterinary College, Stanford University, Syracuse University, University of Texas at Austin, University of Texas at Dallas, Ohio State University, University of Toronto (Canada), Washington University in St. Louis, and Western Kentucky University.


Members of The Gatton Academy’s Class of 2020

Barren County

    Abrar Rahman* (Glasgow High School)

    Ashley Wright* (Barren County High School)

Boone County

    Claire Braun* (Larry A. Ryle High School)

    Norman Chan* (Conner High School)

    Lars Hebenstiel* (Randall K. Cooper High School)

Boyd County

    Ashbey Manning* (Boyd County High School)

Breckinridge County

    John Thornhill (Breckinridge County High School)

Caldwell County

    Lillian Kimmel* (Caldwell County High School)

Calloway County

    Sophia Bogard (Calloway County High School)

Campbell County

    John Thomas “JT” Reagor* (Campbell County High School)

Carter County

    Bruce Zheng* (East Carter High School)

Christian County

    Gabriella Lynn* (University Heights Academy)

    Jerry “JB” Morse II (Hopkinsville High School)

Clark County

    Sarah Vickers* (George Rogers Clark High School)

Crittenden County

    Lily Berry (Crittenden County High School)

Daviess County

    Nathan Jones* (Owensboro High School)

    Austin White* (Daviess County High School)

Estill County

    Miriam Richardson* (Estill County High School)

Fayette County

    Bailey Knight* (Paul L. Dunbar High School)

    Timothy Leggas (Lafayette High School)

    Dalton Richardson (Frederick Douglass High School)

    Elisha VanZant* (Henry Clay High School)

    Sierra Wyllie* (Henry Clay High School)

Franklin County

    Lukas Negron* (Western Hills High School)

    Hasitha Ramisetti* (Western Hills High School)

   Anna Simpson* (Western Hills High School)

Grayson County

    Isaac “Spencer” Cannon* (Grayson County High School)

Green County

    Michael Givens* (Green County High School)

Greenup County

    Lee-Lee Knupp* (Russell High School)

    Jocelyn Martin* (Russell High School)

    Nicholas Sabotchick (Russell High School)

Hardin County

    Catherine Appelman* (Elizabethtown High School)

    Amara Danturthi* (John Hardin High School)

    Patrick O’Boyle* (John Hardin High School)

    Christopher Nathaniel Smith (North Hardin Christian School)

Henderson County

    Tristan Clement* (Henderson County High School)

Henry County

    Jackson McCoun* (Henry County High School)

Hopkins County

    Audrey Karis Littlepage* (Madisonville-North Hopkins High School)

Jefferson County

    Sara Barrens* (Louisville Collegiate School)

    William Dolan* (J. Graham Brown School)

    Sanya Dronawat* (duPont Manual High School)

    Lorenzo Mahoney* (Kentucky Country Day School)

    Logan Mingus (Atherton High School)

Kenton County

    Grace McClurg* (Ludlow High School)

    Ian Storrs* (Dixie Heights High School)

Knox County

    Sarah Pedersen* (Corbin High School)

Laurel County

    Ethan Coots (South Laurel High School)

    Usman Salim* (North Laurel High School)

Madison County

    Hazel Traw* (Berea Community High School)

Marshall County

    Kelsey Littrell* (Marshall County High School)

McCracken County

    Jason Qiu (McCracken County High School)

    Alec Ramos (McCracken County High School)

    Annissa Roberts* (McCracken County High School)

Montgomery County

    Allison Paige Blevins* (Montgomery County High School)

Muhlenberg County

    Jacob Moore (Muhlenberg County High School)

Nelson County

    Camila Lozano* (Thomas Nelson High School)

    Laurel Philpott* (Nelson County High School)

Oldham County

    Chloe Banaszak* (Oldham County High School)

    Natalie Cooper* (Oldham County High School)

    Matthew Johnson* (Oldham County High School)

    Hannah Leibman* (North Oldham High School)

    Elizabeth Morgan* (Oldham County High School)

    Uria Park* (South Oldham High School)

    Saee Patwardhan* (North Oldham High School)

Pendleton County

    Chloe-Lin Jaiswal* (Pendleton County High School)

Perry County

    Edwin “EJ” Fields (Hazard High School)

Pulaski County

    David Suarez* (Southwestern High School)

Rowan County

    Margot Hare* (Rowan County Senior High School)

    Licia Henneberg (Rowan County Senior High School)

    Eumin Shin (Rowan County Senior High School)

Russell County

    Maggie Gossage* (Russell County High School)

Shelby County

    Hannah Suter* (Martha Layne Collins High School)

Trigg County

    Alexander Perry (Trigg County High School)

Warren County

    Sai Boyareddygari* (South Warren High School)

    Akenpaul Chani* (Pope John Paul II High School)

    Caitlin Cook* (Greenwood High School)

    Mario Hernandez (Warren Central High School)

    Stuart Kernohan (Bowling Green High School)

    Owen Mefford* (Greenwood High School)

    Maunil Mullick* (Bowling Green High School)

    Ngoc Nguyen* (South Warren High School)

    Meghan Pierce* (Warren East High School)

    Lydia Speer (Bowling Green High School)

    Darby Tassell* (Bowling Green High School)

    Elijah Whittle* (Warren East High School)

Washington County

    Mary “Belle” Begley* (Washington County High School)

Whitley County

    Caeden Whitaker* (Whitley County High School)

Gatton Community Scholar

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