Senior Stars (by Alexander and Navarro)

Senior Stars

Five students in the running for top academic spots

By Katie Alexander and Adam Navarro

Typically within a class, there are two standout students, the valedictorian and salutatorian. However, in Delta’s senior class of 2020, there are five star students at the top. The race for the first two spots will be a close one.

Natalie Talbot, Zac Stanley, Tristan Pickering, Kaylee Kemp and Anthony Gullion are the top five of the senior class with grades from the final semester not yet posted. The race is close and could change, but there is no bad blood between them.

These five students are all hardworking and diligent about their academics and time management. They’ve all earned their spot at the top.
Art student with ceramics Natalie Talbot will attend Brigham Young University.

Natalie Talbot, who is currently at the top of the class, plans to attend Brigham Young University in Utah. She won the Brigham Young scholarship there, which will pay for half of her tuition. She wants to work as a brand manager, a job that would be fulfilling to her and use her artistic skills.

Natalie is highly involved in the art program. She had several pieces in the Young Artist’s Exhibition, in which she won second place as a freshman and first place as a junior. She is also heavily involved in Spell Bowl and has won several awards over the years. 

However, none of those are her proudest accomplishments. “What I am proudest of so far in my life are the close relationships I've been able to make with friends,” Natalie said. She appreciates and values her friends and family and everything they have done for her.

When her senior year finished online, Natalie missed the school environment, but didn’t hate online learning. “It is a lot more self-driven, so it’s a nice peek into what college life will be more like,” she said. 

Natalie is especially sad to miss out on “the wind-down” of her senior year. It was something that she had been looking forward to for a while. She wanted to experience the end of her career at Delta in an exciting way.

“I try not to dwell too much on the experiences that I’m missing out on and just be grateful for all of the amazing memories I was able to make,” she said.

Long jumper

Zac Stanley will attend Butler University.
Zac Stanley
is ranked second in his class. 

“I feel very blessed to be ranked in the top 5 because it just shows that all my hard work throughout high school is paying off. It’s preparing me for a successful life after high school and I can’t thank everyone enough at Delta for all they have done for me,” Zac said. 

In addition to being in National Honor Society, Freshman Mentors, and Chick-fil-A Leadership Academy, he is also a three-sport athlete, playing soccer, track, and football.

“Just being in sports I believe will help me a ton in life because it taught me discipline and time management. Especially in the fall season, I had to juggle two sports and academics all at the same time. It’s a lot of work, but it taught me not to waste any time I have, and this will be important for me in college too, so I’m glad I learned that skill now instead of later,” Zac said. 

Zac will attend Butler University because he was one of two people in Delaware County to be awarded the Lilly Scholarship. This scholarship allows the recipient to go to any private or public university in the state with the tuition paid in full.

“Before that point, Butler wasn’t even on my radar,” Zac said. “I always knew that I wanted to go there, but it is a very expensive school, so I didn’t even consider it. But after winning the Lilly, one of the first things I did was to apply there and schedule a visit. After visiting, I knew it was the one because it just felt right.”

Zac is friends with the rest of the top four, and he said he’s going to miss them all.

“What stands out to me most about them is that they are all driven and hardworking. They will all be very successful in life and I can’t wait to see where they all end up.”
Tristan Pickering Tristan Pickering will attend IUPUI.

Tristan Pickering is currently ranked third in his class. He describes being ranked in the top five as “recognition for all of my hard work when it comes to my academics. I am also proud of myself for the effort I put in to get to the spot I am at.”

Tristan was involved in Freshman Mentors, Quiz Bowl, Academic Super Bowl, Blue Crew and National Honor Society. He was also a member of the yearbook staff. 

Tristan said that being top five “required a lot of dedication and the ability to balance school work with your personal life. You had to make sure you got all of your work in on time and stayed on top of everything that was required of you.”

In terms of how close the top five are, Tristan said it’s a matter of how competitive they all are.

“I think that the top 5 all being ranked so close together is really a testament to the 2020 senior class and shows how much we all care about our schooling,” he said. “It also shows just how competitive we all are when it comes to our grades.”

Tristan, who plans to attend IUPUI, said he’s going to miss his peers, especially the friends he made this year. “It’s going to be tough leaving them.”

He believes that all of the top five students have bright futures, adding, “I’m sure they will all be very successful with whatever they plan on doing in the future.”

Kaylee Kemp will attend Ball State University.
Kaylee Kemp
, another senior in the top five, admires the “hard work and persistence” of her fellow students in the top five. She is thankful for their friendship and helpfulness over the years. 

Kaylee is a cheerleader and a swimmer. She is involved in many clubs at Delta as well, like Freshman Mentors and Spikeball. She plans to go to Ball State University in the fall.

Kaylee chose Ball State for a number of reasons. She likes that it is close. She also wants to be a nurse and loved their program. “And I will be able to graduate debt free with the help of scholarships which has been a long time goal for me,” she said.

In the future she would love to work in a children’s hospital because she loves children. She wants to look for a place like Riley Hospital for Children because she enjoyed supporting them during her four years at Delta through the Dance Marathon program.

Kaylee is proud of how much she has grown during high school, but is sad her senior year had to end so abruptly. For younger students, Kaylee told them, “just take it all in and enjoy it-- try new things and just have fun because it goes so fast.”

A lot of things are now canceled that Kaylee and many other seniors were looking forward to.

Honestly, I didn’t realize what I had and how good I had it until it was taken away from me because of the virus,” Kaylee said.
Students in park 
Anthony Gullion will attend Ball State University.

Anthony Gullion is currently ranked fifth in his class. When describing what it took to be ranked in the top five, he offered an interesting answer.

“Being top 5 in our class took a lot of long nights finishing Omstead papers at the last minute. It took a lot of Hail Marys on Orchard tests. It took a lot of vocab cramming for Chem tests. More than anything, it took the ability to say to myself, ‘This is worth the extra effort and stress,’” Gullion said. 

Gullion was involved in a wide variety of clubs and extracurricular activities. They include Jazz Band his freshman and sophomore year, Chick-fil-A Leadership Academy all four years, National Honor Society from grades 10-12, Riley Dance Marathon junior year, JV baseball freshman and sophomore year, varsity baseball his junior and senior years, and Spikeball Club, which he co-founded, this year. 

Heading into his senior year, Anthony made a promise to himself: to create a club in high school. 

“I promised myself that by senior year I would get around to doing it,” he said. “I started playing spikeball during junior year and fell in love with it. I thought I would feel a lot more pressure being in charge of a club, but it was always more fun than actual work.”

Anthony said he’s going to miss all the relationships he’s made with people in high school.

He said: “I'll miss my teachers that I've formed strong relationships with. I'll miss my favorite sophomore duo. I'll miss beating Mr. Kern in basketball. I'll miss all the school friends that I never really get to talk to outside of those walls. I'll miss baseball games under the lights. I'll miss the silent bus rides home after a big loss and blaring country music after a big win. I'll miss that feeling of home that Delta's always made me feel.” 

Anthony considers the rest of the top five to all be his friends, and he wishes them nothing but the best. 

The lesson to be learned from these seniors is to not take anything for granted. The unconventional and inconvenient end to the year has left many upset, but these five students have kept working to finish out the year strong. They all deserve recognition for their continual hard work over the past four years.

Each of these five students has represented Delta High School well, and although only two will be named valedictorian and salutatorian, all of them are deserving. The race will be close, but the efforts of these star students always will be appreciated.