High achievers: Rotary honors Tupelo’s top scholars

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Six years ago, Tupelo High School’s Elise Friloux watched in admiration when a group of seniors at the school were named Six-Year Rotary Scholars.
On Monday, she entered that club.
“For me, it is a big honor,” Friloux said of joining four classmates to receive the distinction during the annual Rotary Scholars Recognition ceremony at The Summit. “When I was in seventh-grade, I looked up to the seniors who were Six-Year scholars.”
Each year, the Rotary Club of Tupelo recognizes the top 30 Tupelo students in each grade from seventh to 12th. In the past, honorees were those with the highest grade-point averages, but beginning last year, extra weight was given to students enrolled in advanced placement, pre-advanced placement and accelerated classes.
This year’s 180 honorees weren’t necessarily those with the 30 best grade-point averages, but those with the top averages who were also challenging themselves with advanced courses.
“The Rotary Club thinks it is important to recognize hardworking, successful students, and we’ve taken today to bring the students, the families and the schools together to honor some of the top students,” said Julianne Goodwin, president of the Rotary Club of Tupelo. “These kids have chosen to take the harder path, and they are successful.”
Given special honors were the five seniors who have been named Rotary Scholars for each of the past six years. Joining Friloux were Mary Langford, Johnny Le, Ryan Reynolds and John Tapscott.
“It is something that, even secretly, we all want,” Langford said. “There are only five of us. This is very exclusive and very special. It is something we have been working on since middle school.”
Reynolds said senior year was the most difficult because of the challenge of balancing a senior project, course work, advanced placement classes and college applications.
He and Friloux will both be heading to Mississippi State University’s honors college next fall to study biochemistry, while Langford will enroll in the University of Mississippi’s honors college and major in communicative disorders.
Tapscott does not yet know his college destination nor his major. He’ll also have to make a decision about another trip.
When he was in middle school, his mother told him that if he became a Six-Year Rotary Scholar, she would take him on a trip anywhere in the United States.
On Monday, he made sure she remembered the deal.
“So many times, boys think it is not cool to make good grades, and the Rotary Scholar recognition is a great way to remember the importance of good grades,” said Marsha Tapscott, John’s mother.
chris.kieffer@journalinc.com