Tupelo High School Rotary Scholars 2020 are, front row, from left: Erin Matthews, Carrol Trent Imbler, Rachel Frick; second row: Alyssa Brohawn, Lydia Asters, Elijah Smart, Maury Johnston, Hannah Bradford; and third row: Coltin Milner, Luke Losordo, Taylor Chapman, Bob Leake and Nathan Keen.

TUPELO • The Rotary Club of Tupelo recognized 13 senior Rotary Scholars on Wednesday who have earned the honor every year since seventh grade.

The honorees are typically invited to a luncheon in April, but that was not possible this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead, the six-year scholars received a commemorative plaque and posed for photographs on Tupelo High School’s football field Wednesday morning.

The club also honored the 2020 six-year scholars with an electronic billboard at Crosstown, which was designed by Lamar Advertising.

Thirty Rotary Scholars are selected from each class, from seventh through 12th grade, based on their grade point average. There were five ties this year, making 185 total scholars in the district, according to Rotary Club President Ron Ashby.

Eli Smart, who will be majoring in biochemistry at Mississippi State University, said he appreciated all that THS has done to make sure seniors can celebrate their achievements.

Smart said that as a student, he didn’t focus on earning the award but instead focused on learning.

“School itself is the prize, what you know, and not just this. But this is nice,” Smart said, referring to the plaque he received.

Taylor Chapman, who will be majoring in pre-med at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said it took many all-nighters and hours of studying to become a six-year Rotary Scholar.

“It was definitely a lot of effort, especially in my seventh and eighth grade years simply because it was a difficult time of life coupled with the amount of work I had to put in to reach this spot,” Chapman said. “But as the years went on, it got easier to keep this level of effort going.”

Alyssa Brohawn, who will be majoring in biomedical engineering at the University of Mississippi, said it meant a lot to her to be able to come back to campus on Wednesday.

“I think when we first heard about the COVID-19 situation, a lot of us didn’t really believe that it would progress so much and develop into what it has,” Brohawn said. “And so it was very abrupt when we were told that we just wouldn’t be coming back at all.”

She appreciated the efforts by administrators, faculty and the Rotary Club to make sure the scholars were still recognized during the pandemic.

“You can tell that they really care about us and know that we deserve this,” Brohawn said.

Here’s a full list of the six-year scholars:

Lydia Asters

Hannah Bradford

Alyssa Brohawn

Taylor Chapman

Rachel Frick

Carrol Trent Imbler

Maury Johnston

Nathan Keen

Robert Leake

Luke Losordo

Erin Matthews

Sean Milner

Elijah Smart

Twitter: @AlsupTheWriter

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