Liberty Top Seniors
Rishi Kondapaneni and Mike Coyle receive top recognition
April 17, 2019
Senior Mike Coyle is named on Missouri Scholars 100 list
Senior Mike Coyle sounds like a rarity on paper, with an ACT score of 35, a 4.52 GPA, is the current Technology-Student Association (TSA) president, Varsity Scholar Bowl Co-Captain, CAD Co-Captain and Strategy lead for the Ratchet Rockers Robotics Team, is an AP Scholar with Distinction, ranked first among the class of 2019, is currently enrolled in multiple weighted courses, volunteers his time as a tutor and a mentor and is bound to study physics and chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania. However, as unreal as all of Coyle’s resume sounds, he has recently also added Missouri Scholars 100 to his already impressive repertoire.
“A couple of weeks ago, sometime in February, Ms. Gerringer gave me an application for Scholars 100,” Coyle said. “She told me she gets one application for the senior class every year, so I filled it out, I submitted it and a couple weeks ago, probably two or three, I got something back in the mail that I’d been named one of the Missouri Scholars 100.”
Coyle is the first Liberty student to receive this distinction, which is presented by the Missouri Association of Secondary School Principals.
In order to become one of the state’s 100 most accomplished high school scholars, students must apply and meet certain academic requirements in order to join the cream of the crop.
All students who are nominated to become a Missouri Scholar must meet the “Academic Decathlon” requirements which are comprised of 10 “events” or qualifications. Such qualifications include a minimum GPA of 3.75, a minimum ACT score of 29, a top 10% class rank, enrollment in upper-level courses, good attendance and heavy school activity involvement.
In addition to the many requirements of becoming a Missouri Scholar, all students were required to write an essay over a community service that they’ve completed.
And in checking off all of the criteria, the witnesses to Coyle’s work ethic not only describe him as hardworking but motivated as well.
“Always curious to know more,” Dr. Deatherage said of Coyle. “Like he’ll often ask questions beyond like, ‘How does this thing relate to this thing we’ve already done?’”
Deatherage, however, does not only observe Coyle’s work in class, she is also a sponsor and mentor for the same robotics team Coyle serves as CAD Co-Captain and Strategy lead on.
“Absolutely non-stop. Does not take a break,” senior Maya Angeles, who has also collaborated with Coyle on the robotics team, described him.
And non-stop are the correct words as Coyle gears to head off and graduate with the class of 2019 and attend UPenn in the fall. But as for Coyle, the inspiration behind his motivation relates to his past as a student and the future of the others around him.
“Setting an example for my younger brother and my younger sister and really, all the younger kids at Liberty,” Coyle said. “I was not a motivated kid, especially in the first year of high school, but then I kind of found my stride. So doing what I do now I’m hoping that somebody, a kid like me, will look up and be like, ‘Hey, that’s what I should be trying to do.’”
The National Merit Scholar
Rishi Kondapaneni has been awarded a prestigious scholarship
It’s no surprise to anyone that knows senior Rishi Kondapaneni, that he has achieved so much academically. Kondapaneni was named as a finalist for the National Merit Scholarship earlier this year.
Finalists represent less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors, and have the opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $32 million. Kondapaneni was the only Liberty student to be named as a finalist. Jasper Pendino from Holt was the only other Wentzville School District student to receive this.
“This is definitely a big deal for me, its opened up a lot of opportunities,” Kondapaneni said.
PSAT stands for the Preliminary SAT, which is the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. The PSAT tests math and evidence-based reading and writing. Kondapaneni’s first college choice, University of Florida, awarded him the scholarship through the program.
“I totally didn’t know it existed, my dad actually told me ‘Hey you should take the PSAT.’ and I was like why?… And he says ‘well there’s actually this scholarship you could get if you take it.’ And I didn’t really care much about it because it was just like another standardized test but, then I scored well and it opened up a lot of opportunities and I’m really thankful for it.”
After stumbling upon the PSAT, a year and a half later Kondapaneni got a letter and a certificate letting him know what he just achieved.
“I was like ‘nice cool lol’ cause I don’t really care much about things,” Kondapaneni said, referring to his reaction when finding out that he received the National Merit Scholarship.
“He has always excelled in academics, I think that’s obvious to any teacher that has had him,” Mrs. Strathman said, who is his HOSA advisor.
Now he has the scholarship to prove it. Kondapaneni, scored a 1480 out of 1520 on the PSAT, just in case you were interested – that’s 40 points away from the perfect score.
“It’s very easy to get the scholarship, the hard part is just taking the PSAT, because you’re competing with people around the nation…it’s really important to study hard for the PSAT because it’s the first step and the hardest step,” Kondapaneni said.
Although this may seem braggadocious, there is a point to this; that point being that yes though academics may come easy to Kondapaneni, anyone can take the PSAT and could be the next recipient of the prestigious scholarship, required they put in the hard work.