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Belton ISD Students Recognized for Achievement on AP Exams

COVID-19 may have caused schools to close their doors last spring, but it didn’t stop Belton ISD students from scoring top marks on their AP exams.

The district is celebrating 114 students this week who were recognized by the College Board for college-level achievement as demonstrated by their performance on multiple AP exams taken in May 2020. The students earned 125 awards collectively.

“When the results came back from the AP testing, it was as if the teachers and the students did not skip a beat,” said Tiffany Sommerfeld, director of academic advising and counseling. “The results were just as great as they were in previous years, and in some courses such as chemistry, calculus and economics - they were even better.”

The College Board recognizes students each year in four progressively prestigious categories: AP Scholar, AP Scholar with Honor, AP Scholar with Distinction and National AP Scholar.

Sommerfeld said teachers sprang into action when COVID-19 interrupted the spring semester in Belton ISD and no one returned to classrooms after spring break. 

“The teachers had to incorporate a mind shift in the way they taught their classes so the students had a somewhat seamless experience for the second semester,” she said. “On the student side, they were accustomed to face-to-face instruction and all of a sudden, they were going straight to remote learning.”

For Jenalee Phang, now a senior at Belton High School, navigating this shift  was a challenge.

“Studying and working hard in six AP classes amidst the craziness of COVID was very difficult,” she said. “Adapting to at-home learning was hard and staying motivated was harder. Earning this recognition feels so rewarding. I stayed up late most nights studying. Receiving this award just solidifies the fact that it all paid off.”

Phang also credits her teachers for their resilience during the pandemic.

“Teaching and preparing students for a single test that could possibly result in college credit is hard enough,” she said. “Then adding the craziness and unique online experiences of COVID … I can’t fathom how difficult it was, but the teachers did a very good job of teaching, preparing and sharing study tools. My teachers truly went above and beyond, exceeding all expectations I had during COVID.”

As the pandemic lingered, teachers and students were also met with changes to the way the exam was structured and administered. 

Usually, Sommerfeld said, the exams consist of a combination of multiple choice questions and essays. Last spring, the exams were exclusively writing and were conducted completely online and in a remote setting.

“Not all students had the access needed to complete the exam, but Belton ISD and the College Board assisted with providing the devices and WiFi necessary for our students to complete the process,” Sommerfeld said. 

Phang said taking the test from home, with a new format, was harder than she expected.

“Yes, it was nice to take it in the comfort of my bed, in my pajamas, with all of my notes and study guides, and a Starbucks coffee in hand,” she said. “But it was all so different and confusing. The AP exams this year were probably some of the hardest and most stressful tests I’ve taken - and they were even open-note!”

Belton ISD had more students than ever before take AP exams in May - 1,071 students in total. All of the students honored by The College Board earned scores that make them eligible to receive college credit.

Sommerfeld applauds the students and the district’s AP teachers for the success. Both groups, she said, persevered through the semester’s challenges.

“The teachers rallied together to ensure success for our students, and the students embraced the challenge,” Sommerfeld said. “This is a true testament to the dedication and hard work our teachers have for providing exceptional learning experiences for the students at Belton ISD, that not even a global pandemic could keep down.”

To see recognition photos from the September Board meeting, please visit https://flic.kr/s/aHsmQUhZUH. 

The following Belton ISD students received scores of 3 or higher on three or more AP Exams qualifying them as an AP Scholar

Vanessa Ake
Madden Baggerly
Annie Bailey
Emma Baker
Jackson Belobrajdic
Drew Biava
Madelyn Bradshaw
Jacob Branus
Joy Brent
Avery-Timothy Clark
Kaylee Combest
Elle Corsi
Abigail Davis
Emma Day
Steven Ellis
Rhett England
Alex Flory
Samuel Foreman
Karla Frias
Flize Galliett
Isaac Gish
Anthony Grullon
Braxton Harrison
Donatella Hoti
Simon Howe
Tyler Huard
Skylar Jarnagin
Michael Jones
Ryan Jones
Abbey Karcher
Joseph Knox
Thea Lancaster
Grace Leinart
Piper Magowan 
Hailey Medina
Gwyneth Mejia
Brendall O’Banon
Shivangi Ojha
Kendall Olson
Mycah Page
Chase Perry
Jenalee Phang
Grace Pohl
Luke Read
Ethan Rodriguez
Caroline Rowe
Gwyneth Sachsenmaier
Natalie Scammell
Brady Shadrick
Jacob Sinkwich
Christian Thames
Johnathan Thompson
Tawny Turner
Ethan Wong
Micha Zajicek 

The following Belton ISD students received an average score of at least 3.25 on all AP Exams taken and scores of 3 or higher on four or more of these exams qualifying them as an AP Scholar with Honor:

Coltan Beaird
Benjamin Broom
Ryan Carpio-Brown
Miranda Davila
Nathan Fife
Nicholas Garcia
Austin Krueger
Benjamin LaMotte
Ekan Malik
Caroline Moehlenbrock
Carol Paleti
Christian Rogers
Shannon Snow
Nick Sullivan
Evan Taylor
Luke Thomas
Madeline Vacula
Kaylin Vergara
Julia Wagner
Cade Wenberg

The following Belton ISD students received an average score of at least 3.5 on all AP Exams taken and scores of 3 or higher on five or more of these exams qualifying them as an AP Scholar with Distinction:

Sylvia Asuncion-Crabb
Doye Baker
Dean Biava
Joshua Bledsoe
Mitchell Bonner
Bridgette Burdine
Nicholas Cipolla
Madison Farwell
Molly Feldner
Grace Fothergill
Emily Freemyer
Guatam Ghamande
Kobe Gillians
Gabriela Hansen
Francesca Higgins
Karianne Hosch
Emma Howard
Sydney Hunt
Jehbar Nino Ibarra
Jonah Jimenez
Alexis Kaer
Kaitlin Kunz
Tyler McDonald 
Angela Medina
Kylan Menapace
Elizabeth Moctezuma-Mansanero
Kyra Moore
Dinithi Navarathna
Aryan Ojha
Emma-Le Olsen
Jamey Pearson
Brookelyn Pyle
Jackson Rahm
Sonaya Rason 
Ethan Taylor
Gayathri Thirunavukkaras
Daniel Torres-Rivera
Zane Williams
Euni Wu

The following Belton ISD students were also recognized as a National AP Scholar for receiving an average score of at least 4 on all AP Exams taken, and scores of 4 or higher on eight or more of these exams.

Doye Baker
Dean Biava
Joshua Bledsoe
Guatam Ghamande
Sydney Hunt
Jehbar Nino Ibarra
Alexis Kaer
Jamey Pearson
Ethan Taylor
Gayathri Thirunavukkaras
Euni Wu