Over 300 high school juniors have been recognized as some of the county’s highest-achieving students, and were honored at Cherokee County School District’s annual Key Scholar Recognition Ceremony on Feb. 26.

At the ceremony at Cherokee High School, 318 Key Scholars were recognized for their scores achieved on the Practice SAT (PSAT).

“You are here this evening because you rank in the top 10% of students in the Nation,” Superintendent Brian Hightower told the students. “That is a major accomplishment, one for which you, your families and your teachers should be very proud. As academic leaders, you have the potential to continue distinguishing yourselves as high school seniors, in your college pursuits and, eventually, in your chosen careers.”

The Key Scholar Program is a districtwide academic recognition plan that begins in elementary school, when select students qualify for the nationally recognized Duke University TIP Talent Identification Program. These students are recognized by their school at the end of the year. Eligible middle school students then have the opportunity to take the PSAT through the Duke program, getting a head start on college-entrance exam preparation that usually begins in high school.

High school freshmen scoring at the 80th percentile or above and sophomores scoring at the 85th percentile or above on the PSAT receive a certificate at their school’s year-end awards ceremonies.

Students recognized Wednesday as Key Scholars are juniors whose PSAT scores from their sophomore or junior year rank in the top 10% nationwide. Each student was congratulated by Hightower and school board members, received an embroidered “Key Scholar” letter-jacket patch, and enjoyed a reception with their families and principal. They will be recognized again at their school’s year-end awards ceremony.

The final step in the program is National Merit Scholars, who are selected during students’ senior year. These students wear a National Merit Scholar gold medallion as they walk across the stage with their peers for graduation.

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