CHS senior named finalist for U.S. scholars program

By CHRISTY ARMSTRONG

Posted 12/26/17

An academically talented Cleveland High School student has been named a state finalist for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. CHS senior Brian Byerly is just one of 20 students statewide …

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CHS senior named finalist for U.S. scholars program

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An academically talented Cleveland High School student has been named a state finalist for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. 

CHS senior Brian Byerly is just one of 20 students statewide being considered for the program, which was established by executive order of the president in 1964 to recognize the country’s top high school seniors. 

 “We are so proud of Brian,” said CHS Principal Autumn O’Bryan. “He has taken advantage of our most rigorous courses to prepare him for advanced study after high school.  I am certain this is one of many recognitions he will receive this year."

Nominees were selected based on academic achievement, leadership skills, community involvement, ability to overcome obstacles and strong writing skills. Each public high school could nominate up to two students to become state finalists. 

As one of 20 state finalists from Tennessee, Byerly is now waiting to see if he will move on to receive a national honor. In  February, the U.S. Department of Education will select two students from each state to be named U.S. Presidential Scholars. 

“I have always tried to do my best in school,” Byerly said. “It’s always rewarding to see some of the fruits of your hard work." 

Byerly is no stranger to academic achievement. He has also been named a National Merit Semifinalist and an AP Scholar with Distinction. He balances his studies with his role as the 2017-18 student liaison to the Cleveland Board of Education, and running on CHS’s cross country and track teams. 

He noted it would be a nice opportunity to be named a U.S. Presidential Scholar. Students chosen for this honor will receive an expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., in June and are presented the U.S. Presidential Scholars medallion at a ceremony sponsored by the White House. 

During their visit to Washington, they will also have access to important national and international figures, including government officials, educators, authors, musicians, scientists and other accomplished people. Scholars will also “wrestle with issues that concern America and the world; attend recitals, receptions and ceremonies held in their honor; and visit area museums and monuments.”

The 18-year-old noted it can be “very stressful” to balance multiple AP classes with other commitments. However, he pointed out that staying committed to academic achievement is a choice. 

“You just push through it and enjoy the moments of free time you do get,” Byerly said. “You have a goal in mind and do whatever you need to do to reach it.” 

He credits his parents, Doug and Andrea Byerly, and CHS  coach Brad Benefield with helping inspire him to work hard in high school. He added he has received “many congratulations” and words of support from other teachers and friends. 

While he waits to see if he will become a U.S. Presidential Scholar, he is working on finishing out his senior year well. He is also waiting to see where he will be going to college. 

He has been accepted to the University of Tennessee and the University of Notre Dame and is awaiting decisions from Harvard University and the University of Virginia.

His current plan is to earn a degree in history, which will be his first step toward becoming a college history professor. He explained he wants to be able to inspire other students they way teachers have inspired him over the years. He also loves how the subject of history “encompasses every part of the human experience” and teaches lessons we can use today. 

Byerly said he recognizes achieving his goals will require more hard work, but this runner does not plan to slow down any time soon.

“Succeeding at this level is not easy. It’s something that I consistently work at,” Byerly said. “But you should never slow down in the pursuit of truth.” 

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