4 top Greenville High students headed to A&M-Commerce

Greenville, TX –

It could be a first anywhere, the top three students at any high school electing to go to the same college. For sure, it's a first at Greenville High School that the valedictorian, salutatorian, and third highest academic performer are headed to A&M-Commerce. Valerie Peckham, Kendra Camblin, and Caroline Boshart will be among the first 50 students entering the new Honors College this fall. All will be receiving paid tuition, fees, room and board to A&M-Commerce, as well as one thousand dollars for books each year as part of the Honors College award.

Another Greenville High senior, Ashleigh LeBeau, is this year's recipient of the Cullen Family Foundation's Columbia Crew Memorial Scholarship. The full four-year scholarship and award, worth an estimated 40 thousand dollars, were established in memory of the space shuttle Columbia astronauts who died four years ago when their spacecraft broke up during re-entry over northeast Texas. Brian Cullen is a pioneer of laser radar systems and Barbara Cullen is a former student at A&M-Commerce.

Here are the full news releases from A&M-Commerce. First, the top three academic performers at Greenville High headed to the Honors College:

The top three students at Greenville High School will be among the first 50 students entering the new Texas A&M University-Commerce Honors College this fall. This is the first time that all three of the top achievers in the graduating class at the Greenville school will be attending A&M-Commerce.

Valedictorian Valerie Peckham, salutatorian Kendra Camblin, and Caroline Boshart, who will receive their high school diplomas on Saturday, May 26, will all be receiving paid tuition, fees, room and board to A&M-Commerce, as well as $1,000 for books each year as part of the Honors College award. The students, who were accepted into the Honors College for their high academic achievement following a selection interview, will be taking honors-only work for 30 of their 120 requirements towards an undergraduate degree. They will be writing a thesis and presenting their work at conferences. Because of the high academic level of the work they will be producing, they are also more likely to be able to select which university they will attend as graduates.

"These are three great kids," says Heath Jarvis, assistant principal at Greenville High. "We are very proud of them. They have excelled throughout high school not just academically, but in every group and activity where they participated. I believe they will be very successful in whatever they choose to major in."

Peckham is planning to major in history, and dreams of becoming a historical fiction writer, but is also intrigued by archaeology. Camblin will be studying chemistry and plans to go into cancer research, while Boshart will major in biology to pursue a career in physical therapy. The Greenville students are not concerned about taking more advanced course work. "The classes are going to be smaller and we will be getting the one-on-one attention seldom found anymore," says Boshart. "The main kicker about the Honors College is that it is paid for, so it's a good deal for me and for my parents. Both of them graduated from A&M-Commerce, as well as three siblings, and there are three more to follow." "I didn't realize how many people I know are going to A&M-Commerce, but it's going to be really good to meet new people, too," says Peckham, who will be sharing an apartment with Camblin, while Boshart will be living opposite them. "I'm very excited and really looking forward to it. Because we are going to be staying together we are going to be able to help each other outside of the classroom, too."

All of the students in the Honors College will be living in the same apartment complex for their freshman year. A drill team officer for two years and editor of the GHS yearbook, Camblin considered going to other universities in Texas but decided to join the first group of students in the Honors College. Taking the same courses with a group of students, having an opportunity to study with them, and living together appealed to Camblin. "The fact it's paid for just adds to it. This was just one of those things you can't pass up, plus it's close to home," said the GHS salutatorian whose sister, Kalina Collier, earned her degree in psychology from A&M-Commerce earlier this month.

Dr. Raymond Green, who heads up the Honors College at A&M-Commerce, is excited by the overwhelming interest that has been shown throughout Texas and beyond. He has rolled out the red carpet for the Honors College students. "I could talk to these students every day of my life," says Green. "These are top-caliber kids who are incredibly bright and motivated. They say, 'I don't want to take that course because it's too easy, I want to be in calculus.' "If you will soon be a freshman and are one of the top students in Texas, you should consider joining the A&M-Commerce Honors College. While it will be academic and intellectually challenging, it will also include field trips to places like the Dallas Museum of Art, and we will encourage our students to join outdoor adventure excursions sponsored by the Morris Recreation Center to places like the Grand Canyon. "We are going to do everything we can to see that our students succeed," Green said.

The ultimate goal of the A&M-Commerce Honors College expects to have about 200 students participating each year. As part of the Honors College, students will all be housed together in accommodation offering a swimming pool, 24-hour coffee bar and computer room, gym, game room, and big-screen lounge area. Each apartment is fully equipped with a kitchen and washer and dryer hookups. The Honors College Office will be housed in the same apartment block. "The school counselor at Greenville High School has done an amazing job," says Green. "Their students have come ready to interview for the Honors College in a mature and professional way. "Overall, we are delighted with the caliber of the students who have applied for the A&M-Commerce Honors College. These are the very best students."

And the news release of the the Cullen Family Foundation's Columbia Crew Memorial Scholarship:

Ashleigh LeBeau, a senior at Greenville High School is the 2007 recipient of the prestigious Cullen Family Foundation's Columbia Crew Memorial Scholarship and Award and will be attending Texas A&M University-Commerce this fall. The full four-year scholarship and award, worth an estimated $40,000, were established in memory of the seven Space Shuttle Columbia astronauts who were lost when their spacecraft broke up during re-entry over Northeast Texas in 2003. Brian and Barbara Cullen established the scholarship as a lasting tribute to the Space Shuttle Columbia crew and as an inspiration to students who are committed to the pursuit of excellence in education and who dare to dream. Brian Cullen, a pioneer of laser radar systems, a leader in the aerospace industry, and his wife Barbara, a former student at A&M-Commerce, are delighted with Ashleigh's award, "We wish Ashleigh everything of the very best and hope that she will make the most of this opportunity to benefit herself and the community." "The scholarship is also a way for us to say thanks to the Greenville community for accepting us with open arms when we moved here," the Cullen's explain, "and we wanted to pay tribute to the people of E--Systems and L-3 Communications who have impressed us so much over the years with their commitment to accomplishing whatever goal is before them. And, since A&M Commerce is the apex of education in the area, we wanted to tie the scholarship to the university so that the best and brightest from the area could be encouraged to stay close to home while getting a great education."

"I am looking forward to meeting the Cullen Family so that I can say thank you to them in person," said Ashleigh, who is the first recipient of the scholarship from Greenville High. "I'm so excited and my parents are very proud." Until recently, Ashleigh was intending to study finance but through working at the Intermediate School library she realized her passion lay in working with young children. She intends to study elementary education at A&M-Commerce. "I like being able to touch children's lives and to brighten up their day. My mother is a teacher and I've seen the way she has been able to help people. She has inspired me by her example. I think teaching will be a very rewarding profession," said Ashleigh.

Ashleigh's dream of being a teacher will help fulfill the dream of Space Shuttle Columbia Pilot William McCool, "Most of what we're doing is enabling technology for the future. And the folks who are going to use that technology and then continue the wheels turning are the children today." Ashleigh submitted an essay in which she said, "I feel it is part of a teacher's job to keep the dream alive of becoming an astronaut, and further the exploration of outer space." She related how she would support the space program by engaging her students' interest in the program through projects in the classroom that would, for example, discuss how to survive in space and comparing it to survival on earth. Ashleigh also proposed extra-curricular activities like a visit to NASA or the A&M-Commerce Planetarium.

Greenville High School Head Principal Don Jefferies says, "Ashleigh is a deserved winner of the Columbia Crew Scholarship, and she will do an excellent job at A&M-Commerce." A member of the National Honor Society and selected for Who's Who Among American High School Students, Ashleigh is in the top 10 percent of her class. As a cheerleader she has participated in Clothe-a-Child, Angel Tree, Drug Free Greenville, Greenville Trash Off, and volunteered with St. Jude's Math-a-thon and as a math tutor. "I really enjoyed cheerleading," she said, "but now I am going to be focusing on academics."