HVA’s 470 grads set school record for scholarship $ total

Knox County Schools superintendent Bob Thomas presents a diploma to Hardin Valley Academy salutatorian John Klett during HVA’s commencement exercises in UT’s Thompson-Boling Arena Wednesday, May 16.
KNOXVILLE — Hardin Valley Academy’s 470 graduating seniors walked across the stage in UT’s Thompson-Boling Arena Wednesday, May 16, ready for their chosen paths — college for some and military service for others.

Of the graduating class, 103 concentrated their studies in liberal arts academy; 164 in science, technology, engineering and mathematics; 82 in business, law and public affairs; and 121 in health sciences.

Since HVA opened its doors in 2008, assistant principal George Ashe said its students have been awarded more than $140 million in scholarships.

“This year, the seniors have been offered the largest amount of scholarships in the school’s 10-year history,” he added. “The total amount of scholarships offered to the Class of 2018 is $25,502,169.

“And, 90 percent of the class is pursuing post-secondary education or enlisting in the military. Guys, that’s what happens when you strap in and get your learn on.”

While HVA principal Sallee Reynolds gave a lesson in “the ABCs” during her address: accept others as they are and accept “your successes with grace and shortcomings with humility; believe in something that shakes your being;” and communicate less with electronic devices and more eye-to-eye.

One group of students received a standing ovation after assistant principal David Combs announced students would build their future “through serving of others via the military.

“By enlisting directly in the military services, these students are postponing their immediate college pursuits to serve the greater good,” he added.

Those graduates are Caden Hibbert and Andrew Hofmann, U.S. Marine Corps; Mahlon Holt and Pacey Johnson, U.S. Army; Jacob Masters and Aiden Oakley, U.S. Navy; Bralen Jackson, U.S. Naval Reserves; and Dylan Howell, U.S. Air National Guard.

“Some of these young men and women could not be with us this evening because they were already starting their pursuits,” Combs said.

A handful of graduates fulfilled leadership roles and reached lofty goals.

Kenya-Lee Sloan received the coveted Hawk Award; Ryan Hart, with a 4.5294 grade-point average, was named valedictorian; John Klett, with a 4.5156 GPA, was named salutatorian.

Max Fleischbacker was recognized for writing a concert piece, “Celebration of a New Dawn,” that HVA Orchestra, directed by Peggy Jones, performed during the commencement exercises.

During her address, Sloan challenged fellow graduates to “choose to” believe in themselves and love others. Graduate Kylie Mackenzie Bowman advised during her address, “We are limited when we think we can work by ourselves. Whatever you achieve on your own is only eclipsed by what you can do with others.”