By Leila Beem Núñez, Editor
One recent weekend, teachers, administrators and parents from all across Tennessee gathered at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville for the annual conference of the Tennessee Association for the Gifted, with over 250 in attendance including national representatives.
One of Manchester’s own was not only present, but was awarded with the association’s Gifted Student of the Year Award. Kasen Holt, Westwood Middle School eighth-grader, received the honor for her age group.
The award is presented each year to a student who has shown accomplishment in one or more of the areas of visual or performing arts, academic achievement, creativity or leadership, according to Anne Rucker, president of TAG.
Holt said when her teacher, Mary Lee Merritt-Boyd, said she and other teachers had nominated Holt for the award, she didn’t know what to say. Holt was chosen as Manchester City Schools’ one student nomination, she said.
“I didn’t go in thinking that I’d win,” Holt said, smiling. “I went in with hopes, but apparently [my category] was sixth to 12th grade, so I didn’t think I’d get in as an eighth-grader.”
Holt was chosen due to her high grade point average and her involvement in her school’s honors program, as well as for extracurriculars. Holt is an active member of her school’s chapter of BETA Club, a national organization whose mission it is to promote character, academic achievement and service, and she last year ran and won for a state-level position in the club. Holt is also on her school’s basketball team and volunteers locally, helping with charity events, among other things. Holt’s selection was also based on an essay she wrote as part of the contest.
Holt’s mother, Karen Holt, said the family considers it a great honor.
“We couldn’t be more proud. Of course, we’re proud of both of our kids,” she said, looking at her younger daughter, Karis. “But when you get a recognition like this, it’s really special.”
Holt is humble about having received her award, but said she is proud of herself as well.
“I just feel honored,” she said. “I’m just really grateful that I could accomplish this at this young age.”