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Burnet, Faith seniors earn National Merit Scholarship Commended Student honors

Highland Lakes seniors earn Commended Student honors

Faith Academy of Marble Falls senior Grayson Poage and Burnet High School senior Emily Carley earned Commended Student distinctions in the 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program. Courtesy photos

Two Burnet County high school seniors earned prestigious Commended Student honors through the 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program

Burnet High School’s Emily Carley and Faith Academy of Marble Falls’ Grayson Poage are among the top 3 percent of the more than 1.5 million students who took the 2019 preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which made them eligible for the honors.

While neither will continue in the 2021 competition for the National Merit Scholarship award, educators said being recognized as Commended Students is quite an accomplishment. 

Both are well-rounded students and individuals, according to school officials. 

Burnet High School Principal Casey Burkhart said Carley excels in academics and other campus activities. She’s a member of the school’s UIL academics team, participates in the school agriculture science program, and builds props and tackles stagecraft for the theater program.

Carley is also a great person, Burkhart added.

“We are on a campus of 950 students, (and) there’s not a single student Emily wouldn’t treat just the same as her best friend ” he said. “That speaks to how she approaches life and people.”

At Faith Academy, people who know Poage aren’t surprised by his commendation, including Head of School Amy Cozby and Assistant Athletics Director Zakk Revelle. 

“He’s very focused, he is so kind,” Cozby said. “He’s such a servant, he’s involved in athletics and academics. He does his best in everything. Everything he does, he tries to improve himself.”

“First off, Grayson is the epitome of student-athlete,” said Revelle, who was Poage’s seventh-grade science teacher and is his basketball coach. “There’s not a time that I can remember where he wasn’t at the top of his class. I never had to worry about him turning anything in late. I think he deserves everything he gets.” 

Revelle added that Poage is rather stoic and stays on an even keel, no matter what’s happening around him. 

“Nothing bothers him,” Revelle said. “I think it helps him in his studies as well.”

One thing that doesn’t show up on a test is how much he cares for people, Cozby said.

“He’s someone who’s involved in the lives of his close friends,” she said. “He’s a really good mentor.”