Two local high school seniors named National Achievement Scholars

Gainesville High School's Tyler Parker, right, and Eastside High's Tabong Kima, have been recognized as National Achievers. They are shown at the Gainesville Sun in Gainesville in this Friday, September 21, 2012 file photo.

Erica Brough/Staff Photographer
Published: Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 1:54 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 1:54 p.m.

Tyler Parker and Tabong Kima have always been outstanding students, their teachers say.

Their years of hard work paid off this week, when the two high schools seniors were awarded National Achievement Scholarships by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

"It feels nice," said Kima, 18. "It's an indication of hard work to get the award."

Kima, a senior at Eastside High School, and Parker, a senior at Gainesville High School, will receive a $2,500 scholarship each.

Parker also is a finalist for the National Merit Scholarship Program.

"I feel pretty rewarded now, and pretty blessed," he said.

National Achievement Scholarships are awarded to about 800 outstanding black high school seniors each year. The scholarships are funded privately by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, private corporations and professional organizations.

Since its inception 49 years ago, the National Achievement Scholarship Program has awarded about 32,600 scholarships for undergraduate study.

Parker and Kima entered the competition along with about 160,000 other students after taking the PSAT during their junior year. About 1,600 of the highest scorers on the test become semifinalists for the scholarship.

Both boys, who have been friends for about eight years, were named semifinalists in September.

Jeff Charbonnet, principal of Eastside High, said Kima's scholarship is well deserved.

"Tabong is a wonderful young man," Charbonnet said. "He's just an outstanding representative of our school and our school district. He's a bright, hard-working young man."

Kima is enrolled in the International Baccalaureate program. He's also co-captain of the varsity tennis team, president of the French Honor Society and a member of the National Honor Society. He will head to the University of Pennsylvania in the fall to study international relations and economics.

Gainesville High School Principal David Shelnutt was equally pleased with Parker's award.

"Tyler is an absolutely brilliant young man," he said. "He has worked extremely hard … I couldn't be more proud of Tyler."

At school, Parker is in the Cambridge Program, which is similarly rigorous to the IB program. He was a drum major in the GHS marching band during the last season and is now president of the politics club and vice president of the film club.

He still is deciding between Harvard University and Williams College, but he plans to study political science and economics.

"I will be following him and his wonderful accomplishments to come," Shelnutt said.

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