Eighth Grader Emma Hermacinski Earns National High School Scholarship

The Institute for Educational Advancement (IEA) has announced that Emma Hermacinski of Sycamore School in Indianapolis is one of 28 award recipients of the Caroline D. Bradley Scholarship, a four-year high school scholarship for gifted learners to attend an optimally matched high school program to help them meet their unique intellectual and personal needs. 
 
Emma, an 8th grader who has attended Sycamore since preschool, is the daughter of Jay and Cara Hermacinski of Zionsville.
 
The program, which began in 2002 and is generously funded by The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, is one of the few merit-based, need-blind scholarships of its kind in the U.S.
 
“Emma possesses a sense of self that the likes of Walt Whitman would thunderously applaud,” said Jamie MacDougall, Sycamore’s Head of Middle School. “She knows herself from the most base-atomic sense and is able to perpetually work to process how the bits of her are connected to the ever-changing world around her.”
 
To date, IEA has awarded 263 scholarships to gifted learners.
 
“We felt Emma had many of the qualities they look for in a Caroline D. Bradley scholar,” Emma mom, Cara, said. “They want someone who displays a genuine quest for knowledge, thrives in the discovery process, and embraces the ideals of integrity and honesty. I know we could never have gotten to this place without Sycamore School.  Year after year, the teachers believed in her.  They challenged her.  And they allowed her to grow at her own pace.  And for that, we will be eternally grateful.”
 
Students apply for the Caroline D. Bradley Scholarship in the seventh grade and are required to complete a rigorous application process, which includes essays, middle school transcripts, two recommendations and a work sample. Eligible applicants must also achieve scores at or above the 97th percentile on nationally normed standardized tests and score competitively with high school seniors on the SAT Reasoning or ACT tests.
 
 “It was a lot of work applying for this scholarship,” Emma said. “I had to write essays, turn in a sample of student work, and take the ACT.” 
 
After turning in her application in  February, Hermacinski had to wait until early summer before learning that she had become a finalist.  Her final interview was in August in Cincinnati. 
 
Three regional Selection Committees were tasked with choosing 55 finalists out of a pool of 386 applicants. This was the largest pool of applicants in the program’s history.
 
Over the course of the next several months, IEA staff, current CDB Scholars and CDB alumni will provide guidance and assistance to the entering class of 2017 Scholars as they begin to identify potential high school programs, comple applications, and prepare their individualized educational plan for next year.  Emma has not yet decided on her high school choice.
 
“To continue that thriving process of growth, Emma needs to be immersed in a group of peers who possess the passion and potency of thought, palpable persistence, and the fierce urgency of now,” MacDougall says. “I whole-heartedly believe that being a part of the Caroline D. Bradley Scholars will afford her that exact opportunity to build on the base she has solidified at Sycamore.”
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