Penn honors Class of 2024 at Senior Recognition Night

Posted on May 16, 2024

Penn High School will hold its 2024 Commencement Ceremony at Notre Dame’s Purcell Pavilion on Monday, June 3, at 7 p.m. The event will celebrate the graduation of 854 members of the Class of 2024.

On Wednesday, May 15, the Penn Faculty, P-H-M Administrators and members of the Board of School Trustees gathered with graduating seniors and their families to celebrate the accomplishments of the Class of 2024 at the annual Senior Recognition Night. The event recognizes the academic success that members of the Senior Class have achieved recognizing them for awards, honors and scholarships that they’ve earned for graduation.

Awards conferred at Senior Recognition included academic excellence, leadership, service to school and community, citizenship, attendance, athletic accomplishments and a whole host of other accomplishments. The majority of these awards are recognized in this web story.

A Photo Gallery is posted below.

Many students were recognized for winning private scholarships during the program. So far the Class of 2024 graduates have earned approximately nearly $16 million in scholarships! This number will continue to grow as notifications for private scholarships continue to come in over the summer months. We encourage students to notify the Penn Counseling Office of all your scholarships, even after you’ve graduated; it helps us measure the success of our graduates.

The 2024 graduating class is the fourth class to receive recognition through the Latin Honors System:

  • A total of 39 students will graduate Summa Cum Laude, with the highest praise, by earning an Academic Honors diploma with a GPA greater than 4.25.
  • A total of 117 students will graduate Magna Cum Laude, with high praise, by earning an Academic Honors diploma with a GPA greater than 4.0. 
  • A total of 113 students will graduate Cum Laude,with praise, with a GPA greater than 3.75.

A total of 442 students in the Class of 2024 are graduating with an Academic Honors diploma! To be eligible for an Academic Honors Diploma, students must accumulate a minimum of 47 credits in a prescribed curriculum and have a grade point average of 3.0.

A total of 325 students in the Class of 2024 are graduating with High Honors! These students have maintained a 3.5 grade point average or above for the first seven semesters of high school study.

The Core 40 with Technical Honors diploma is awarded to students who complete professional internships and or college courses in a technical area. A total of 72 students are graduating with Technical Honors.

The Class of 2024 is the seventh cohort of the Early College Academy. A total of 119 students are graduating from Early College. An impressive 96 are graduating with an Associate’s Degree through the Early College Academy!

Principal’s Excellence Award

The Penn High School Principal’s Academic Excellence Award was presented to eight seniors based upon academic excellence and overall achievement: Caleb Burns, Thomas Galiher, Amrit Kaur, Ashtyn Martens, Clarissa Schmitt, Aayan Siddiqi, Muhammad Sualeh and Chelsea Zou.

Principal’s Leadership Award

The Principal’s Leadership Award is presented annually to students who contribute their talent, time, energy, and motivation to the leadership of Penn’s student body. Ashley Mead and Noah Schafer were honored for helping to make a difference in the culture of Penn on behalf of their classmates.

Principal’s Citizenship and Service Award

The Principal’s Citizenship and Service Award was presented to eight Penn High School students who have selflessly donated many hours to make sure that Penn High School is well represented in whatever service project they are involved in. The winners of the 2024 Principal’s Citizenship and Service Award were Zoe Bishop, Lana Ealdama, Elizabeth Eshowsky, Joshua Jankowski, Selma Imamovic, Sarah Mead, Cameron Poznanski and Camden Stout.

The Class of 2024 boasts 21 valedictorians.

This year’s valedictorians include: Mia Aboukhaled, Shayan Asafuddaula, Joel Bell, Owen Black, Henry Gillin, Lillian Gregory, Caroline Johnson, Suzana Josenhans, Bohdan Kolomiiets, Erini Mattheos, Aadil Qasim, Bella Schaetzle, Connor Schmitt, Jaden Shim, Ella Smoker, David Son, Jayden Wang, Lillian Weiss, Audrey Wise, Michelle Yuan and Felix Zhang.

This year, Penn has four salutatorians: Anika Amin, Maria Goffinet, Rhea Rakhra, Landon Sears.

The U.S. Presidential Scholars program was established in 1964 to recognize and honor some of our nation’s most distinguished graduating high school seniors.  Each year, from nearly 3.6 million graduating high school seniors, over 5,200 students are identified as candidates in this program.  620 semi-finalists are identified nationwide and advance to the final round.  Of the semi-finalists, up to 161 students are named as Presidential Scholars, one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students.  Scholars have all demonstrated leadership, scholarship, and contribution to school and community. Penn has four students who are considered candidates for this program: Owen Black, Suzana Josenhans, Jayden Wang, Felix Zhang.

National Merit Finalists

This year 14 Penn High School students designated as National Merit Semi-finalists based upon their high PSAT scores have ALSO been named National Merit Finalists. These students advanced to Finalist standing in the Merit Scholarship competitionby demonstrating, through distinguished performance, high potential for future academic accomplishment. They are in the top 1% of all students in the country and eligible for one of the 8,000 scholarships to be awarded this spring. Penn’s 2024 National Merit Finalists are: Owen Black, Lillian Gregory, Lily Meyer, Olivia Nijim, Noah Schafer, Connor Schmitt, Jayden Wang, Feliz Zhang.

The following National Merit Finalists also received a scholarship from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation: Owen Black, Lillian Gregory, Noah Schafer, Connor Schmitt, Felix Zhang.

Nine students received recognition from the College Board and were awarded National Merit Commended Scholar of Semi-Finalist status: Shayan Asafuddalua, Joel Bell, Jacob Ciliberti, Henry Gillin, Maria Goffinet, Caroline Johnson, Joseph Kline, Greta Lannon, Sera McClain, Aiden Page, Jaden Shim, Aidan Shoemaker, Evelyn Shrout, Lillian Weiss and Michelle Yuan.

Jayden Wang has been selected as a 2024 Regional Academic All-Star. Each Indiana high school can nominate one senior for this prestigious award. Jayden was selected and honored as one of 50 regional winners chosen by a selection committee from across the state. Awards are presented to the students and an influential educator of their choice. Jayden chose his A.P. Calculus teacher Denise White to be recognized with him.

Indiana University Wells Scholar

Connor Schmitt has been selected as a 2024 Indiana University Wells Scholar. This Scholarship is named in honor of Herman B. Wells, a former I.U. President who devoted his life to the University. The Wells Scholarship is awarded on the basis of high academic standings and test scores. It provides full tuition, academic fees, and a living expense stipend for four years of study at I.U. Bloomington. Wells Scholars may also choose to spend one year studying abroad, engaging in special leadership opportunities and/or fellowships with distinguished I.U. faculty, as well as participating in enriching summer internships.

Lilly Scholars

Bella Schaetzle and Jayden Wang were awarded the Community Foundation of Saint Joseph County Eli Lilly Endowment Scholarship based on their high academic merits and test scores. The prestigious Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship provides full tuition, required fees, required books, and equipment for four years of undergraduate study leading to a baccalaureate degree at any accredited Indiana public or private college or university. Since this award began in 1998, Penn has had 36 total Lilly Scholars which accounts for more than any other high school in the county, accounting for 25 percent of the total number of Scholars since the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County began administering this scholarship! Bella plans to attend Purdue University, and Jayden plans to attend the University of Notre Dame.

Schmucker Award

Every year since 1967, Penn’s faculty vote to recognize an outstanding member of the graduating class based on service, character and leadership; the student must also, at the end of seventh semester, be in the top 10% of their graduating class. The senior selected is awarded the Paul H. Schmucker Award in memory of the distinguished member of Penn High School faculty from 1960-1967. This year’s recipient is Layla Berry.

Kingsman of the Year

Each year, the graduating class also nominates a classmate who best exemplifies the qualities of service to his/her school community, school spirit, respect for classmates and Penn High School for the Kingsman of the Year Award. A tradition since 1970, the recipient is recognized for his/her leadership and willingness to accept challenge and is a great honor and show of respect from the recipients’ fellow classmates. The Class of 2024 Kingsman of the Year Award winner is Sarah Mead.


Every year scholarships are also awarded for the Dr. and Mrs. Jerry Thacker Scholarship and the Larry Beehler Scholarship. Dr. Jerry Thacker is Superintendent of Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation. He and his wife Mrs. Donna Thacker have handed out direct scholarships to Penn graduating seniors since 2014. Mr. Larry Beehler is a longtime member of P-H-M’s Board of School Trustees serving nearly 40 years! Students are in good standing and involved in extra-curricular activities. The awards for these scholarships are $1,000 each.

Beehler Scholarship

The 2024 recipient of the Larry Beehler Scholarship was Georgia Pogue. This scholarship is presented to a former Madison Elementary graduate. 

Dr. & Mrs. Thacker have been awarding their General Scholarship for nearly a decade. This year there were three recipients of the Dr. & Mrs. Jerry Thacker General Scholarship: Thomas Galiher, Jacob Balis and Aubrey Zachary. These students are excellent students possessing great character and serve as positive role models.  Seniors eligible for this award must be highly involved in extracurricular activities that benefit Penn High School and the community. Each student received $1,000 scholarship from Dr. and Mrs. Thacker!

Marine Corps Awards

Other private scholarships recognized during Senior Night:

  • The United States Marine Corps awarded the following three awards to Penn graduates:
    • Lilly Meyer received the United States Marine Corps Semper Fidelis Award.This award is presented based upon exemplary musical efforts, academics and outstanding character. The Marine Corps Musical Organization was formed in 1793. The Marine Corp realizes that there would be no Marine Band without the efforts of dedicated young musicians.
    • Gage Goralski and Gabby Safeukui Noubissi were each recognized with a U.S. Marine Corps Distinguished Athlete Award.The Marines recognize that the foundation for good physical fitness is developed through high school athletics in addition to good training habits. High school student-athletes are well aware of teamwork and discipline, two important elements of the Marine Corps. This award represents students’ who have distinguished themselves in athletics.
    • Landon Sears won the United States Marine Scholastic Excellence Award, which recognizes a student for academic achievement and leadership. The student has shown the greatest determination in the pursuit of his/her studies and has inspired others to excel.
  • Zion Brown was awarded the Navy ROTC Scholarship. The scholarship provides full tuition, stipends, summer training cruises to train exceptional students for the Navy’s future fleet.
  • The Hazel Dell Neff Smelser Scholarship was awarded to Natalia McCool. The scholarship is for students planning on studying music, specifically piano, voice, violin, or other orchestra instrument. This scholarship is renewable each year of college and based on continued academic achievement and financial need.
  • The Band Booster Scholarship requires a Minimum of 3 years enrollment in the band curriculum, letter of recommendation from a music director and in depth essay. Caleb Cameron and Anna Murphy were selected as the 2024 Band Booster Scholarship recipients.
  • C. LaMar Holaway was a lifelong educator, who prided himself with the accomplishments of the young people he taught. Mr. Holaway started his career at Penn High School in 1964. His choirs that he directed thrilled audiences with their annual concerts and state competitions, along with national and international performances. Mr. Holaway was instrumental in the design of the Center for Performing Arts, in which the Penn High School choirs still perform. A group of those students came together, along with his son Brent, to create Friends of the Holaways, LLC, to honor the legacy of someone who left a deep impact on their lives. It was through this effort that this scholarship was born to carry on Mr. Holaway’s legacy. Tess Kavadas and Cailyn Freeman are the recipients of the C. LaMar Holaway Scholarship.
  • David “Doc” Hittle taught in the Penn High School Science Department for 24 years and was an educator for 46 years. Dr. and Mrs. Hittle’s children are Penn graduates, and together their family sustains this generous annual gift as a memorial to “Doc’s” memory. This year’s recipient is Payton Holland.
  • Kevin Hackett is this year’s Dale Whitehead  Scholarship winner, which honors the student who has participated in band, orchestra or choir for three years and will be pursuing a degree in either music education or performance. 
  • Kristlynn Minor, Eden Hartford, R.J. Cromartie and Dean Henderson are Class of 2024 recipients of the Penn Booster Club Scholarship.This scholarship has been established by the Penn Booster Club to honor and recognize one female and one male PHS student who has participated in a Penn High School Athletic or Academic Club for at least two years prior to graduation. The selected recipients have volunteered and/or supported Penn Boosters in some capacity, supported the mission of the Penn Boosters, and exemplified the character and traits associated with the level of excellence that is expected from our students and student-athletes here at Penn.
  • Nolan McCullough was named the recipient of the Chris Geesman Scholarship. This Scholarship is awarded to a Penn Football player who has provided invaluable service to the Penn Football program and possesses excellence leadership skills, work ethic and sportsmanship.
  • Akashdeep Singh is the recipient of the Elks National Foundation Most Valuable Student Scholarship:This award is given to a student for academic achievement and community service.
  • Lillian Gregory is the recipient of the Patrick Glossenger Honorary Scholarship. The Niles Scream Park is a non-profit project that has been around since 1974.  Since records have been kept, the Scream Park has donated over 2.4 million dollars to more than 65 charities and non-profits.  Each person that volunteers at the Park donates their time to one of these charities/non-profits. Patrick Glossenger, one of their best volunteers, wanted to donate his money raised to a scholarship fund for two students at Penn High School, his alma mater.
  • In partnership with the Indiana 4-H Foundation, the Indiana 4-H Youth Development Program annually awards scholarships to 4-H members to pursue post-secondary education. Scholarships are awarded to recognize youth participating in Indiana’s 4-H Youth Development Program on their achievements and life skill development resulting from their participation in a variety of 4-H experiences. Maria Goffinet has been awarded a 2024 Indiana 4-H Foundation Scholarship.
  • The Indiana State School Bus Drivers Association annually awards scholarships to its member’s children or grandchildren. Teagan Oldfather is the 2024 Indiana State School Bus Driver Association Scholarship Recipient.
  • Braelyn Freel is the winner of the Anderson Foundation Scholarship. The award winner of this scholarship is randomly selected from a pool of applicants that meets specific GPA criteria.
  • Payton Holland is the recipient of this year’s Tony ‘Doc’ Portolese, Wally Yeoman, and Steve Ciszczon Scholarship.This award is presented to seniors who excel academically and who have dedicated themselves to service in athletic training.
  • Lucas Polizzotto is the winner of the Chick Evans Scholarship for Caddies. The scholarship is in honor of legendary amateur golfer Charles “Chick” Evans Jr. The Western Golf Association awards full tuition and housing to deserving caddies.
  • Nolan McCullough and Ethan Espinoza won the Edmondo DeAmicis Mutual Aid Society Scholarship, which is awarded to graduating seniors who have shown involvement in their school and the non-for-profit community. ​
  • Sera McClain, Steve Emerick, Gunnar Smith, Mikel Cox, William Simmons, Shayan Asafuddaula, Ayush Patel, Thomas Galiher and Edward Graham are the award recipients of the Gene Haas Foundation Scholarship: The Gene Haas Scholarship recognizes the future of manufacturing in the U.S. depends directly upon the availability of skilled workers. Therefore they have committed to providing financial assistance for students interested in manufacturing- based careers. 
  • Faith Haughee is the recipient of the “Starfish – You Make A Difference Scholarship.”The award is sponsored by former P-H-M Superintendent, Dr. Vickie Markavich, to honor a student who has shown great perseverance to achieve his or her goals. 
  • Elaina Wright is the recipient of the Tri Kappa of South Bend – Epsilon Lambda Chapter Scholarship.The chapter awards a $1,000 scholarship (Epsilon Lambda Scholarship) to a female student from St. Joseph County. Applicants must be a high school senior or currently enrolled at a college or university in Indiana with the intent of pursuing a degree. The applicant must show continuous involvement in leadership positions and community service.
  • Adrian McMillen received the Mishawaka Lions’ Club Scholarship. The Mishawaka Lions’ Club strives to support the academic endeavors of highly motivated students in the Mishawaka community.  This student must plan to attend the institution in the fall immediately following graduation from high school, have demonstrated an interest in community service through extracurricular activities and have received grants/scholarships totaling no more than 50% of the institution’s yearly tuition.
  • Georgia Pogue, Caroline Bontrager, Jonathan Pletcher, Ian Hahn and Keyton Marker is this year’s recipient of the Madison Township Lions Club Scholarship.The Club award is presented to a graduating senior who exemplifies dedication to community service. 
  • Caroline Bontrager and Georgia Pogue are this year’s recipients of the Madison School PTO Scholarship.The Madison Elementary PTO recognizes former graduates for being involved in their school and community. 
  • Fiona Brodzinski is the class of 2024 recipient of the Mary Frank PTO Scholarship.The Mary Frank PTO Scholarship is given to graduating seniors who attended Mary Frank and are continuing their education. Recipients were chosen on bases of their community impact through extracurricular activities, summer employment and after school employment.
  • Tara Dauby is the winner of the Mary Frank Staff Scholarship, based on being a Mary Frank alumni and his impact on his community through his involvement in community service, extracurricular activities and employment during summer and school months.
  • Coley Brown, Kevin Hackett, Teagan Oldfather and Ella Smoker were presented with the Grissom Middle School PTO Scholarship.  These scholarships are for Grissom graduates who maintain strong academics, have outstanding character, extra-curricular involvement and a commitment to further their education. 
  • Noah Schafer and Joel Bell received the Discovery Middle School PTO scholarship.These former Discovery students were selected for their commitment to academics and service to the community.
  • Georgia Pogue was honored with the Howard & Ruth Hensler Scholarship: in which recipients must be residents of Madison Township, enroll in an accredited technical program or attend a two- or four-year college and exemplify commitment to academics and community involvement. 
  • The Next Generation Hoosier Educators Scholarship provides 200 high-achieving high school and college students who are interested in pursuing a career in education the opportunity to earn a renewable scholarship during up to four academic years of their undergraduate education. In exchange, students agree to teach for five years at an eligible Indiana college or university. Megan Flaherty, Lillian Szuba and Molly Knight earned a Next Generation Hoosier Educators Scholarship.
  • Penn’s NextGrad Scholarship is awarded to a student who is planning to obtain a certification from either a technical or skills trade program or attend a community college. Karrigan Daugherty is Penn’s first NextGrad Scholarship recipient.
  • Fiona Kennedy, Kyra Hillsdon-Smith and Jayden Wang received the Penn Orchestra Booster Scholarship. This scholarship helps graduating seniors who will further their music education at a secondary institution.
  • Ayush Patel received the Posse Scholarship Foundation Scholars Program Scholarship. The Posse Foundation is a nationally recognized college success and youth leadership development organization that sponsors full tuitions scholarships to colleges partnered with the foundation.
  • Ethan Espinoza and Sera McClain received the Purdue Alumni Club of St. Joseph Valley Scholarship. The Purdue Club of St. Joseph Valley has been part of the community in St. Joseph County since 1988. During this time, the club has grown to be one of the largest scholarship-giving clubs in the world.
  • Ashley Oh is the recipient of the Questbridge National College Match Scholarship. Match Scholarship recipients are high achieving students with outstanding academic ability, despite other challenges. Scholars are granted admission to one of QuestBridge’s college partners with a full four-year partnership.
  • Allison Christensen and Eden Hartford were selected to receive the Schmucker Middle School PTO Scholarship. The Scholarship is awarded to Schmucker Middle School and plan to continue their education in college, technical school or apprenticeship.
  • The High School Heroes Scholarship recipient is Joel Bell. The South Bend Medical Foundation High School Heroes Fund was created to support the educational aspirations of students who gave at least three units of blood during their high school career.
  • The Bert and Angela Chrustowski Memorial Scholarship scholarship was established by Mary Ann Chrustowski in loving memory of her parents. It supports the educational aspirations of St.Joe County students with an excellent academic record in science and/or music who wish to pursue an undergraduate education in a science field at an accredited college or university. Fiona Kennedy was named the recipient of the Bert and Angela Chrustowski Scholarship.
  • Claire Carmichael and Jumeng Oeung received the Perfect Attendance Award.


Here are some other stats for the Class of 2024:

  • 6 seniors enrolled in Penn’s Building and Trades Capstone course
  • 7 seniors have completed the Cadet Teaching program and plan to go into teaching
  • 23 senior student-athletes received athletic scholarships to continue their sport at the collegiate level
  • 13 seniors are going into the Military

Last Modified June 21, 2024