Taylor receives Callahan scholar-athlete award


Emma Taylor was called to the principal’s office last week.

Upon arriving, principal Steve Eiland assured her she wasn’t in trouble. She sat down and Eiland got on the school’s intercom.

“He said, ‘May I have your attention? The Mississippi High School Activities Association has named Emma Taylor as a Lindy Callahan Scholars-Athlete award winner,’” Taylor said. “When he said Mississippi High School Activities Association, I knew what was going on. I couldn’t believe it. It was brought to my attention by our athletic director and he encouraged me to apply for it.

“I called my mom and dad from the office and they were super excited for me. I got a text from my sister. She said, ‘You didn’t tell me you got that.’ I explained I had just found out. Everybody has congratulated me and it has been awesome.”

Taylor is one of 16 seniors from across the state to have been selected as Lindy Callahan Scholar-Athletes for the Class of 2021. The honorees — one boy and one girl from each of the MHSAA’s eight geographical districts — were chosen for their academic accomplishments as well as their participation in high school athletics and extracurricular activities. The recipients were chosen by a committee made up of MHSAA partners and school administrators.

They will be honored at a banquet later this year.

Each of the 16 winners will receive a $1,500 college scholarship through the support of MHSAA partners.

Taylor more than qualifies as top scholar athlete. She is the Valedictorian of her class and the school’s Star Student. Her course load this school year had her taking Dual Credit Comp 1 and 2; College Algebra, College Trigonometry, AP Physics, Economics, AP Government and Dual Credit U.S. History 1 and 2.

She stays busy outside the classroom. She was a cheerleader, a member of the basketball team and the softball team.

“When they told me I was going to be valedictorian, they told me I had a 101 average,” Taylor said. “I had a 29 super score on my ACT.”

When she enters college next fall, she will go in with 15 hours due to her dual credit courses.

“I am very proud of my academics. I have had a goal to graduate top of my class for a very long time,” Taylor said. “I have been working hard for a very long time.”

While she hasn’t made a final decision. Taylor is considering attending either Ole Miss or East Central Community College. She is undecided on her major.

“My favorite subjects are English and history,” Taylor said. “I am not a science and math person. I have a friend group. One person was the creative artsy person. Another likes math and science. And I am the history and English one. We help each other out.

“This has been the hardest year, academically,” Taylor said. “I got to my senior year and I thought it would be a breeze. Then I got in all of these college classes.”

Taylor loves to write. Last semester, she wrote a research paper on gun control.

“I was pretty proud of that because I got to dive into both sides of the issue,” Taylor said. “I got to see the pros and the cons and how it has worked in other countries.”

When she was named Star Student, Taylor chose Anne Fisacerly as her Star Teacher. Taylor is in Fisacerly’s Comp 1 and 2 class.

“Emma is mature beyond her years,” Fisacerly said. “She is focused. She is very active with all the sports she plays but she balances her obligations. She takes care of everything. She is very organized.

“Her essays are like that. Her writing is structured and she’s careful. She knows what she is talking about. And if she doesn’t know, she will ask questions.”

Sarah Alexander noticed Taylor’s writing abilities when she was in her ninth grade English class, Alexander has also worked with Taylor on the yearbook and as BETA sponsor and FBLA sponsor.

“She bares her heart when she writes,” Alexander said. “She does a good job of showing you what she means and bringing you to a point so you are not left with any questions.

“When she was in ninth grade, she was a very gifted writer. Hopefully, she will have more awards and scholarships coming. She has written a lot of essays.”

Looking back at the highlights of her high school sports career, Taylor was a member of fast-pitch softball team. And her biggest memory will be when the Lady Tornadoes basketball team beat Newton High School in the Region tournament her senior year.”

Danielle Spurlock was in her first year as girls basketball head coach at Philadelphia during Taylor’s senior season.

“I think so highly of her,” Spurlock said. “She is the person you want on your team. She was definitely the heartbeat of our team in practice and in games. She was our quarterback on the court. She called plays whether she had the ball or not. She is a natural born leader and I saw that from the first day in off season.”

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