HOPE — A dozen adults stormed into a Hauser Jr.-Sr. High School biology class Thursday afternoon, catching the 17 students off-guard.

But that was the idea, as the Bartholomew County Lilly Endowment scholarship announcements are always planned to surprise the winner.

In this case, it was Hauser senior Pete Trotter, 17, the first winner from Hope in at least 15 years, according to a representative from the Heritage Fund — The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County, which coordinates the selections locally.

When asked to stand, Trotter quickly found himself the center of attention in Eric McGath’s classroom.

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Trotter — the son of Barry and Polly Trotter — was one of two Bartholomew County winners chosen from among 101 applicants to earn a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to the Indiana college or university of his choice. The scholarship also provides a $900 stipend for required books and equipment.

“You have impressed us with your story of redemption and your commitment to your faith, as well as your academic work, athletics and leadership,” said Matt Kirr, president of the Heritage Fund’s Lilly Scholarship committee, as his classmates broke out in an enthusiastic round of applause.

Trotter, a member of the Hope Moravian Church, is believed to be the first Lilly scholar from Hope since Jeremiah Abplanalp, who graduated from Columbus East High School in 2000.

Although his plans for next fall are still being firmed up, Trotter said he hopes to study biology and chemistry at either Purdue University or Wabash College, with the goal of eventually returning to Hope as a physician.

Although the news seemed to leave Trotter a bit stunned, the valedictorian of Hauser’s Class of 2017 only required a few moments to describe his feelings.

“This is like a birthday surprise, when everybody waits in the dark until somebody turns on a light,” Trotter said. “I wasn’t expecting it — and nothing like this has ever happened to me before.”

Besides recognizing academic excellence and community involvement, need is another factor used in choosing Lilly scholars, Kirr said.

Since early childhood, Pete Trotter has been motivated to work hard at everything – from helping his father’s farm to sports and academics, his mother said.

“When Pete was in elementary school, he refused to settle for any grade less than an A,” Polly Trotter said. “That’s just his personality. While my husband and I have always supported him, Pete deserves all the credit for his successes.”

His school and community involvement is considerable. It includes National Honor Society member, junior class officer, varsity boys basketball player, captain of the varsity soccer team, captain of the track and field team, 4-H member, FFA member, and Special Olympics volunteer.

He is also a member of the Hope Moravian Church, cabinet member and vice president of Mid-States Moravian Regional Youth Council, and Fellowship of Christian Athletes members.

But her son gave kudos to his parents: Barry Trotter, a farmer, Hope Warehouse employee and school bus driver; Polly Trotter, a social worker.

“It’s not all me,” Pete Trotter said. “You also have to think of my teachers and peers along the way who motivated me.”

With three other children, Polly Trotter admits it’s a stress trying to figure out how to enable each of her kids to do what they want to do in their lives.

“It’s really expensive,” she said. “But this definitely opened up a lot of doors.”

Pete Trotter

Name: Pete Trotter

Age: 17

School: Hauser Jr. – Sr. High School

Parents: Barry and Polly Trotter

College: Undecided, but considering Purdue University or Wabash College.

Major: Biology and chemistry to eventually become a physician.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.