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Area seniors earn honors as All-Stars

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Two Columbus high school students have been named 2014 Indiana Academic All-Stars.

Columbus East High School senior Jacob Villiger and Columbus North High School senior Tushar Chandra were selected from a field of 253 students.

The program, sponsored by the Indiana Association of School Principals, honors 40 students who excel in the classroom first but also are active in their schools and communities and take on leadership roles in those activities.


They were honored last week at a luncheon and were congratulated by Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann and Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz.

Villiger and Chandra — both in the top 10 of their classes — have lengthy résumés that highlight their high school and community activities.

Chandra, who also received a $500 minority award, has received recognition in high school for his high grades and participation in academic leagues and band. In the community, he has been involved in tutoring and coaching and is part of the Philharmonic Youth Orchestra as well as being selected to the All-State Jazz Band.

“I think my involvement in music helped me win this award,” he said.

“Being lead trumpet in the All-State Jazz Band is one of the things I am most proud of in high school, and I think it helped me to stand out. The music department at North provided wonderful opportunities for me to be involved.”

He’ll attend Brown University, Duke University, Northwestern University, University of California, Berkeley or Grinnell College to study applied mathematics and biology. He hopes to have a decision next week.

But as he considers his future, he is not forgetting his past. He started at ABC-Stewart School, and he said the school helped him become interested and curious about academics.

“I’ve been inspired by fantastic teachers for my entire life,” he said.

For Villiger, the Indiana Academic All-Star award was another honor to add to his long list. Among the others: National Merit Scholarship finalist and 2014 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program semifinalist, chosen from a pool of more than 4,000 candidates.

“It’s a big honor, and I’m glad I was able to seize it,” Villiger said. “I’ve put in a lot of hard work over the years, and it’s nice to be recognized for it.”

He is an Eagle Scout with Boy Scout Troop 555 and is active at St. Bartholomew Catholic Church.

Villiger isn’t sure where he’s going to school next year, but he knows what he wants to do.

“I’m hoping to go into mechanical engineering and do some work and innovation that can make a positive difference in the world,” he said.

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