Earning valedictorian honors wasn’t necessarily the goal for Ethan Apsley when he enrolled at Shelbyville High School as a freshman.
But it did not take long for it to become one.
By the end of first semester of his freshman year, he saw he was ranked third in the class of 2021.
“From then on, I thought I could do it,” he said.
Despite having a hard time initially adapting to virtual learning at the end of his junior year, he persevered and finished with a 4.63 grade point average, tops in his class.
And while being stuck at home in the spring of his junior year might not have been the most enjoyable thing, it did open his eyes to what he wanted to do with his life.
After living through a worldwide pandemic, Apsley plans to attend Indiana University to study biology.
“I’ve always been interested in sciences,” he said. “Especially with COVID, it put into perspective how important that is with our world.”
Apsley is considering drug research as a career after college.
Perhaps not surprisingly, his favorite class was his freshman year Advanced Placement biology class, which had a lot of seniors in it. The class helped him find himself, he said.
By his junior year, he found himself stuck at home doing virtual learning.
“Especially with our teachers, nobody knew how to handle the new learn environment,” he said, adding that some classes became easier but that overall, it was hard to adapt.
One class that was tough was his U.S. history class, which was through IU.
Being able to return to the classroom for his senior year was a “great way to end it,” he said.
And while there were some restrictions that made it different, students were basically able to do what they wanted, he added.
Apsley stayed busy in high school.
He was a member of the boys’ tennis team, which won the sectional championship his senior year. He was also a member of the boys’ golf team and led the Golden Bears in the sectional round shooting an 85 this past weekend. He missed out on advancing to a playoff that determined the third individual to advance to the regional by four strokes.
Apsley was also in National Honors Society, some of the academic teams and was manager of the baseball and girls’ basketball teams.
“I felt like it was another way to bring something to the school and make the school proud,” he said of his involvement.
As a sophomore, he was a member of the state championship English Academic team along with then-juniors Reid Schene and Katelyn On. Shelbyville won the title by coming from behind at the end of the competition, defeating Fishers and Carmel.
Leading by two points with one question remaining, Apsley was the first one on the team to realize that they had wrapped up the state championship.
“It felt good to bring home (a state championship) to the school,” he said at the time. “We don’t have a bad athletic program, but it definitely isn’t a powerhouse. To win state, that’s something I thought was pretty cool.”