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Saturday, January 29, 2022

Community profile: Glenwood Springs High standout stitches together National Merit Scholarship bid

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Hannah Feeney, a high school student in Glenwood Springs, is a semi-finalist for the National Merit Scholarship.
Chelsea Self / Independent After

By her lofty standards, Glenwood Springs High School student Hannah Feeney admits she didn’t study much for the PSAT.

Between her plethora of extracurricular activities, her passion for fashion design, tutoring and other schoolwork, the test didn’t take priority for beginners at the time in October last year. She had already dunked her toes in a lot of swimming pools.

But after scoring among the nation’s top 16,000 students in the background practice exam, Finney was awarded a semi-finalist offer for the National Merit Program with a chance to move forward in the coming months. Now, the PSAT is a focal point in Feeney’s present and future as she applies for the final position and the wheels begin to spin around the doors such a feat might open for her.

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“They told us this test is actually important but not really,” Finney said. “There’s so much focus on this standard test that I took in a few hours. Like, is this now such a big part of my life? Yeah.”

A scholar with a proven track record of excellence in all that she pursues, Feeney has established herself in the Glenwood Springs High School theater, moot court and pride sets. She climbed the ranks in all of them and still managed to be a first-class student.

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Vinnie isn’t quite sure what the award will mean for her just yet. She’s already an outstanding grad, so the award is not a notable exception to her track record of hanging her hat. She already thinks she can get into strong colleges. But for someone whose teeth are sinking into a lot of stuff so hard, she’s not sure that’s the direction she wants to go.

Hannah Feeney, a high school student at Glenwood Springs High School and a National Merit Scholarship semi-finalist, works on a project in the school’s sewing class.
Chelsea Self / Independent After

passion for fashion

The higher education status that Vinnie dreamed of was studying fashion at a school in New York. She believes that if she goes there, she can plunge into the fashion community, even if she eventually goes to another specialty.

It would be just another step towards turning a long-standing passion into something more, perhaps even a career.

Vinnie has been in the theater since she was little. But when I got to high school, the schedules for spring play and mock trial season were constantly outperforming.

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Rather than excluding one or the other entirely, Vinnie found a middle ground – working in fashion rather than being a talent on stage. This led to the discovery of the charm of the historical treasury and the realization of its personal style. She’s now doing what she calls “whatever the heck” Thursday, where she wears outrageous clothes, like Belle’s dresses.

For the upcoming theater season, she’s heading up the costume department, which has been run by employees or parents in the past.

Vinnie said she will lead a team of eight to 10 people and work on improving her resume even further.

Hannah Feeney, a high school student at Glenwood Springs High School and a National Merit Scholarship semi-finalist, works on a project in the school’s sewing class.
Chelsea Self / Independent After

to be himself

That’s what Vinny does – when she cares about something, she steps in. You climbed the ladder through the fashion ranks to a place that did not exist before you got there. At the Pride Club, she acts as a vice president of sorts and has helped grow the group fivefold. Coach Isabel Carlson said she won several awards in a mock trial.

“Hannah’s the one who gives her everything she does,” Carlson said. “She has a unique way of looking at things that enrich the experience of everyone around her.”

Finney attributes it to ADHD. She says she’s overly focused on one thing and then has to offer variety, whether it’s through other extracurricular activities or something else, to avoid burnout.

As a result, she has learned in several different areas but is also painfully aware of the need for work-life balance. She cited this as a major concern about going to a traditional, standard-track college.

“It’s not exactly what I was really planning on heading in my life,” Finney said. “I prioritize my own college experience rather than going to, say, the Ivy League.”

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She said taking a different path in life was an idea her parents instilled in her when she was young. Nicole Finney, a pediatrician at Grand River Health, fosters a sense of individuality and carves the way for the individual, as has Ryan Finney, who has been discussing with Hannah and her siblings even from a young age about current events and stimulating critical thinking.

Nicole and Ryan met at a liberal arts college in Tennessee on their final pursuits in medicine and law. They developed their relationship on the school’s show trial team, a major factor in Hannah’s fascination with the organization.

They wanted to enhance Hannah’s ability to follow her own path, as they had done with all of their children. The award boosted her up for Hana.

“I want her to have the opportunity to pursue anything to find her true happiness, whatever the path may be,” said Nicole Finney. “I think that gives her that opportunity.”

Hannah Feeney will learn in January or February if she is among the 15,000 finalists. Then, between March and June, you will learn if she is one of the 7,500 merit recipients. It will open the door to about 7,500 scholarship opportunities and the opportunity for her to take her life in any direction she chooses.

Reporter Rich Allen can be reached at 970-384-9131 or rallen@postindependent.com.

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