FLORENCE, S.C. – Wilson senior Paulina Halus has plenty to celebrate. She will soon graduate, ranked third in her class, and has been accepted to the United States Naval Academy. She leaves for Annapolis, Md., on June 29.
Her latest honor was even worth a celebratory dip in the family pool. Not a voluntary one, though.
After Halus was selected as the South Carolina High School League’s female student of the year, her twin brother, “Jack,” picked her up and tossed her in it.
Honored in October for being the SCHSL’s female student of the month while running cross-country, she was also a captain on the Tiger girls’ soccer team in the spring.
Meanwhile, Halus sported a 4.0 unweighted GPA and an unweighted GPA of 5.507 – ranking only behind her brother (the salutatorian) and her best friend, Sophie Watson, who is Wilson’s valedictorian.
“I was very excited when my name got announced as the winner. I didn’t think I was going to win because there were other girls who were very competitive for this,” said Halus, who received a $2,500 scholarship that goes with the honor.
Halus then looked back upon what has certainly been an unusual school year.
“When school was virtual, it made it more difficult in some ways, from a social aspect, and in maybe getting some of the work done,” Halus said. “But in other ways, I was able to make my schedule more flexible, so I could get more things done when I wanted to.”
In addition to being on two athletic teams, Halus was also on the robotics squad.
“Most of my robotics practices would start at 6 p.m., so I’d leave from soccer or cross-country practice and go straight to that,” Halus said. “But I was doing things that I enjoyed. It felt like I was doing stuff all the time, but I was enjoying what I was doing.”
The robotics team is something she used to prepare for the future. Halus, who was also accepted to the United States Military Academy West Point, plans to major in robotics and control engineering.
While Halus certainly learned a lot in the classroom, the athletic field enhanced her experience.
“High school sports helped me reach out to meet a lot of new girls I might not have had interactions with, otherwise,” Halus said. “Just as older players influenced me when I was younger, I saw that role of mine when I got older as one to influence younger teammates.
“And another one of the lessons I learned was the value of trying something new. I didn’t participate in cross-country until I was a sophomore,” she added. “It didn’t matter what your time was, compared to the girl next to you, as long as you are pushing yourself throughout the race to improve.”