Iowa’s top academic students have been chosen for the 2020 Governor’s Scholar Program and KWWL’s Best of Class. Representing Union High School for both of these prestigious awards is Rachel Hellman, daughter of Denis and Sara Hellman of Dysart. The Governor’s Office, the Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA), and its title sponsor, the Iowa Farm Bureau, are presenting the Governor’s Scholar Award, which began in 2003.

The 424 seniors being honored were selected by their high schools as the highest academic achievers. All students will receive a recognition plaque and certificate to commemorate their achievement. In addition, each student’s most influential teacher will also receive a certificate of appreciation.

The in-person ceremony for this year was canceled due to COVID-19 and the ongoing guidelines concerning public gatherings. With that in mind, the student honorees are being announced via social media and the IHSAA website.

In a statement posted online, Governor Kim Reynolds addressed the senior scholars, saying, “In a normal year, we bring together more than 400 Governor’s Scholars, and several thousand family members, influential teachers and other guests to celebrate this remarkable honor. As you all know, this year is unique. All of our lives have been impacted by COVID-19. For students, it meant an abrupt end to seeing classmates and teachers everyday at school, and for seniors, it meant missing everything from State Athletic tournaments to your own commencement ceremony. But it doesn’t change how important this honor is and how significant your hard work has been in laying your foundation for the future.

“I’m so proud of you and confident that all of you will accomplish great things. And while some of you may leave Iowa for a time, I’m counting on you to come back and make our great state an even better place to call home. On behalf of the people of Iowa, congratulations on being a 2020 Governor Scholar and best wishes for a future filled with opportunity and success.”

In addition to being recognized as the state’s brightest students, more than 99 percent of the students recognized in 2020 participated in school activities. More than 60 percent plan to pursue their post-secondary education in Iowa.

“The principles learned through academic success, like those learned from participation in school activities, help develop outstanding young leaders,” said IHSAA executive director Tom Keating.

“The partnership between the IHSAA and the Iowa Farm Bureau, along with the great cooperation of the Governor’s Office has made this prestigious program possible for many years.”

Please note: Due to the COVID-19 crisis, vignettes filmed by the Best of Class students are expected to be available for viewing online at in June.