Each Monday and Tuesday, The Sun publishes profile stories about area high school seniors chosen from a pool of nominees for Teen of the Week recognition. Around the end of school, a selection committee picks one senior for Teen of the Year, who receives a $5,000 scholarship. An additional student is recognized with an Inspiration Award, which carries a $1,000 scholarship.
Criner is a well-rounded student whose academic achievement is among the top of her class at Tilghman. She's ranked third with a weighted GPA above 4.3. She is an AP Scholar with Distinction and earned an ACT score of 34.
She also participated in the Governor's Scholar program for creative writing at Bellarmine University this past summer. She keeps busy with many extracurricular activities, such as mock trial, Future Problem Solving, varsity tennis, National Honor Society, Beta Club and playing clarinet for the wind ensemble and pep band. She's captain of the speech team too, or what she describes as "competitive talking."
Along with her love for STEM subjects, Criner considers herself a creative person who enjoys reading, writing and participating in different essay contests. She draws inspiration from Savannah Brown's poetry and cites Alice Hoffman as her favorite author.
"She's wonderful," she said. "The way she writes is just so descriptive and beautiful and honestly, it's just magical the way she says things. That inspires me a lot in my own writing."
Criner's exact path in college and beyond has not been decided yet, but she spent time during fall break touring different universities. She's considering several schools, including Belmont University, University of Louisville and Indiana University, while also applying to "reach" schools like Northwestern and University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
Senior year and graduation is first though, but Criner looks forward to seeing where everyone ends up after high school, noting that many of her friends have different dreams and aspirations.
They're all part of the "Tilghman family," in her eyes.
"I am definitely sad about everything kind of coming to a close, but I am so excited to go and be able to do something else in a new community and maybe bring it back to my old community, eventually," she said.