Sam Campbell

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (April 10, 2020) — The Missouri Scholars 100 Program named Anna Hilburgh, a senior at Waynesville High School, one of the top 100 students in Missouri for the graduating class of 2020. Anna is the daughter of Col. Adam Hilburgh, 3rd Chemical Brigade commander.

“This is one of the premier academic recognition programs in the country because it looks at not only academic success, but also character and school involvement,” said WHS Principal Randy Luebbert.

According to a social media post from the Waynesville R-VI School District, the selection is based primarily on a formula using the student’s grade-point average and ACT or SAT score, but includes attendance records and extra-curricular activities.

“The student must have a minimum GPA of 3.750, a minimum ACT score of 29 or a minimum SAT score of 1,600, be ranked in the upper 10 percent of the class and have taken high-level courses in mathematics, science, English and foreign language,” the district stated on Facebook.

Over the course of four years, Anna has been a co-captain of her swim team, named a section leader in the school’s band and participated in a program with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency – but the accolades don’t stop there.

Less than two months ago, Anna was named a finalist in the National Merit Scholarship Program.

“Being named a national merit scholar was one thing, but top 100 in the state is just something else,” her father said. “She just works hard, and she’s real diligent – she takes a lot of pride in what she does.”

To be considered for the program, schools nominate exemplary students. Anna said she is grateful for the chance to shine.

“I was honored for the opportunity to try for the Missouri 100, and I am glad that my school’s faith in me was not misplaced,” she said. “This honor is the culmination of years of hard work and encourages me to continue to succeed through the rest of the school year and into college.”

Anna was accepted into the honors engineering program at Texas A&M for the fall. These plans, among others, may be delayed due to the spread of COVID-19, the family said.

“She had a few more months of school to finish everything she’s been striving for, and I think a lot of kids feel like it’s been taken away from them,” Hilburgh said. “It’s really a shared experience that all the high school seniors and college seniors will have across the country.”

To keep in compliance with federal and state guidelines, Waynesville High School has indefinitely delayed and postponed numerous events, district officials said. Superintendent Brian Henry said the district wants to honor graduating seniors, but its first priority is keeping them safe.

“We do want to recognize them,” Henry said. “It is our intention to do those things for seniors, but the time that will occur will be dependent on what happens with the virus here.”

Hilburgh expressed sympathy for students who feel like they have unfinished business – his daughter included.

“So for (Anna) and other folks, I think there’s some sadness with all these things, whether it’s accolades or sports, or academics, volunteer groups,” Hilburgh said. “I think ‘incomplete’ is the strongest term I can use with it.”

Incomplete, indeed.

“It is disappointing how many things are put on hold or canceled due to the pandemic,” Anna said. “I, and many other seniors, had a clear plan for senior year and what came after. Now, things feel … uncertain.”

But despite all the challenges facing her, she has remained positive, finding optimism in the midst of “uncertain” circumstances.

“This is a global situation, and there will have to be changes everywhere to keep people safe,” she said. “It is hard to accept that college for me may be delayed, but colleges and everything else will open again someday, and I still have my entire life before me. I am willing to wait one semester to ensure the people around me stay healthy and safe.”

Hilburgh said even though the possibility of a graduation ceremony is in flux, his daughter’s hard work still makes him proud.

“Just because we don’t get to go in a crowd and get applause or get to see friends face to face doesn’t diminish all the effort for her and for all the kids that are going through this today,’” he said.

Because of her father’s military service, Anna has attended three different high schools in Kansas, Maryland and, for her senior year, Missouri. The mobile lifestyle may be an anomaly to some, but it is a reality for many military families; Soldiers often receive new orders, or permanent changes of station, every year or two, requiring them to move across the country.

Hilburgh said his daughter’s success is evidence that children of military families “continue to succeed and punch above their weight,” no matter the move.

“It shows the strength of the military and the military child with their ability to move from one place to another,” Hilburgh said. “It shows incredible resiliency for each one of them. Teachers are different, cultures are different, standards are different wherever they go.”

The school district deserves credit, Anna said, for its rapid adaptation to the ongoing situation.

“I am very grateful for the school district for continuing our education the best they can based on the circumstances,” she said. “Other school districts had to completely shut down, and those seniors do not have the opportunity to continue their school work.”

Her father agreed and said the district has been helpful to them ever since arriving at Fort Leonard Wood.

“Waynesville is fabulous,” he said. “They welcomed us. They have probably the best system we’ve seen as far as transitioning in. The whole pandemic has shown that Waynesville High School gets it. Their ability to transition to the virtual and the distance learning has been phenomenal, and it’s probably difficult to replicate what they’ve been able to do.”

Anna left a message of hope to her classmates.

“To my fellow graduating seniors, I want to say ‘keep up the hard work,’” she said. “Things may seem incomplete and vague, but our work will pay off. We will still graduate, and our future plans are intact, just delayed. We can get through this.”

Anna studies at her home on Fort Leonard Wood. (Photo courtesy of the Hilburgh family.)


About Fort Leonard Wood

Fort Leonard Wood is a thriving and prosperous installation that has evolved from a small basic training post more than 75 years ago to a premier Army Center of Excellence that trains more than 80,000 military and civilians each year.

Fort Leonard Wood is home to the U.S Army Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and three U.S. Army schools: the U.S. Army Engineer School; U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School; and the U.S. Army Military Police School. In addition to training engineer, CBRN and military police specialties for the Army, Fort Leonard Wood also provides gender-integrated in-processing and Basic Combat Training for new Soldiers.

Fort Leonard Wood also hosts and trains with the largest Marine Corps Detachment and Air Force Squadron on any Army installation as well as a large Navy construction detachment.

More information about Fort Leonard Wood is at: