Ethan Apsley was playing a round of golf when he got a text saying Shelbyville High School was switching to virtual learning for the rest of the 2020 semester.
"That was interesting," said Apsley, who was preparing for his junior season of golf with the Golden Bears. "We were done. It was kind of a surreal experience."
Despite the new academic challenges, Apsley adapted to virtual learning well which helped him maintain his top ranking in the Class of 2021.
The son of Kent and Marsha Apsley was recently named valedictorian at Shelbyville and will study Biochemistry at Indiana University in the fall.
"My dad went to IU so I've always liked IU most of my life," he said. "I thought it was the best choice because I want to go into the sciences and it felt like the right fit since they are a large research university."
Apsley has not mapped out his future, choosing to stay in the moment and see how his experience goes at IU.
"I kind of want to get into drug research but I will see how that works out. I have four years to figure that out," he said.
Apsley admits to being somewhat shocked when he was ranked third in his class after the first semester of his freshman year of high school. That altered his approach to school.
"I figured I needed to take a shot at (being valedictorian)," he said. "I changed my class schedule a little bit to give me a chance to get it."
One semester later he was ranked No. 1 and that never changed.
Apsley was a four-year golfer at SHS, played tennis for two seasons and was active in academic competitions. He was captain of the Quiz Bowl team the last two years.
Golf is and will continue to be a big part of his life. He is spending his summer working in the Pro Shop at Blue Bear Golf Club in Shelbyville which affords him course time. If his schedule allows, Apsley wants to play club golf during his time in Bloomington.
"I have to prioritize academics but I will try and make it fit in," he said.
After dealing with virtual learning for the final two months of his junior season, Apsley was happy to get back into school to start his senior year. Then an upswing in COVID-19 cases forced SHS to switch to hybrid learning for a short period where students were staggered throughout the week as to when they could attend classes.
"I adapted pretty well to that," he said. "Hybrid was set up really well this year where we still had a great opportunity, not the same opportunity to have daily in-person conversations, but being able to have enough we could get by.
"I was in school two-and-a-half days a week. It worked well so being able to take tests in person was really nice because I was focused a lot better."
Apsley fully believes his choice of IU is the right one but there are still concerns moving onto such a big campus.
"I am excited for it but I know I will have to adapt," he said. "It's way different of an environment than I've been in with the class schedule and having to do a lot of self-studying that college requires."
Until he moves to Bloomington, Apsley will continue to work on one of his golfing goals -- scoring a hole-in-one.
"I've not been stupid close yet," he said with a laugh. "I've been probably within two feet before. It's definitely a goal. I thought I would get one by now as much as I've played."