Sterling Scholars show academic excellence in competition

Jump for joy! Grand County High School Sterling Scholars had an “outstanding showing” at the Southeast Utah Sterling Scholar competition on March 19. [Courtesy photo]

When people hear of sterling they most likely think of the silver, but in the context of an adjective sterling is work of an excellent quality. Most seniors in high school consider it an achievement to attend class most days and to be awake, alert and aware in their classes. To be a Sterling Scholar, however, is to be a top achiever and to take that senior year and make it the culminating one after striving, sweating and stretching through all the years of high school.

Sterling Scholar is a Utah scholarship competition that originated in 1962 and has been held annually since its conception. This competition has each participating school select the top achievers in 14 categories: English, Math, Visual Arts, Drama and Vocal Performance, Science, Social Science, Skilled and Technical Science Education, Dance, Music, Forensics and Speech, World Languages, Computer Science, Business and Marketing and Family and Consumer Sciences.

In addition to exemplary achievements within their categories, scholars also must show excellence in academics across the board, leadership and citizenship.

On Tuesday, March 19, Grand County High School’s Sterling Scholars competed at Utah State University-Eastern in Price for the Southeast Utah Sterling Scholar competition.

Educators said Grand County’s students had an outstanding showing, with five students winning their categories, and five students receiving runner-up. Grand tied with Carbon High for the most wins taken.

This is a six-month long arduous undertaking, and all of Grand’s scholars deserve accolades for taking the challenge on. They all grew from the process that demands professionalism, communication, and dedication. If you see one of the scholars, please congratulate them. The 2018-19 group is hard working, kind and brilliant. They are the leaders of tomorrow.

Scholars create a digital portfolio illustrating their achievements and reflecting on their past, present and future. The portfolio marries textual explanations with visual storytelling. Three judges who are specialists within the category receive the portfolios two weeks before the competition. On competition day, scholars attend a 15 minute, professional interview with their three judge panel. From the combination of the portfolio, the student’s accomplishments, and their interview, the judges select winners and runner-ups.

Stephen Hren, principal of Grand County High School, offered congratulatory remarks to the students and their teachers.

“This year’s Sterling Scholars represented Grand County High School very well by filling all categories and bringing home five Region wins and five runners-up,” he said. “I am proud of all 14 scholars for their years of academic focus, and to Ms. Simmons-Cameron for her dedication to the students and the Sterling Scholar program. Lastly, congratulations to all the teachers who helped these Scholars excel academically and to their parents for the ultimate support.”

Christa Green, art teacher at Grand County High School and a mentor to many Sterling Scholars, said that students do not become Sterling Scholars overnight, but that it is something they have been working toward during their entire high school careers.

“The Sterling Scholar program is a team effort, with many teachers and administers helping these students achieve greatness and to become better people,” Green said.

The following seven students had top finishes in the competition: Kasey Michael Kemp, Mary Amanda Kimmerle, Hailey Cox, Phillip Geiser, Ridge Murdock, Auburn Cali Jackman, Isabel Becerra, Trayken Robertson, Sadie Farnsworth and Kai Wainer.

Kasey Michael Kemp won the Math category. He has a 4.0 and is at the top of his class.

Mary Amanda Kimmerle is the English Sterling Scholar winner. When she’s not reading Jane Austen or painting watercolors, she is editing her school newspaper.

Hailey Cox won the Dance category of Sterling Scholar. She is captain of the drill team, took first place in Miss Drill Utah 3A Lyrical Division, and has been dancing since the age of 4.

Phillip Geiser took home the win for Forensics and Speech. He is the first person to qualify for the national tournament in Lincoln-Douglas from his school.

Ridge Murdock won the Visual Arts category for Sterling Scholar. His “Pollution Hurts Everyone” poster was runner up at the University of Utah’s Clean Air poster contest.

Auburn Cali Jackman placed runner-up in World Languages. Aside from interning with the Moab Valley Multicultural Center and volunteering with the Amigos Club, she is developing an online ukulele class for kids in both Spanish and English.

Isabel Becerra, runner-up in Music, is always finding new ways to challenge herself. For example, the high school does not offer a music theory class, so she researched classes that were available to her and is currently taking a theory class online.

Trayken Robertson nabbed runner-up in Drama and Vocal Performance. He has played a role in the high school musical for every year he has been in high school, even starring in the lead role of “Hello Dolly” his junior year.

Sadie Farnsworth received runner-up in Family and Consumer Sciences. She interned with Knowles Home Furnishing Inc., which gave her the opportunity to rearrange the many vignettes, arrange bed design, change items and furnishings around on the floor and everything in between.

Kai Wainer earned runner-up in the Social Science category. He recently interned with the mayor of Moab, and he focused on the city’s affordable housing crisis.

This article was submitted by Alanna Simmons-Cameron and Joshua Cameron.