Twelve seniors represented Tooele High School at the Wasatch Front Regional semi-final Sterling Scholar judging in February.
The Sterling Scholar Awards are sponsored by the Deseret News and KSL 5 Television. The program publicly recognizes high school seniors from 76 high schools along the Wasatch Front for outstanding academics, stellar leadership, exemplary citizenship and exceptional service to school and community. Every Sterling Scholar must complete a 20-page portfolio documenting their academic achievements, leadership and service. They are personally interviewed at the semi-final competition by a panel of three judges who are experts in the various categories.
Fifteen finalists in each category are selected to move on in the competition. The finalists again compete with their portfolios and another interview with three new judges. A winner and two runners-up in each category are announced at the Sterling Scholar Award ceremony, which was held at the LDS Conference Center earlier this month.
Tiffanee Bird, Dance, Semi-Finalist
“I walked at just eight months old and began dancing when I was two. I fell in love with the sport and continued my passion of dance as a member of the THS drill team,” she said. Tiffanee has a 3.99 GPA while earning 11 varsity letters in three sports, serving in student government as student body secretary and National Honor Society vice-president. Her course load includes honors, concurrent enrollment and AP courses.
She writes in her portfolio, “Freshman year of drill team was not easy. My team struggled and we ended up taking fourth place out of five teams at the region competition and close to last at the state competition. Two months after the state competition, my coach passed away unexpectedly in her sleep. This was so heartbreaking for myself, my team, and everyone that knew her. At our year-end showcase, we choreographed and learned a dance we could dedicate to her. At the end of the routine there wasn’t a dry eye on the team or even in the audience.”
Brandon Boren, Social Science
“I’ve always been one who wants to do my best at anything I do regardless of what it is, and will work hard to achieve the goals I’ve set. A goal that I have set for myself is to get a 4.0 GPA throughout high school. It’s been difficult, and I’ve worked very hard in all my classes to reach this goal. This, in addition to being involved in extracurricular activities, have made high school a great experience,” he said. Brandon, in addition to earning fifth place in the Utah Skills USA Law Enforcement Competition, has maintained his GPA, currently a 4.0, while taking AP English Language, AP Calculus AB and AP English Literature and scoring a 5 on the AP Psychology test.
Brandon writes, “One activity I’ve been involved in is the peer tutor class offered at my high school. Peer tutor is a class we are able to take where we go into the class for those students with disabilities [who] aren’t able to do everything on their own, and we get to go to their classes with them and help them out with their schooling and anything else they need. They were all so happy and energetic and willing to get along with everyone. No matter what’s going on they try to be happy, which is a good lesson that I think we all need to learn, that whatever happens in life we can always find a way to laugh through it and be happy with our life.”
Angela Brewerton, Business and Marketing, Semi-Finalist
“I’m involved in academics, sports, and the arts. I put my all into what I do. Because of this, I have many accomplishments. Being involved in different things has given me a very wide skill set, which will not only help me in life, but also in my future in business,” she said. Angela has a GPA of 3.9 and an ACT score of 30 while taking seven AP courses: Human Geography, World History, Psychology, US History, Calculus AB, English Literature and Government. Angela is a member of the Future Business Leaders of America, DECA, National Honor Society and the Chamber Strings Orchestra.
She states, “I enjoy the FBLA competitions. For each competition I’ve put in time to study and to be prepared. At State FBLA in 2015 I placed seventh in the event ‘FBLA Principles and Procedures’ and qualified for the 2015 National Leadership Conference (NLC). In the summer of 2015, I attended the 2015 NLC in Chicago, Illinois.”
Arianna Bunnell, Vocal Performance, Semi-Finalist
“When I was nine years old, I moved with my family to Prague, Czech Republic. The experience of living abroad was one I would not trade for anything, and broadened my views of the world to beyond my comfort zone. In 2013 my family moved back to Tooele as I started my freshman year at West High School. I transferred to Tooele High School for the start of my junior year… I have a cultured background, an informed worldview vastly different from that of my peers.” she said. Arianna has a 34 on the ACT and a GPA of 3.95 while taking seven AP courses, including US History, Calculus AB and Calculus BC, English Language and English Literature, Psychology and Statistics.
Arianna’s performance history includes private vocal training (received instruction for the past eight years from Blake Studios and The International School of Music in Prague); Tooele High School Show Choir; Kid’s Republic: as a member of a for-profit professional choir, which performed at the Czech Opera Ball and a Tereza Maxova event. Her solo career includes pieces at Staromstská square (CZ), and numerous other venues both in the U.S. and Prague.
Sarah Eldard, Skilled and Technical Sciences Education, Semi-Finalist
“One of my biggest goals in life is to make a difference. I want to have a purpose and make the world a better place,” she said. Sarah has earned her FFA State degree. As part of FFA she has served in several leadership positions and has attended the State Convention, competing in Science Fair and Parliamentary Procedure. Her Parliamentary Procedure team earned first place for the past two years. Additionally, she placed second with her FFA Proficiency Award in specialty animals for her honey bees. These accomplishments have allowed her to be invited to the national convention for the past two years.
She wrote, “When I was younger I was one of the shyest girls. I didn’t like to talk except to my friends and family. I would never raise my hand in class to answer a question and when we would go around the room to say something or answer questions I would stress about it as it got closer to me. But from being in the FFA I have overcome this and I’m no longer shy.”
Emma Hiss, World Languages, Semi-Finalist
“I started learning Sign Language when I was a four- or five-year-old child due to my hearing and speech difficulties. Though I have no speech problems today, I’ve continued to have a mild difficulty hearing clearly with any sort of background noise. I’ve focused much of my academic career on preparing for college, and Sign Language is one of the few classes I’ve taken for fun,” she said. Emma scored a 31 on the ACT and is taking AP Calculus AB and AP Psychology in addition to the Certified Nursing Assistant and Medical Assistant courses.
She wrote, “I have a sister who works as an American Sign Language Interpreter … She is fluent in American Sign Language, but her manner of signing is more geographically localized than mine. With her help, I’ve begun to meet some people in my community who are deaf, and I’ve begun to learn more about the local deaf culture. I’m interested in continuing to learn about various deaf cultures, and I’m interested in seeing how the culture varies from region to region.”
Savannah Hogan, English
Savannah is ranked sixth in her class with a 3.993 GPA and an ACT score of 31. She has passed several AP courses, including US History, Human Geography (4), World History (4) and English Language (5) and is currently enrolled in English Literature and Calculus AB. As a member of FFA, her team placed fourth at the 2016 Floral Judging Competition and 11th as an individual in the Landscape Judging Competition. This last year Savannah planned, designed and managed the THS Arboretum; she chose the plants and other materials, received bids for the construction and supervised the implementation of the project. She served with the HEFY organization in Santa Cruz, Bolivia for 17 days where a day care was being constructed.
Megan Huffman, Visual Arts
“I feel it is important to challenge oneself and in my junior and senior years I have taken concurrent enrollment courses and AP classes. Currently I am working on my AP Art portfolio, of which one of my pieces was selected for the Springville Art Competition. Whether through volunteer work, outside art contests, leading my high school color guard team, or making something for family and friends I enjoy having the opportunity to express myself both directly and indirectly through my art,” she said. In addition to the AP Art Studio course, Megan has taken or is currently enrolled in AP World History, AP English Language, AP US History, AP Calculus AB, AP English Literature and the Certified Nursing Assistant and Medical Assistant courses.
She wrote, “Currently, I am over halfway through my commitment to the Advanced Placement Art Studio course at Tooele High School. I am creating an art portfolio consisting of 24 original art pieces. Twelve of these pieces … showcase my ability and skill with several different art mediums and style. The other 12 pieces are within the concentration section dedicated to my choice of a theme with a medium of my preference… I want to bring people’s attention to the faults of the modern world. I will create 12 pieces drawing inspiration from past painters who I draw inspiration from such as Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, and Edgar Degas.”
Alexander Lee, Mathematics, Finalist
Alex scored a 33 on the ACT and is enrolled in AP Calculus BC, AP English Literature, AP Government/Politics and AP Statistics. He has previously scored a 4 on each of the AP Human Geography, AP World History, AP US History and AP Calculus AB tests in addition to scoring a 5 on the AP English Language tests. Alex attended the Academic Olympiad both his junior and senior years, the Kangaroo math competition and has earned the Mathematics Enrichment Cord for THS.
Speaking of the Academic Olympiad, Alex states, “We went to the Quiz Bowl, what the Olympiad organization calls the ‘Star Wars Bowl’ (they throw in some questions relating to Star Wars, which was a creative way of involving some pop culture). In this, each of the nine team members must answer five trivia questions. The questions are again grouped into categories — the four categories mentioned before, with the added category of current events. For example, in my senior year, I was asked a question like this: ‘This actor, who starred in ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,’ died in 2016.’ The answer was of course Gene Wilder, but that illustrates a current events question.”
Marin Legge, Speech/Theater Arts/Forensics
Marin writes in her portfolio, “My first year here [in Tooele], I decided to audition for Sleeping Beauty at Missoula Children’s Theatre Company. I was cast as the role of Younger Sleeping Beauty, and ever since I’ve always had a love for the Performing Arts. Fast forward to my senior year, and I’ve been in eight shows. Not only have I worked hard in theatre, but I’ve worked hard in Show Choir and Dance, trying to become the best triple threat I can be. I love the performing arts, and I will continue to work hard and excel… When I found out I was cast as Reno in the musical ‘Anything Goes,’ I was ecstatic. This role was somebody I saw as a great example towards women everywhere. Besides the occasional and goofy seductiveness, Reno was independent, confident, and loyal to her friends. She was kind to everyone, and she was someone I felt honored to be. One thing I loved about playing Reno, was that her character required singing, acting, and a lot of dancing.”
Raegen Root, Science
“When I was a sophomore I took Honors Chemistry with Ms. West. It was in this class that I discovered my love for science. I had an aptitude for chemistry, the class was challenging for most students, but for me I had no problem passing with flying colors. Ms. West inspired me to be a chemical engineer, and I have been pursuing that goal ever since,” she said. Raegen scored a 30 on the ACT and has taken AP Human Geography, AP Calculus AB and AP English Language in addition to Pre-Engineering, Automation & Robotics and Engineering Design. Raegen is member of the Skills USA, earning first place in the Related Technical Math competition at state and scoring 15th place in the national competition.
She wrote, “Last year I joined Skills USA, and I was faced with the challenge of choosing a competition. There are over 100 different options of things to compete in. I considered doing drafting, because of my experience in technical drafting, but I ultimately decided on Related Technical Math. All of my studying paid off, when I received first place at state. I then received the opportunity to travel to Louisville, Kentucky and compete at the National level. I went to Kentucky and competed. I placed 15th, which might not have been as high as I was hoping, but was still excellent considering the amount of kids competing, and considering the amount of kids that didn’t even have the opportunity to compete at the national level.”
Chandler Small, Instrumental Music
Chandler writes, “In 2006, I started learning how to play piano, and I applied that motto to my practice. I’ve since learned how to play guitar, ukulele, and every percussion instrument I can lay my hands on. I want to win Instrumental Sterling Scholar to pay tribute to those who have helped me on my way, and to show that anyone can be great at whatever they want. I worked hard, and I want to prove that hard work works.” Chandler scored a 32 on the ACT and has taken AP Human Geography, AP Psychology, AP English Language, AP US History, and is currently enrolled in AP English Literature.
“The most important thing in my life right now is teaching other people music. In October, when I was applying to colleges, I took a hard look at my life, trying to find what had motivated me and helped me become who I am now. As I kept looking further and further back in my life, I discovered that every accomplishment, every change, and nearly all of my happiest moments had something to do with music. Music had made me who I am. Music gave me my friends, my motivation, my intelligence, and my happiness. That’s when I decided that I wanted to give that same gift to others if I could.”