Sixteen seniors from Grantsville High School participated in the Northeast Region Sterling Scholar Competition on March 20, 2018, at Utah Valley University, where several of the GHS seniors placed well. David Christensen and Marissa Linare won in social science and family and consumer science.
Kaitlyn Andrus, Grace Bird, Peter Porter and Mary Olney were runners-up.
Sterling Scholars are selected for their outstanding accomplishments in their category, bolstered by superior academic performance, leadership experience, exemplary citizenship and exceptional service in their schools and communities. Each school’s representatives are required to prepare an extensive electronic portfolio outlining their accomplishments.
On the day of the competition, each candidate is interviewed by a panel of judges — experts in each of the various categories.
The Northeast Region Sterling Scholar Winners were announced Tuesday evening in the Grand Ballroom at UVU.
Winners received a $1,000 cash award and runners-up received $650. Universities and colleges throughout the state also offer scholarships in varying amounts to both winners and runners-up. The Sterling Scholar program is sponsored by Zions Bank and the Deseret News.
Peter John Kurtz – Instrumental Music
Awards and accomplishments: Peter John Kurtz has dedicated much of his life to studying the piano. He played an original music composition at the Sterling Scholar competition. He has participated in the Achievement in Music (AIM) program and is working to complete the highest level. One of his greatest piano accomplishments was learning the first movement of the Mozart Piano Concerto No. 21, which included 15 minutes of memorized music. He is an Eagle Scout and has a 3.99 GPA.
Future plans: He will serve an LDS mission and attend Southern Utah University.
Carter Parks – Speech/Theater Arts/Forensics
Awards and accomplishments: Carter Parks has been on the debate team during all four years of high school and is a two-time region champion in debate. He was also a National Catholic Forensics League competitor in Louisville, Kentucky. His composite ACT score is 34. He is a member of the National Honor Society and FBLA. Parks helped organize a community service project to aid the Utah homeless population.
Future plans: Parks plans to attend college, but has not yet picked a college or university.
Savannah Thomas – General
Awards and accomplishments: Savannah Thomas has a perfect 4.0 and is ranked No.1 in her graduating class. She has taken a rigorous course load during her high school years, including AP, honors and college classes. She excels as a student athlete and has qualified for USA swimming sectionals, which are just two steps away from the Olympic trials. She is on the soccer team and holds a student body office. She has logged over 100 hours of community service for three consecutive years.
Future plans: In the fall, Thomas will attend Dixie State University and work toward a degree in medicine.
Marissa Linares – Family and Consumer Sciences
Awards and accomplishments: Marissa Linares has been president of the Grantsville High School FCCLA chapter this year and she has increased chapter membership. She was awarded a silver medal in Family and Consumer Science at nationals in Nashville, Tennessee. She is a two-time state tennis champion. She has served as a student body officer and maintained a 3.98 GPA.
Future plans: Linares will attend Utah State University in the fall with a dual major in Early Childhood Education and Special Education.
Peter Porter – Science
Awards and accomplishments: Peter Porter has a passion for science. He has constructed several engineering projects, including a polyphase AC generator and a wind turbine. He won first place in the open division of the KidWind Contest and received the Judges Award at the regional contest. He has challenged himself in the classroom and is known for his willingness to help others in the classroom. He is a member of the cross-country team and is an Eagle Scout.
Future plans: Porter plans to attend Utah State University and study aerospace engineering.
Halle Cartwright – Dance
Awards and accomplishments: Halle Cartwright is an outstanding dancer and has won numerous awards for her talents. In high school she has been a member of the drill team, dance company and ballroom dance. She was recently selected to be a member of the all-state drill team and is the 2017 drill down winner. She has been drill mistress at GHS for the past two years. Cartwright attended Girls State and has spent countless hours serving the community.
Future plans: Cartwright will continue her study of dance at Southern Utah University in the fall.
Jessica Kempe – English
Awards and accomplishments: Jessica Kempe has an extraordinary writing ability and has excelled in her language arts classes. She scored a 5 on the AP English Language Exam during her junior year of high school. She has also excelled in seven other AP classes during high school. She volunteers as a math tutor at the Diamond Janes’ Assisted Living Center. Kempe helped create caterpillar beanbags for an autistic school in Salt Lake City.
Future plans: Kempe will attend Utah State University in the fall and major in mechanical engineering.
Kayla Johnson – Skilled and Technical Science Education
Awards and accomplishments: Kayla Johnson has worked hard to achieve a 3.97 GPA. She has designed and built a variety of projects in her woodshop classes. She has earned the CTE pathway for cabinetmaking and millwork. Kayla has earned three skill certificates for her woodworking talents. She has participated in SkillsUSA. She is the editor of the yearbook and a varsity tennis player. She volunteers at the Family and Community Resource Center for the Tooele County School District.
Future plans: Johnson would like to become a wildlife biologist while attending Utah State University.
Kaitlyn Andrus – Visual Arts
Awards and accomplishments: Kaitlyn Andrus is an award-winning artist who excels in digital design, painting and photography. She won first place in the International 2016 Youthful Expressions Art Competition and was a grand prize nominee. She has participated in several art shows and has received many awards. Andrus excels at animation. She uses a flip book style format, where every movement shown in a clip is a new drawing. She organized and taught a children’s art camp and is known for her desire to share her talents with others. She maintains a 3.95 GPA.
Future plans: Andrus will attend Utah Valley University where she will study animation.
Grace Bird – Mathematics
Awards and accomplishments: Grace Bird has achieved a 4.0 in high school, while taking AP, honors, and college classes. She helped to organize a math club and created a tutoring program in the community. She is a recipient of the GHS Student Excellence Award for her accomplishments in mathematics. She is a member of the National Honor Society, where she has been involved in both service and leadership. Her peers selected her to be a member of the Hope Squad during both her freshman and sophomore years. Bird has been a member of the cross- country team and she also plays the cello.
Future plans: Bird would like to serve an LDS mission and earn a math degree from Brigham Young University.
Cameron Wexels – World Languages
Awards and accomplishments: Cameron Wexels has spent his high school years developing his ability to speak Spanish. He has attended the Brigham Young University language fair, where he earned both superior and excellent rankings. He has been a youth leader at the Grantsville Art and Science Camp, and has been involved in numerous service projects. He has taken multiple honors and AP classes, and has a 4.0 GPA. He is a member of the soccer team and participated in cross-country.
Future plans: Wexels would like to attend the University of Utah and become a pharmacist. He also plans to serve an LDS mission.
David Christensen – Social Science
Awards and accomplishments: David Christensen is recognized by his peers as a leader and is serving as the senior class president. He has been the speech and debate captain for two years and is a state champion in public forum. He has enrolled and excelled in every AP class the social science department offers. He spent time as a student intern for Rep. Merrill Nelson and was named a Hugh O’ Brian Youth Leadership Junior Staff member and he attended HOBY in 2016
Future plans: After graduation, Christensen will be attending the University of Utah.
Jase Wilson – Computer Technology
Awards and accomplishments: Jase Wilson has earned state-issued skills certificates in both computer technology and computer programming. Throughout high school, he has learned and developed multiple Java, Python, WML, PHP and HTML programs. He is a member of the LDS seminary council and the LDS youth council for the Grantsville Stake. He has been involved in many community service projects throughout his participation in the National Honor Society and the Boy Scouts.
Future plans: Wilson would like to attend college and, he said, possibly study dentistry.
Mary Olney- Vocal Performance
Awards and accomplishments: Mary Olney loves the violin and percussion but most of all, she loves to sing. She has performed as a soloist at Abravanel Hall and also in the community production of Handel’s “Messiah.” She received superior ratings at state choir and orchestra solo and ensemble. Olney is the Grantsville High School choir president. She loves to share her talents with the community.
Future plans: Olney will attend Utah State University where she will study vocal performance. She also envisions serving an LDS mission and being a mother.
Preston Knutson – Business and Marketing
Awards and accomplishments: Preston Knutson has been involved in multiple clubs. He serves as the FBLA president. While at GHS, he was instrumental in the formation of DECA, a club focused on business and marketing. Knutson is working toward graduating from high school with an associate’s degree. He has also participated in debate and JROTC.
Future plans: Knutson wants to attend Utah Valley University.
Esther Jordan- Agriculture Science
Awards and accomplishments: Esther Jordan is the youngest member of The Spanish Goat Association. During high school, she developed many skills relating to agribusiness. For three years, she has served as an officer in FFA, where she has competed in public speaking, floriculture, dairy cattle evaluation and poultry judging. Jordan expanded her leadership while serving as the captain of the swim team.
Future plans: Jordan will attend Utah State University and major in agriculture business and minor in political science and economics.