[Grand County High School]

When hearing the word “sterling,” people may think of the silver of second-place medals, but the students who apply themselves to be Sterling Scholars are nothing less than gold in their pursuit of excellence in scholarship, leadership, and citizenship in the state of Utah.

Students nominated for the honor in Grand County started working on their portfolio in their chosen category as far back as early December of 2021. Each student must write about six important experiences in their category as well as on the topics of leadership and citizenship, including visuals and documentation with their essays. However, it does not end there. The scholars were then to attend a 15-minute interview with teachers educated in their category.

I was nominated in the English category, so I know the most stressful part for many students was the interview and worrying that we could put in all the hard work during our free time only to mess up in our one-shot interview.

For Tanner Crane, the most challenging part was putting in the weekly work of finishing the entire portfolio without knowing what the judges were expecting. When asked what advice to give to future scholars, Kaistin Oliver advises “ [not] be afraid to brag a little. You’ve done so much in high school to earn this honor, now is the time to show off your hard work!”

Most of the interview experiences were positive but, in spite of that, we were all filled with nerves when the award ceremony took place. First, the scholars were listed in alphabetical order and then were followed by the announcement of the runner-ups. Next was the Sterling Scholar Winner.

I heard read out: “The winner of English exhibits excellence in the full breadth of the word. She is exceptionally well rounded in the academic canon: you can find her eating lunch in the chemistry lab and competing in Science Olympiad, AND she is also a woman of the arts. She is published in the school’s literary magazine and the school newspaper. In addition to her traditional examples of written English pieces, she impeccably performed the lead part of the school’s play this last fall. She expressively, and gracefully embodies the human nature which literature and English can so eloquently represent. In addition to her academic pursuits, she has exhibited an exemplary model of leadership and citizenship in a multitude of ways from Color Guard captain in marching band and maintaining international pen pals. To top it all off, she extends her dedication and commitment to her love of horses competing in horseback archery. The winner of this Sterling Scholar’s English Award is the daughter of Beth Logan and Mark Griffith from Grand County High School: Tanyon Griffith.”

Soon after, another Grand County Sterling Scholar winner joined me on the stage.

“This Sterling Scholar has shown great interest and creativity in computer technology. He has accomplished and learned much in his high school career and has demonstrated leadership in student government and honor society. He has contributed to the community through volunteer hours. This scholar has also built a computer on his own which is why he plans to study computer science at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado. Outside of school, he loves to go up to the mountains to ski and mountain bike in the summer. The winner of this Sterling Scholar Computer Science Award is the son of Michael Duniway and Jessica O’Leary from Grand County High School: Conor Duniway.”

Other honorees included runners-up Kaistin Oliver in the Business category and Tanner Crane in Science.

All Sterling Scholars are applauded for their diligent efforts and accomplishments. Receiving a piece of paper and flowers does not define how much we accomplished in completing the work asked of us in our free time. We strived for excellence not only in academics, but in leadership and citizenship. We went beyond what our academic system required of us. That’s what being a Sterling Scholar is. Well done!