Wrangell High seniors receive almost $500,000 in scholarships, awards


Brian O'Connor/ Wrangell Sentinel

The graduating class of 2014 lines up near the end of the academic awards ceremony May 14. The 17 graduates have garnered almost $500,000 in awards and scholarships, though not all were accepted.

The class of 2014 will have more than a little financial assistance as they head off to college.

Wrangell High School officials formally acknowledged the numerous scholarships and financial awards distributed to students at a May 14 awards ceremony. In all, students obtained about 25 scholarships and awards this year for a given total of $471,475. Those figures are dependent on student reporting and may be low, according to Lisa Nikodym, who tracks senior scholarship figures for the school system. That figure includes scholarships awarded but not accepted, figures show.

Trustees awarded the largest local scholarship, the Alaska Pulp Scholarship, to three Wrangell students. Matthew Covalt, Tyler Eagle, and Calleigh Miller will each receive $5,000 per year for four years, for a total of $20,000. The scholarship was established in memory of Alaska Pulp Corporation founder Tadao Sasayama, and provides college funds to high school students in Wrangell and Sitka.

Miller and Covalt also received the Alaska Scholars designation from the University of Alaska system, though the $11,000 tuition discount and accompanying $8,000 housing voucher are awarded to students who pursue their studies at the University of Alaska. Miller and Covalt both plan to attend out-of-state colleges next fall. Covalt, Eagle and Miller were among the names most frequently called over the course of the two-hour awards ceremony, along with fellow seniors Hannah Armstrong and Robbie Marshal.

"You're going to be hearing from these three people a lot today," said Bill Privett, who announced the pulp scholarship results.

The pulp scholarship's pairing of Wrangell and Sitka has led to some good-natured ribbing and Wrangell pride, Privett said.

"Our SAT scores are in many cases better than theirs (Sitka's)," he said.

Covalt – named the school's valedictorian at the awards ceremony – also received the $10,000 Delta Western Scholarship, the $5,000 Anna Loftus Ream Memorial Scholarship, the Wrangell Birthday Calendar Scholarship, the June Nelson Memorial Scholarship issued by the Association of Alaska School Boards, and an Elks Legacy Scholarship. Covalt was also named a semi-finalist for the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation scholarship, a national program.

Covalt and Marshall each received a $500 scholarship from the Wrangell Lions Club. Marshall also received a $1,000 scholarship from the Juneau Lions Club.

Covalt plans to attend the University of Idaho and major in electrical and computer engineering.

Salutatorian Miller also received two Elks scholarships – the $1,000 Joel Wing Scholarship and the Allen Benjamin Music Scholarship – in addition to the $500 Alaska State Employee Association. She plans on attending Western Washington University in Bellingham, but is uncertain about her major, which is given as marine biology, music and photography, paralleling her diverse academic interests.

"I was thinking maybe a double major in marine biology and music, but I'm also really interested in photography, so I'm just gonna see what happens," she said.

Miller was also honored at the Chamber of Commerce dinner as a youth leader earlier in the year. Hard work was one of the keys to academic success, but it wasn't the only ingredient, Miller said.

"Definitely focus on your classes because as a freshman you have easier classes, but those turn into college classes, and your college classes are what count," she said. "All of it counts. Try your best at everything, and don't be afraid to explore. That's what I did."

Eagle, who plans to major in physics and chemistry at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., also faced what might be termed a good problem. He had received scholarship offers from three different schools: $80,000 to attend Pacific Lutheran, $60,000 to attend Gonzaga, and $32,000 to attend the University of Idaho.

Armstrong received $18,000 from Southeastern University in Lakeland, Fla., where she plans to study nursing. She also received a $1,425 scholarship from the SEALASKA Heritage Institute, the inaugural $2,000 Colin Buness Memorial Scholarship, and $1,000 from the state Emblem Club organization. Armstrong also received the Alaska Native Sisterhood scholarship.

She and Marshall each received a Shandele Nelson memorial scholarship.

The Alaska Native Brotherhood scholarship went to Amy Ferdinand, who plans to remotely attend the San Francisco-based Academy of Art University.

The Stikine Sportsmen's Association Scholarship went to Alex Cano and Casey Shilts. Cano and Shilts both plan to attend the Alaska Vocational Technical Center in Seward.


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