The names of the grant recipients of the 23rd annual Spokane Scholars Foundation were released Monday evening of Monday at the Spokane Convention Center.
A total of $60,000 will be awarded to 24 of the 143 Spokane Scholars, four students in each of the six content areas: English, Fine Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies and World Languages.
The Spokane Scholars Foundation is dedicated to recognizing the exceptional academic achievement of high school seniors from the Spokane area. Students complete an application following nomination in one of the six content areas by their high school principal, counselor or teachers.
Three judges for each category review the blind applications to determine the four grant recipients in each content area. All 143 scholars are awarded a Spokane Scholars Foundation Medal of Academic Achievement and certificate, and a congratulatory letter from US Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of the 5th District of Washington. Fourteen institutions of higher education in the region will match the monetary grant awards of $1,000 to $4,000.
Spokane Scholars in English
Jenna Vasquez from Central Valley High School is a National Merit Commended student who has a 4.0 GPA and is ranked first in her large senior class. She earned a perfect score of 800 on the SAT writing exam and a perfect score of 36 on the ACT English exam.
Vasquez has been presented with a scholastic award from the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth and has also been honored several times by the Future Business Leaders of America. Her A.P. English teacher tells us that “she reads challenging material with astounding comprehension and insight and writes with a precision more characteristic of a graduate student than a high school senior.”
Vasquez plans to attend Brigham Young University.
Laurel Stickney is an A.P. Scholar with Honors and a National Merit Commended Scholar who earned perfect scores of 800 on both the SAT verbal exam and the SAT writing exam, and a perfect score of 5 on the AP English Language exam.
Since arriving at St. George’s School at the beginning of her junior year, she has taken one International Baccalaureate class in Chinese and nine A.P. classes. She has also sought out academic programs during the summers leading into her junior and senior years.
Stickney is on her school’s Knowledge Bowl and History Bowl teams and has attended the highly selective Yale Young Global Scholars Studies in Grand Strategy program. She is also a co-founder of both Youth United Spokane and Refugee Connections Spokane.
Stickney plans to attend Wellesley College and major in international relations.
Elizabeth McKee attends Mead High School where she has earned a 4.0 GPA and is a National Merit Commended Student and an A.P. Scholar with Distinction. She has earned perfect scores of 5 on the A.P. Literature and A.P. English Language exams, and perfect scores of 800 on the SAT verbal and writing exams and the SAT literature subject test.
McKee is her debate team’s captain and has received numerous awards in state and regional competitions. She also tutors several students at her school and is involved with the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
McKee plans to major in political science with a focus on international relations.
Pingbo Zhou has earned a perfect scores of 5 on the A.P. English Language and A.P. Composition exam, a perfect score of 800 on the SAT verbal exam, has a 4.0 GPA, and is both a Washington Scholar and an A.P. Scholar with Distinction.
Zhou has excelled in debate and has been involved in numerous extra-curricular activities, such as creating several multimedia projects that mix classic literature and pop culture, tutoring students in Spanish and coaching badminton.
Zhou attends Joel E. Ferris High School.
Spokane Scholars in Fine Arts
Philip Thompson from Gonzaga Preparatory School has an impressive resume of accomplishments across several disciplines in the Fine Arts.
Thompson holds a 3.912 GPA, an impressive 2190 on the SAT and 4’s and 5’s on numerous A.P. tests.
As a sophomore Thompson achieved a perfect score on the 2013 National Latin Exam.
Natalya Ferch is widely skilled with Gold and Silver medals in the Musicfest Northwest competitions and numerous roles in theater.
Attending The Oaks Christian Academy, Ferch also excels academically with a number of college and universities vying for this talented student who holds a 3.91 GPA.
Micah Vogel from Joel E. Ferris High School achieved a 34 ACT and a 3.853 GPA.
Vogel has also garnered awards from a wide range of musical competitions ranging from the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival to WMEA Regional Solo and Ensemble Contests (placing first in two areas) to a silver medal at Musicfest Northwest. He is a member of numerous bands and orchestras in the area playing such diverse instruments as violin and drums.
Lewis and Clark High School’s Grant Cook has a 4.0 GPA and 4’s and 5’s on a number of A.P. tests. He holds first or second place awards in most of the music competitions in both local and state levels.
2015 Spokane Scholars in Mathematics
A National A.P. Scholar, a National Merit Finalist and a highly successful member of Math is Cool, Moriah Longhurst scored a composite score of 35 on the ACT as well as an impressive 730 on the Mathematics portion of the SAT. Earning a 5 on the A.P. Calculus A.B. test was only one of her many accomplishments as she prepares herself for a future in medicine or business.
Longhurst attends Freeman High School.
The numbers are impressive; Michael Brutocao from Gonzaga Preparatory School earned a 790 on the SAT in math, a 710 on the Math I SAT subject test and a 690 on the Math 2 SAT subject test.
Planning to attend Notre Dame, MIT or Harvard, Brutocao states, “My inspiration to give back and my knowledge that math can solve amazing problems has inspired me to work on a larger more global scale.”
This scholar is planning to work on cancer research or desalinization techniques to provide safe drinking water to those who do not have it.
Kenneth Day, the leader of the 2014 Math is Cool Open Division Champions, has a distinguished record academically, maintaining a 3.97 GPA while taking 10 A.P. classes, earning an 800 on the math SAT, 35 on the ACT math section and a 5 on the A.P. Stats exam, a 99 on the American Math Competition and as a result will be invited to participate in the American Invitational Math Exam.
As captain, Day led a team to compete in the international robotics challenge in St. Louis.
Day attends St. George’s School.
Alexander Plagman, who attends Central Valley High School, is described by a calculus teacher as, “all things mathematics and computer science.”
Achieving perfect scores on the SAT math and the SAT 2 math subject tests set the stage him to excel. Plagman takes college-level courses in computer science, has placed every year in the Math is Cool competition, is Microsoft-certified and is the Content Coordinator of the school’s CyberPatriot team. This team scored in the top 5 percent of all Cyber Patriot teams in the country.
Planning to attend the University of Washington to major in computer science, Plagman is described by an advisor as a “shining example of how students can embrace computer science and help pave the way for a better safer tomorrow.”
Spokane Scholars in Science
Kacie Salmon is a National Merit Commended Student, a 2014 Washington Aerospace Scholar, and an A.P. Scholar.
Her A.P. Biology and Chemistry teacher indicates that Salmon is one of the top three students they have encountered in 23 years of teaching. Salmon’s Physics teacher says that she is the most intellectual, committed, natural leader that he has taught in his 15 years of teaching. The $1,000 award winner holds a 4.0 GPA from West Valley High School.
Jeremy Ratcliff scored a perfect 800 on the SAT Molecular Biology exam, and is an A.P. Scholar with Distinction, having taken A.P. Biology, Chemistry and Physics.
Ratcliff was a finalist in Spokane’s STEM posium for a project involving the chemical analysis of the Spokane River. He is a research intern at G.U., has been trained on an NMR machine, and is currently helping on an Alzheimer’s research project.
Ratcliff hopes to earn both an M.D. and a Ph.D., and volunteer for Doctors without Borders. Holding a 4.0 GPA, Ratcliff attends Lewis and Clark High School.
Trevor Brown attends Central Valley High School. Brown is a National Merit Commended Student, an A.P. Scholar with Honor having taken nine A.P. courses, a Washington Scholar and class valedictorian with a 4.0 GPA.
Brown scored a perfect 36 in both the Science Reasoning and Mathematics sections of the ACT. A science teacher describes him “as focused as a $23,000 Canon IDC camera,” “sees the big picture but also captures the details with clarity. I am inclined to believe his cerebrum has turbo boost genes.”
Brown is also an Eagle Scout with 21 merit badges.
Tim Ngo is a National Merit Finalist, an A.P. Scholar with Distinction, achieved a perfect score of 800 in Mathematics on the SAT and a perfect 36 ACT Composite score, as well as perfect 36 scores in Science Reasoning, Mathematics, and Reading.
A 4.0 GPA student, Ngo was the school’s Knowledge Bowl captain for two years, whose team was the 2015 state champions in the 2A Division. The physics teacher describes Ngo as the “most accomplished student that has attended during our school’s A.P. era, and all his teachers (former and current) consider to him to be in the top 1 percent of students they have taught.”
Three different departments wanted Ngo, but this East Valley High School scholar chose to be honored in science.
Spokane Scholars in Social Studies
Cody Mekus of St. George's School has taken five A.P. history classes, earning straight A's and scoring 5’s on three A.P. history tests.
Mekus received A.P. Scholar recognition in 2014 and has finished at the top of multiple regional history bowl competitions, including a first place finish at the varsity Eastern Washington regional history bowl in 2012.
Mekus describes his future goal to achieve a postgraduate degree in National Security and Defense or International Relations before entering a career in military intelligence, where his knowledge and love of history, current events, and country may be combined in a useful way.
Rachel Loe has a 4.0 grade point average, an SAT score of 2,060, and an ACT composite score of 35. She has taken five A.P. history classes, earning straight A's and scoring 5 and 4 on two A.P. history tests.
Loe is an Advanced Placement Scholar and a National Merit Scholar Commended. Her principal states, "Rachel is a highly intelligent, analytical and creative person who has a deep passion for history and social studies. Rachel will dedicate herself to leadership, government and society and will definitely make a positive impact on the world." Loe states," I'm eager to attend college and cultivate a diverse, global mindset that will pave the path to my future."
Loe attends East Valley High School.
Sidney Orr of Central Valley High School has earned a 3.98 grade point average, an SAT score of 2110 and an ACT composite score of 33. She has taken five A.P. history classes and earned straights A's in all courses and has taken five AP tests, scoring a 5 and 4 on the United States History and European History tests.
Orr is an A.P. Scholar with Distinction and a four-year member of the National Honor Society. Orr’s National Honor Society advisor stated, "One goal of the American education system is to create an informed and active electorate. Sidney embraces this ideal and is a student who has grown into a passionate and involved citizen."
Orr states, "The most valuable lessons I've learned from social studies have not been what I've written down on A.P. exams, but what I've been able to apply in my everyday life."
Heather Rogers of Gonzaga Preparatory School has a 3.902 cumulative GPA, an ACT composite score of 35 and an SAT score of 2240.
Rogers has taken five Advanced Placement classes in history, earning straight A's. She is an A.P. Scholar with Honor and has scored a 5 on four advanced placement tests.
Spokane Scholar in World Languages
A 4.0 student at East Valley High School, Emily Sior has an impressive academic record and especially excels in Spanish.
After just one year in high school Spanish, Sior began participating in college-level Spanish courses and is at the top of the class. Completing four A.P. exams with scores of 4’s and 5’s, Sior also scored a 2110 on the SATs.
Sior is an A.P. Scholar with Honors and is an integral part of the Spanish Club. After graduating this spring, Sior plans to attend Montana State University.
Erwen Zhu is a very well-rounded 4.0 GPA student from Joel E. Ferris High School and has an outstanding resume related to the Spanish language. Spanish is this scholar’s third language, as English and Chinese Zhu spends time immersed in world languages and volunteers as a Spanish tutor throughout the week.
An accomplished debater, Zhu has been at the top of the GLS the past three years in both expository and oratory speaking.
In addition, Zhu is a very accomplished pianist and has won competitions such as Spokane Music Fest and the Music Teachers Association Competition.
“Languages are Eunkyo Yang’s life, according to her counselor, which is evidenced by Spanish being just one of six languages this scholar has studied.
As a 4.0 GPA student from St. George’s School, Yang has published poetry in Korean and has traveled extensively to learn more about different cultures and how language is truly expressed in the world. As expected of the Spokane Scholar Honorees, Eunkyo is a very well rounded student who scored a perfect 800 in the math component of the SAT test and scored in the top 97th percentile on the SAT even though English is her second language.
Yang plans to continue language and literary studies in college with the hope that “I can help facilitate true globalization by moving people’s hearts with my literary work”.
The top scholar in World Languages is Rachel Fricke, a 4.0 GPA student with a 2260 SAT score, 4 AP test scores of 5, two additional AP test scores of 4, and a perfect 100 on the A1 German test provided by the Goethe Institute through the University of Washington.
Fricke attends Gonzaga Prep. She has been a student of world languages for over 15 years and received 4 high school credits for passing the STAMP proficiency test in the German language.
Fricke, however, is not the language in which this student was nominated. Since 2012, Fricke has also exceled in becoming fluent in Spanish and has completed all of the available Honors and A.P. Spanish classes with a 4.0 average. As an AP Scholar with Distinction, varsity volleyball team captain, and avid volunteer with over 1,000 hours of community service, this scholar is very well deserving of this year’s top prize.
In college, Fricke plans to continue to study German and Spanish while focusing on becoming a neurosurgeon.