Four local seniors recognized by national scholars programs

Posted: Sunday, May 23, 2010

One Shelter Islander and three Juneau high schoolers were recognized by two national scholars programs last month.

Juneau-Douglas High School seniors Melissa Axmann, Margaret Ross and Chelsea Speegle, and Interior Distance Education of Alaska senior Megan Murayama, of Shelter Island, were among more than 3,000 candidates in the 2010 Presidential Scholars Program. Speegle was selected as a semifinalist.

As candidates, the four were selected from nearly 3.2 million students expected to graduate from U.S. high schools this year.

Candidates were selected for their exceptional performance on either the SAT or the ACT assessments. Further consideration is based on students' essays, self-assessments, descriptions of activities, school recommendations and transcripts.

Scholars were selected on the basis of superior academic and artistic achievements, leadership qualities, strong character and involvement in community and school activities.

Megan Murayama

Shelter Island resident Megan Murayama also was awarded a National Merit Scholarship Corp. College-Sponsored Merit Scholarship from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash.

Murayama, 17, was home-schooled all of her school years by her mother, Nora Taylor. Their family runs a fishing lodge, Anchor Point Lodge, during the summer.

"I'm really happy to have this scholarship, because it will help in paying for college," Murayama said. "It's quite extensive. It was really nice, and it shows that all my hard work has paid off."

In addition to participating in Battle of Books for about seven years, Murayama has studied visual arts at the acclaimed Sitka Fine Arts Camp.

Next year, she is considering studying graphic design or education at Whitman College.

College-sponsored awards are renewable for up to four years of undergraduate study at the sponsor institution and provide stipends that range between $500 and $2,000 per year.

Officials of each sponsor college select winners for their awards and determine the amount of the annual stipend within the specified range. College-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards are canceled if the winner decides not to attend the college financing the scholarship.

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