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Draper Journal

Draper Park eighth-graders prepare for scholarship program

Sep 05, 2019 12:10PM ● By Julie Slama

Draper Park Middle School awarded its Viking Scholars trophies as well as a $100 scholarship from Jordan Credit Union and Canyons Education Foundation at a year-end banquet. (Photo courtesy of Anita Riddle Schmidt)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Draper Park eighth-grade students may already be preparing for the Viking Scholar program even though classes are just getting underway.

That’s because students need to submit extensive applications that evaluate grade-point average, community service and awards as well as involvement in extra-curricular activities. They also may be assembling a portfolio to showcase their experiences as it relates to a subject matter they’re applying for as well as preparing for a way to demonstrate knowledge in a subject area or preparing a short performance in the same field.

The Viking Scholar program, which was modeled after the Sterling Scholar program, encourages students to find joy in their subject area they’re successful in as well as gives students confidence and a growth mindset, Assistant Principal Randall Seltz said. 

“We want as many as possible to apply,” he said. “Even if they don’t win, they’re getting feedback, building their resume, learning about their strengths and achieving some awesome things by just going through the process. This is empowering for kids and they work hard to be recognized for their talents.”

The middle school program was created several years earlier, as was the Bobcat Scholar by Nate Edvalson, who served under Draper Park Principal Mary Anderson at Union Middle. When the two came to Draper Park, he continued the program as the Viking Scholar. 

“It was a way for the students to prepare for the competition of the Sterling Scholar and also become more college and career prepared,” said Edvalson, who now is at Eastmont Middle. “It gives students confidence and it lets them build toward something, a capstone concept, so they had a direction and felt accomplishment in middle school.”

This past year, after going through three rounds of judging against their peers, 11 students were recognized in performing arts to math and science, from world languages to career and technical education. They were awarded a $100 scholarship from Jordan Credit Union and Canyons Education Foundation in addition to being presented a trophy of a Viking with a shield at a banquet at the end of the school year.

Letters announcing winners were mailed to their homes during the spring break.

Drake Larsen, the social studies winner, said when he came home from hanging out with friends, he opened the letter that waited for him.

“I was really happy, more than in shock,” he said, adding that he is planning to set aside the money for college. “All the hours I spent studying, writing essays, researching websites. It was stressful. I told my mom and she was really happy. She was screaming like for five minutes straight.”

“It was super stressful,” agreed Jacqueline Clegg, who won the science category. “I put my time and heart and soul into this. I wasn’t home over break and kept asking, ‘did the mail come?’ When the letter came, my mom got a flashlight to look through the envelope to see if I won.”

Jacqueline, who would like to go to college at MIT, said this has helped her know how applications process and wants to apply for Sterling Scholar as a high school senior.

“This has given me self-confidence and it’s something I can put on an application. I know if I work hard, I can achieve success. Even if I don’t win, I will have learned a lot,” she said.

Her classmate Kylie Hiatt, who won for vocal music, agreed: “I know now how to prepare for Sterling Scholar and have the confidence that I can get it. Even if we didn’t win now, all the work and practice helped us learn and grow in our subject areas.”

Annika Gilson, who was the dance subject winner, said even though she was dedicated to her field, it was something she enjoys.

“I like to choreograph on my free time; it’s fun,” she said. “I didn’t mind all the countless hours preparing for this. I wasn’t nervous to perform as I do that at my studio, but it was more nerve-racking to do the interview even though I could talk about the elements of dance.”

Kylie said she prepared for her performance not only by reviewing rhythms, scales, and sight-reading, but also by taking voice lessons.

“I made time for it. It became a priority and I love singing, so it was something I wanted to do,” she said.

While some of their classmates chose not to apply for the scholarship, all four said they’d strongly encourage peers to do so.

“It’s a good opportunity to start focusing about our future. We have four years of high school, then college and real life. It’s good to test ourselves like this in middle school,” Drake said.

Kylie said it also gives the high school a chance to let them know they’re ready to excel at that level and “shows all you can do. We also can help our friends in understanding a certain subject.”

Annika said it has given her more opportunities, such as knowing how to prepare and audition to perform with drill team at Corner Canyon.

“It opens up so many more possibilities because we believe in ourselves and know we can succeed,” she said.

Jacqueline also said the program tells them about themselves.

“We learn about ourselves, who we are and what we can do,” she said. “And even among our peers, it unites us.”

Other subject winners include Christine Schmidt, theater; Jacquelyn Marsh, English/language arts; McKaylee Hortin, visual arts; Sadi Peacock, career and technical education; Hayley Webb, math; Emily Geilman, world languages; and Madison McGee, instrumental music.