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Grants honor outstanding young scholars

Organization raises money through donations

They ace their classes, win awards and volunteer in their communities.

They also so impressed their teachers that the 134 students from 23 schools honored Monday by the Spokane Scholars Foundation can consider themselves the top students in their schools.

Twenty-four were named the best of the best and won grants ranging from $1,000 to $4,000.

“It’s still quite exhilarating,” said Lewis and Clark High School senior Travis Wichtendahl, who won a $3,000 grant in the fine arts category.

Wichtendahl knows the $2,000 grant winner in the same category, Michael Woodruff, a student at Upper Columbia Academy.

“He’s such an incredible musician that it’s just breathtaking to me to even be in the same category,” said Wichtendahl, who was described at the banquet as an exceptional musician with near-perfect SAT scores.

The banquet was the 17th-annual awards ceremony for the foundation, a volunteer organization that raises scholarship money through donations from Spokane businesses and individuals.

School banners hung from the Spokane Convention Center ballroom as more than 700 students, teachers and community members dined and more than $60,000 in grants were awarded.

It was a night when straight A’s, excellent SAT scores and top marks on Advanced Placement tests seemed the norm instead of the exception.

Honored were students like Cara Myers, of Ferris High.

Fluent in Spanish, Myers is studying Chinese at the college level and has excelled at debates in Spanish. Her achievements earned her the top $4,000 grant in the world languages category, beating out students whose accomplishments ranged from perfect GPAs to tying the record for most Advanced Placement classes completed.

The $3,000 grant recipient, Bekah Holloway of University High, has just one B on her record – it came while she studied at a high school in Germany.

Many of the grant recipients are already bound for top universities.

Brian Thomas, a senior at Shadle Park who won $4,000 in the mathematics category, has his eye on Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Columbia University.

He’s already been accepted to the University of Washington and was called by a teacher “one of only three or four students in her 27 years of teaching she would describe as a true mathematician.”

Meghann M. Cuniff can be reached at (509) 459-5534 or at

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