After Karl Fencl learned he was being honored by Spokane Scholars Foundation in the science category, the Rogers High School senior sized up his competition for who might end up with the top prize.
“I went to school with two of them,” said Fencl, referring to the Odyssey program. “I played baseball with the other one.” Fencl expressed admiration for the other scientific minds, calling one of his former classmates “extremely motivated and intelligent.”
Nearly 800 people attended the 20th annual Spokane Scholars Foundation banquet at the Spokane Convention Center, where 135 high school seniors were honored for their academic achievements and 24 were awarded scholarships, four each in six content areas, ranging from $1,000 to $4,000 – a total of $60,000, raised through donations.
“The banquet not only celebrates the achievements of the Spokane community’s best and brightest but also provides the opportunity to encourage these fine young people to educate themselves and pursue careers here in Spokane,” said JoAnn Tripp, a Spokane Scholars Foundation board member. “They are our greatest community assets.”
Fencl, who is also a National Merit Scholar finalist and Spokane Public Schools board student representative, walked away with the top science scholarship of $4,000.
“Science is by far my favorite subject in school,” he said. The teen is especially fond of chemistry and plans to study chemical engineering at Stanford University.
One of his former classmates, Marina DeFrates, a North Central High School senior, received the second-largest, $3,000. DeFrates helped discover and identify bison DNA.
“It’s nice to be recognized like this,” the 17-year-old said. DeFrates will attend Harvard University after taking a year off to work and travel.
DeFrates’ parents, Debi and Bruce, beamed with pride for their daughter’s accomplishments, as did hundreds of parents, teachers and school administrators who attended the banquet.
For mother Heather Roy-Ting, this was her second time accompanying a daughter to the event.
Her eldest daughter, Alison Roy-Ting, won in the science category three years ago and is now attending Stanford. On Monday, it was her daughter Catherine, an Oaks Classical Christian Academy senior. The teen won a $2,000 scholarship in world languages.
“It’s a huge blessing,” the girls’ mother said. Both daughters have different strengths. “I’m really proud of both of them.”