Connor Cremers remembers one lesson from his kindergarten class. It was a math lesson involving snowmen. He was hooked.
Today, Cremers is a senior at St. George’s School and has remotely completed a statistics course at Cornell University and an engineering innovation course at Johns Hopkins University. He also scored perfect 800s on his SAT in math, physics, chemistry and biology.
Cremers on Monday was selected as the top science scholar from 27 area high schools as part of the 26th Annual Spokane Scholars Foundation Awards Banquet. He is among six seniors who received a top $4,000 award in an academic category that also included English, world languages, mathematics, fine arts and social studies.
And it all started with that first math lesson.
“The only memory I have of kindergarten was a math worksheet with snowmen on it. I would tear through them like there was no tomorrow,” Cremers said. “That’s when I realized what I wanted to do.”
The 18-year-old, who speaks loudly when he explains how he works out programming malfunctions with robots, said he intends to attend either Stanford University or California Institute of Technology.
“I love problem solving. You keep learning with each failure,” he said. “Then you have that breakthrough moment. I love that more than anything.”
Julia Trudeau, 18, is the only student in fourth-year Chinese studies at Lewis and Clark High School.
She’s the only student in Spokane Public Schools to complete eight semesters of Chinese. It started with a trip her mother took to China when Trudeau was in elementary school.
“She came back talking about the culture and the food,” Trudeau said. “When I was a freshman, it was the first year they offered Chinese at LC.”
Trudeau studies under Yvonne Quigley, who has a doctorate in engineering and teaches at Gonzaga University. While her skill at speaking Chinese has earned Trudeau a $26,000-a-year offer for tuition at Loyola Marymount University, Trudeau said she’s also considering UCLA to study Chinese as a minor.
She wants to major in neuroscience.
“I want to study the biology behind drug addiction,” she said. “I’d like to end up being a college professor. I’d like to follow my professor’s footsteps. I could study abroad in China. I think it would be really cool.” She also volunteers at the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery, Deaconess Hospital and SpokAnimal.
Stories of academic achievements and community service of those honored at the banquet were impressive.
Justin Cai, a senior at The Oaks Classical Christian Academy, has been invited to play piano at Carnegie Hall in New York and concert halls in Germany and France. The winner of the fine arts category was described by his teacher as a “genuine musical prodigy.” He already has formed a nonprofit organization called “Music for Kids,” which brings music lessons to poor children.
Ilina Logani, a Gonzaga Prep senior, has a 4.0 GPA and scored a perfect 800 on her SAT Literature exam. The English category winner also achieved perfect scores of 5 on the advance placement exams for biology, U.S. history and Spanish language.
She was one of 60 students worldwide to be accepted into the Telluride Association Summer Program where she participated in creative writing projects. She wants to major in both international relations and molecular biology in college.
Hannah Summers, a senior at LC, maintains a 4.0 GPA and is a National Merit Scholar finalist and scored a 1,510 out of 1,600 on her SAT. Summers earned the top prize for social studies.
In mathematics, Michael Lin, also a senior at LC, received the top prize after earning perfect SAT scores in math for the SAT, ACT and SATII tests. Also a National Merit Scholar finalist, Lin volunteers at Camp Reed and hopes to major in environmental science and public policy.
Keynote Speaker David Grainger, a 1979 LC grad who now chairs the Bioengineering Department at the University of Utah, told the students that they need to adapt to changing technologies as they take on the challenges of the world.
“Our world is so inextricably linked by technology … in ways we could not imagine when I was your age,” Grainger said. “If you are not, I do not know who the leaders will be of the next generation.”