Trojan Scholars learn outside the classroom

Charlene Reyes eased the struggle for Algebra students. The Bremerton Church of the Nazarene congregation sits closer together because of Jeff Shaw. Carrie Sharkey performed Green Day’s “Good Riddance.” A small village on the Navajo reservation had heat this winter because of Claire McLean’s efforts.

These Olympic High School seniors are part of a group of 52 Trojan Scholars whose academic achievements meld with their desire to make a difference.

Students must have a 3.5 cumulative GPA and take 14 semesters of classes from a list of electives. At least four of those semesters must be Advanced Placement.

Each scholar candidate must also complete a senior project on the topic of their choice.

“It gave me an excuse to do something I like to do,” Shaw said of his project. As far as keeping high academic standards, “That’s what I expect of myself,” he said.

His project started off as a film to break stereotypes, then it evolved into a series of public service announcements to raise money for the church’s African mission.

His film is still a work in progress, but he hopes to submit it to a film festival when it is finished.

Arla Shephard decided she would teach fourth graders French.

The hardest part of the job was “keeping their attention for an hour,” she said. Twice a week she taught students basic vocabulary.

“They were soaking up everything,” Shephard said. “Kids will remember everything.”

Reyes, her classmate, centered her project around teaching as well. She expanded her duties as an OHS tutor, tutoring twice a week at Ridgetop Junior High. The experience opened her eyes to a possible career path.

“I’ve been tutoring people since the 10th grade. I really think I’m going to be a teacher. Working with the junior high kids really put it in perspective,” Reyes said.

Jaylen VanOrden explored the world and work of biotechnology. He went to two job shadows at Amgen in Seattle.

“The experience shifted my focus from bio medical to biotech,” VanOrden said.

The Trojan Scholar program, in its eighth year, began with 11 students. On May 28, 52 students received a medal and gave a presentation on their project.

“They really take school seriously. They just make good choices about their classes and what to do with their time,” said Catherine Morrow who along with Tara Richerson oversee the program.

“The project is the showy part,” Richerson said, while the meat is the academics.

April Greeson directed a show. She selected the cast, kept up with the props, blocking, and organization of the production.

“It helped me respect my directors and understand how hard it is,” she said.

Other Trojan Scholars worked in a group to revamp the school’s multi-cultural assembly. Sara Goetz and three others started by surveying the junior class on their heritage. The locations were marked on a map with a pin. That gave them an idea of the ethnic make up of the school and what students wanted in their assembly.

“It was awesome. I was really excited,” Goetz said of the assembly held May 28.

Students are required to spend about 20 hours working on their project and work with a mentor.

A new crop of Trojan Scholars will begin their journey by attending informational meetings next week. If students believe they can meet the requirements, they should attend one of the meetings scheduled for 2:45 p.m. Tuesday and 7:30 a.m. Wednesday in the OHS library.

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