By Saerom Yoo
Mar 19, 2013
A record 41 high school seniors in the Mid-Valley were honored March 3 at Willamette University for their academic achievements and commitment to community service.
The annual Academic All-Stars banquet, organized by the Statesman Journal, the Silverton Appeal Tribune and the Stayton Mail, brings together leaders of the local higher education community and high-achieving students. Four local colleges — Willamette University, Western Oregon University, Corban University and Chemeketa Community College — have pledged scholarships to Academic All-Stars who qualify for admission.
The students were a diverse group — some aspired to be physicians, engineers or politicians. Others wanted to pursue teaching or entrepreneurship.
And this group didn’t just make good grades. The students balanced an active life of volunteering and extracurricular commitments as well. In fact, two all-stars weren’t able to make the event because they were involved in a volleyball tournament and a robotics competition.
Steve Silberman, president and publisher of the Statesman Journal, told students that intelligence and knowledge alone cannot carry them to success. He listed passion, determination, curiosity, integrity and flexibility as some qualities that he looks for in his own employees.
He also noted the massive amounts of information available digitally today.
“Your goal cannot possibly be to keep accumulating knowledge,” he said. “Rather, you need to learn how to navigate through all the available information and to think critically about the information you receive.”
The all-stars were asked to write essays on whether social media could improve their community.
Leaders from area colleges also offered their advice to students.
Stephen Scheck, vice president for academic affairs at Western Oregon University, urged students to keep their creativity alive and to take risks.
“College represents another launch into a different plane of existence of what might be possible,” he said.
Two students received special awards that came with Kindle electronic readers. Brenton Paulsen from West Salem High School received the Outstanding Essay award, and Sadie Manley from John F. Kennedy High School received the Outstanding Community Service award.
Paulsen cited Arab Spring and the mobilization of volunteers during the Mid-Valley floods in January 2012 as examples of social media catalyzing meaningful, positive impacts in a community.
Manley’s list of service activities is lengthy and includes tutoring middle school students and playing games with residents in a nursing home. She credited her older sister for leading her to get involved.
“I don’t feel like I do that much,” she said. “When it’s on paper, I guess I do.”
Manley wants to study pharmacy, but an inner civil war is brewing as she decides between Oregon State University and the University of Oregon. Her mother, Gina Manley, is partial to OSU, being an alumna herself, but she promised to be supportive if her daughter becomes a Duck.
Gina Manley said she was proud of, but not surprised by, her daughter’s recognition.
“She’s not home a lot and spends her Saturdays helping others,” she said.