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$60,000 awarded to Spokane’s brightest high school seniors

April 16, 2019 GMT

Youthful curiosity was rewarded Monday night at the Spokane Convention Center – with applause, medals and even some cash prizes.

That was nice, but for Spokane’s brightest, curiosity is its own reward.

“I just want to delve into all that I can,” said Brenden Archer, a senior at Shadle Park who won the $4,000 top prize for Fine Arts at the 27th annual Spokane Scholars Foundation Awards Banquet.

Archer did more than that. He excels at half a dozen musical instruments, plays a mean game of chess and owns a 4.0 GPA and a 1530 score on the Scholastic Aptitude Test.

And a few hours before earning the applause of a packed banquet hall, he won his tennis match at No. 1 singles for Shadle Park.

“To be artsy, be academic, be athletic … it’s been amazing,” Archer said. “I just want to glorify God in everything I do.”

Archer was among six seniors who received top awards in academic categories that also included English, world languages, mathematics, science and social studies.

Eighteen other scholars won awards ranging from $1,000 to $3,000. All told, 148 scholars were honored – for their grades, test scores and other achievements, but mostly for their relentless desire to learn more about the world around them.

Eric Matheison of Central Valley was the top award winner in math. He earned perfect 5s on six Advanced Placement tests.

But Matheison also learned enough about computer programming to earn a certification from Microsoft and write his own code in developing an electronic keyboard simulator to help introduce students to music.

“I always find it interesting and curious how people interact,” said Matheison, one of three $4,000 winners from Central Valley.

Matheison is active in the community, volunteering at retirement communities with his participation in music, and at Blessings Under the Bridge and Cancer Care Northwest.

Another CV senior, Jasmine Wen, won the top prize in English after being described by a teacher as “an outstanding young woman of uncompromising character and ability” and an “inspired writer” whose ability to analyze both fiction and nonfiction is “unsurpassed.”

Wen said she appreciates the ability of fiction to “transport you into a different world,” but stays grounded by reading the New York Times and the Economist.

Wen also has a 4.0 GPA, has scored no lower than a 4 on six AP tests, is an AP scholar with distinction, a National Commended Scholar, and scored a 1580 on the SAT test.

Spencer Taylor of Central Valley won the top prize in World Languages with proficiency in Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and French.

He also scored 1540 on the SAT and perfect 5s on four AP tests.

Deanna Dwyer of Lewis and Clark took home the top prize in science, partly with a perfect score in the ACT science test and her standing as this year’s valedictorian.

“She consistently demonstrates the skills required to succeed in every level of the sciences pursuing a planned future in medicine,” a teacher wrote of Dwyer.

North Central senior Nicholas Heimbigner is the $4,000 winner in social studies.

Described by a teacher as “one of the top 1-3 brightest, hardest-working, most curious students I have ever encountered,” Heimbigner maintains a 4.0 GPA, is a National Merit Commended Scholar, an AP scholar with Distinction, and has a 1540 SAT score.