Sept. 27, 2001 – The territory's high schools have seven new stars in their academic crowns — seniors who have qualified as semifinalists in the national 2002 Achievement Scholarship Competition. That the honor comes to these students is no surprise to their school administrators: Without exception, principals, headmistresses and counselors praise the youngsters as role models in many areas — academic, social, extracurricular, sports, music and community service.
The competition, sponsored by the privately financed National Merit Scholarship Corp., was initiated in 1964 to honor outstanding black students and to increase their educational opportunities. More than 110,000 students nationwide entered the competition this year, and 1,500 semifinalists have been chosen. Approximately 700 finalists will be selected early next year to receive college scholarship awards.
The Virgin Islands qualifiers are:
Latoya Best, Charlotte Amalie High School
Jellana Canton, St. Croix Country Day School
Noelene Jeffers, Good Hope School
Bobbie King, All Saints Cathedral School
Antoinette Nibbs, Antilles School
Nicholas Phillips, Antilles School
Elenoe Crew Smith, Antilles School.
Latoya, the daughter of Chriszilear Best, has been at CAHS from ninth grade. Principal Jeannette Smith said she is "very serious about her education," and guidance counselor Nan Mulcare notes that she takes challenging classes. She studies piano, is on the yearbook staff and holds a part-time job. Latoya, who says "I thank God for bringing me this far," is interested in a career in the field of child psychology. There are approximately 300 seniors at CAHS.
Jellana has been a student at Country Day since seventh grade. Guidance counselor Mariska Nurse calls her a "meticulous student" who has held leadership positions throughout her school days. Jellana, daughter of Jurenne Walcott, is editor-in-chief of the yearbook, is active in Future Business Leaders of America, sings in the school chorus, and is a founding member of the student task force. Her graduating class has 24 seniors.
Noelene has been at Good Hope School since first grade. She says she's "excited, and it's a great honor." The director of the Good Hope Upper School, Mary Jane Provost, observes that not only is Noelene an excellent student, but for three years she has been yearbook editor — an unmatched feat of endurance. Noelene, daughter of Noel and Ermine, has tutored sixth-grade students for three years under the U.S. Attorney's mentoring program. Her senior class has 33 members.
Bobbie has been an All Saints student since third grade. Principal Louise S. Brady is "delighted and proud" but not surprised, because Bobbie has been an excellent student and has received highest honors on earlier national standard tests. Brady says he is an excellent role model in his extracurricular and social activities, and she predicts he will move on to high levels. Bobbie is the son of Robert and Mytsookko King.
Of Antilles School's three honorees in a senior class of 42 students, Headmistress Kathleen Knoepfel said, "These students are outstanding in every way. They have already made us proud of them as students and contributors in the community."
Antoinette's activities at Antilles include being secretary of the National Honor Society, singing with the school group Expressions. She also is a member of the Territorial Court Rising Stars Steel Orchestra, and last summer she worked as an instructor for the steelpan group. She has been at Antilles since ninth grade. The daughter of Cecily Charles and Alfonso Nibbs, she does volunteer work with peer tutoring, Family Resource Center and the Humane Society of St. Thomas.
Nicholas plays soccer and is a former captain of Antilles' cross country team. He has received coach's awards for cross country. He has been a student at Antilles since the age of 3. A member of the National Honor Society, he works with volunteer programs that benefit the community. The son of Juanita Young and John Phillips, he works part-time during the school year, and last summer he worked in the food-service field.
Crew, the name she goes by, is senior class president at Antilles, and she has been a class officer every year of high school. She has received coach's awards for citizenship in tennis and basketball and is a student of martial arts. Musically talented, she has won intermediate and advanced piano awards at the Arts Alive/Innovative Classical Music Competitions; she plays flute as well, and sings in her church choir and in the Antilles group Expressions. Crew, who started her studies at Antilles in fourth grade, is the daughter of Dr. Henry and Muriel Smith.
Despite such sterling credentials, the semifinalists cannot rest on their laurels.
The program provides that to be considered for Achievement Scholarship awards, "Semifinalists must advance to the finalist level of the competition by fulfilling a number of requirements." They must have a record of high academic performance throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by their school principal, and earn Scholastic Aptitude Test scores that confirm their earlier national testing performance.
In addition, each semifinalist and an official of his or her high school must complete a scholarship application in which they provide information about "the student's participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, and educational goals."
For further information, visit the National Achievement Scholarship Program web site.


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