Our future is bright

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It isn’t unheard of for our newspaper to be filled with features about local youngsters doing big, important things. But that doesn’t mean those accomplishments should be looked at as pedestrian because of the frequency of their occurrence. On the contrary. They should be highlighted.

And are, as evidenced by a recent issue that detailed two students from two different high schools achieving greatness in two very different fields of study.

First up, representing the left side of the brain:

A Kootenai High School student was one of 16,000 high school seniors named to the 2014 list of semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program. Shannon Riley said she was surprised to hear she earned the honor. The list represents less that one percent of high school seniors nationwide.

Shannon Riley was one of 16,000 seniors selected as a semifinalist in the National Merit Scholarship Program. She is a senior at Kootenai High School.

More than one million juniors from more than 22,000 high schools entered the 2014 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2012 Preliminary SAT/Nation Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. While she didn’t think she would do well enough to qualify for the program, Shannon said she does typically do well on standardized tests. She is now working with the school to submit a detailed scholarship application in order to compete for a spot as a finalist.

To become a finalist, a student must submit an application that includes information about his or her academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, honors and awards received.  A semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay and earn SAT scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance.

Shannon is the daughter of Lisa Hawdon and Dennis Riley, and she said she has plans to attend college and study biology after graduation.

And a quick flip through the pages of the newspaper shows how diverse the areas of achievement are, transitioning from science to a more right-brain dominated field, music.

Dylan Miller has earned the distinction as one of the most talented young musicians in the region. The St. Maries Middle School eighth graders has been accepted into the Coeur d’Alene Youth Orchestra. Only the most gifted young musicians from throughout northern Idaho and the Spokane area qualify to play with the prestigious group.

This is not only a first for a St. Maries student, but the manner in which Dylan earned the honor may also be a first for the orchestra.

Dylan Miller, with his instructor Jim Broyles, was accepted into the Coeur d'Alene Youth Orchestra after only two years working with the violin.

Dylan took fewer than two years to gain enough proficiency with the violin to earn a seat with the orchestra. He is the only student in the orchestra with fewer than two years of practice. Most begin with their instruments in third or fourth grade and are not accepted into the orchestra until high school.

The Coeur d’Alene Youth Orchestra performs three concerts a year and participates in competition in western Washington annually. Its next performance is at 7 p.m. Nov. 25 at the Kroc Center in Coeur d’Alene.

Dylan is the son of Brian and Jenifer Miller of St. Maries and has a 10-year-old sister Kirsten.

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