Five area students earn Sterling Scholar honors

Five high school seniors from San Juan County earned the title of Sterling Scholar and 14 more were named runners-up at the annual Southeast Utah Sterling Scholar competition.

Winners include Jordan Clinger of San Juan High School in the Drama and Vocal Performance category, Xavier Martin of Whitehorse High School in the Dance category, and three students from Monticello High School, including Paul Reay in the Science category, Cory Bunker in the Skilled and Technical Education category, and Olivia Chamberlain in the Family and Consumer Science category.

The competition, which took place on March 22, was distance-delivered this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Judges and officials worked with the Sterling Scholar Committee of Southeastern Utah to complete the competition online. They announced the winners of the 14 categories.

Approximately 70 students from San Juan, Grand, Emery, and Carbon counties competed in 14 categories, including 33 nominees from schools in San Juan County.

Six students from Monticello High School earned runner-up honors, including Kennedy Brewer, Grant Nebeker, Tuff Adair, Barbara Abernathy, Joe Boyle, and Alan Pettit.

Students from Whitehorse High School who earned runner-up honors are Joy Parker, Kassidy Lee, and RueShunda Jim.

Five students from San Juan High School earned runner-up honors, including Lydia Pugh, Isabel Dean Young, Francisca Davila, Rachel Barrett, and Bryant Francom.

Students from nine secondary schools participated in the competition, including from Monument Valley, Navajo Mountain, Whitehorse, San Juan, Monticello, Grand County, Green River, Emery, and Carbon high schools.

Sponsored by the Larry H. & Gail Miller Family Foundation, Deseret News, KSL, and Emery Telcom, the Southeastern Utah Sterling Scholars honors the top graduating seniors from schools throughout southeastern Utah. Similar contests are held in other geographic areas of the state.

Nominees are judged on scholarship, leadership, citizenship, and character. They prepare a portfolio outlining scholastic and extracurricular accomplishments.

In addition, nominees are interviewed by three judges in their respective categories. A winner and two runners-up are selected in each category.

Winners receive $2,500 and a tablet computer, while runners-up receive $1,000.

Utah colleges, universities, and technical schools also offer full- or part-tuition scholarships to winners and runners-up.

Jordan Clinger
Drama & Vocal Performance, San Juan High

Jordan Clinger is an actress, singer, and leader. She has been involved in over a dozen productions during her time in high school.

She has also been a member of HOSA, FBLA, NHS, the Freshman Mentoring Program, and Student government. She has maintained a 3.97 GPA throughout high school while taking many advanced placement and honors classes.

Jordan would like to thank her parents, her coaches, and everybody who has supported her throughout her drama career. She plans on attending SUU nursing school in the fall. Jordan is the daughter of Mitzi and Layne Nielson.

Paul Reay
Science, Monticello High

Paul Reay really likes to throw his weight around. He has maintained a 4.0 GPA, is the class Valedictorian, and can deadlift 485 pounds.

When he is not throwing metal around, hauling hay, or attending track or play practice, he works on improving his skills as a blacksmith and a craftsman. He has even built an autonomous source-powered negative feedback solar tracking device. He is the son of Dr. Paul and Isabel Reay.

Cory Bunker
Skilled & Technical Education, Monticello High

Cory Bunker would like to thank all the teachers, mentors, coaches, and friends who have helped him on his high school journey.

He is grateful for the opportunity he has been given to participate in the Sterling Scholar Competition, which has allowed him to reflect back on his friendships and involvement in school, his community, and his church. 

Cory enjoys spending time with friends and family in the great outdoors. His hobbies also include raising livestock, woodwork, welding, trail running, and playing basketball. 

He stays very active serving in his community, church, and school.  He enjoys mentoring and working with younger athletes and kids that desire to learn. 

Cory won the Best of Show award at the State Fair with a bed he designed and built.  He is an all-state athlete in cross country and track and is the son of Brad and Julie Bunker of Monticello.

Olivia Chamberlain
Family & Consumer Science, Monticello High

Olivia Chamberlain is the daughter of Nathan and Ramona Chamberlain. She is involved in many clubs and organizations in her community.

She is the FCCLA (Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America) President for Monticello’s Chapter and has competed in an FCCLA star event. Her Star Event was competing in an Interior Design project in which she received a gold medal and an opportunity to compete at state.

She volunteers many hours in her community, whether it be at the food bank or taking her time to beautify her community. She is a very hard worker and never backs down from a challenge.

Olivia is very grateful for the experience Sterling Scholar has provided her and is excited to represent Monticello High as a Sterling Scholar.

Xavier Martin
Dance, Whitehorse High

Xavier Martin comes from Navajo White Mesa, located six miles southeast of Montezuma Creek. He wishes first to thank his parents, the well-respected Tracy and Bernita Martin. Xavier also honors the many elders who have shepherded him toward a deep understanding and respect for his traditional dance form as well as teachers and coaches who have guided him through his academic and sports careers.

Xavier recognizes how his involvement in traditional dance provides a way to heal those who are ailing, thereby erasing the negative effects that all of us as human beings face. He loves playing basketball, running cross-country and track, as well as dancing pow wow.

Xavier is a student who enjoys school, especially math. He is preparing for his dream job as an Accountant, hoping one day to work on one of the highest floors, in the tallest building, in the biggest city!

San Juan Record

49 South Main St
PO Box 879
Monticello, UT 84535

Phone: 435.587.2277
Fax: 435.587.3377
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