Claire Scott, a senior at Juneau-Douglas High School: Kalé, has been named a 2021 National Merit Scholarship winner. She is the only student in Alaska to receive the honor this year. In addition to a perfect grade point average, she has published two graphic novels. Here, she shows off her second published comic book, A Most Peculiar Alarm Clock, at Alaska Robotics Gallery on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019. (Michael Penn /Juneau Empire File)

JDHS senior named National Merit Scholar

She is Alaska’s only 2021 recipient

This story has been updated to reflect that Claire Scott is a U.S. Presidential Scholar candidate, not a winner as was originally reported. The article has been updated to reflect that.

Juneau is home to Alaska’s only 2021 National Merit Scholarship winner.

Claire Scott, a senior at Juneau-Douglas Kalé High School, was recently named a National Merit Scholar, one of approximately 1,000 distinguished high school seniors nationwide to earn the distinction and accompanying scholarship.

Scott is an accomplished student, artist, author, workshop host and community volunteer. She’s published two graphic novels and contributed art to local and international charitable efforts.

“Something like the National Merit Scholarship program is one way we are able to showcase academic excellence in the school district. It’s really a positive accolade for the work students and faculty are doing here,” said Paula Casperson, principal at JDHS. “Claire is such a unique student in her age group. She excels academically, but she also has done this whole level of inquiry in writing her own book.”

Great Scott! This 16-year-old Juneau student has published two graphic novels

In addition to being named a National Merit Scholar, Scott has also been named a U.S. Presidential Scholar candidate, won the Alaska Heart of the Arts award and was awarded the National Gold Medal for American Visions and a National Gold Medal in Comic Art.

At JDHS, she is a member of the Academic Decathlon Team and on the yearbook staff. She is the founder of a creative writing club at the school and a member of the art club. She maintains a 4.0 GPA.

Scott is a multi-year Spelling Bee Winner and has run with the cross country team during her academic career.

“That’s an incredible honor, and she’s really deserving,” said Pat Race, co-owner of Alaska Robotics and a local mentor to Scott in her artistic and publishing pursuits. “She’s a good person. Very creative, studious and introspective. She’s put in a lot of hard work, and she deserves every award she receives.”

Race recalled talking to Scott several years ago about her plans to author graphic novels when she came to his shop to attend workshops with a visiting artist.

“She would talk about her projects at the workshops, and lo and behold, she has brought these books to life. It was pretty incredible. That was the first time I knew she had the tenacity to follow through. It takes someone special to go through the process of creating and seeing it through to completion. She was compelled to do that,” he said, adding that her books, “Meow Cats United” and “A Most Peculiar Alarm Clock” are now carried at his store downtown.

Although she’s won many awards, Scott said she was surprised when her school counselor told her that she had been named a National Merit Scholar.

“It means a lot. I take my education very seriously. It’s quite an honor to me,” Scott said. “ I’d like to thank all my teachers from Sayeik: Gastineau, Dzantik’i Heeni, and JDHS. It’s meant the world to me.”

Scott said she is planning a career in comics, though she has not yet decided where she will attend college in the fall.

“I’ve always loved storytelling and art. This is the best way to do that,” she said.

Brushes with greatness: Juneau students earn recognition in national art competition

About the award

The National Merit Scholarship Award consideration process begins each fall when students take the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which serves as an initial screen of program entrants. According to a news release from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, about 1.5 million high school students from about 21,000 high schools begin the consideration process each year.

Those with qualifying scores go to provide additional applications to compete through the semi-finalist and finalist phases. This year, 16,000 finalists were identified, and Scott was selected from that pool.

To win the designation, students must have an out-standing academic record and be endorsed and recommended by a high school official.

• Contact reporter Dana Zigmund at or 907-308-4891.

More in News

The Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Aurora forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Nov. 27

In this photo provided by the National Transportation Safety Board, NTSB investigator Clint Crookshanks, left, and member Jennifer Homendy stand near the site of some of the wreckage of the DHC-2 Beaver, Wednesday, May 15, 2019, that was involved in a midair collision near Ketchikan. The National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday that the Federal Aviation Administration should tighten rules about minimum visibility during flights and require more weather training for pilots who fly around Ketchikan.  (Peter Knudson/NTSB via AP)
Safety board recommends new measures for Alaska air tours

The board wants regulations for Ketchikan similar to requirements in Hawaii and the Grand Canyon.

Harbor seals have a face full of whiskers, which the seals use to follow hydrodynamic wakes left by prey fish; even a blind seal can track a fish this way, discriminating victims by size and shape and direction of movement.  (Courtesy Photo / Jos Bakker)
On the Trails: The sense of touch

Touch is a mechanical sense, detecting physical stimuli such as pressure, texture,… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Tuesday, Nov. 29

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Saturday, Nov. 26

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Sugar Bear Alaskan Treasures, seen here, was one of many artist vendors featured at the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska Indigenous Artists & Vendors Holiday Market from noon to 5 p.m. on Friday through Sunday at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)
Indigenous Holiday Market features local artists

Market’s first return since 2018.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Thursday, Nov. 24

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

A member of the Juneau Gun Club helps participants with shooting clay targets, one of many events featured at the club’s annual Thanksgiving turkey shoot. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)
Ready, aim, gobble: Juneau Gun Club hosts annual Turkey Shoot

No turkeys were harmed in the making of this article.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Wednesday, Nov. 23

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read