Juneau is home to Alaska’s only 2021 National Merit Scholarship winner.
Claire Scott, a senior at Juneau-Douglas Yadaa.at 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.”
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.
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 email@example.com or 907-308-4891.