Community editor and columnist Kris Capps is a longtime resident of Fairbanks and Denali Park. Contact her at, in the office at 459-7546 or by cell at 322-6334. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMKris.

Nine Interior students are among 4,500 graduating high school seniors named to the 2021 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program.

They were selected from nearly 3.6 million students expected to graduate from high school this year. Selection is based on superior academic and artistic achievements, leadership qualities, strong character and involvement in community and school activities.

That list will be narrowed down to 600 finalists in early April and the scholars will be announced in May. Every year, up to 161 U.S. Presidential Scholars are chosen from among that year’s senior class, representing excellence in education and the promise of greatness in America’s youth.

If circumstances permit, the scholars are invited to Washington, DC in June for the National Recognition Program, featuring various events and enrichment activities and culminating in the presentation of the Presidential Scholars Medallion during a White House-sponsored ceremony. 

Interior students selected include: Ayden R. Accola, Lathrop High School; Ezra Adasiak, Lathrop; Casey Lambries, North Pole High School; Ryland Marvel, Lathrop; Luke Millam, Lathrop; Thea Millam, Lathrop; Gage E. Tilly, West Valley High School; Kyle Van Hatten, Lathrop; Anna R. Wolf, West Valley. 

This program was established in 1964 to recognize graduating seniors for their accomplishments in a variety of areas: academic success, leadership and service to school and community. It expanded in 1979 to recognize students demonstrating exceptional scholarship and talent in the visual, creative, and performing arts. The program expanded again in 2015 to recognize students who demonstrate ability and accomplishment in career and technical fields. 


Scholarships added

Here’s good news for students seeking scholarships. The Fairbanks Retired Teachers Association (FRTA) has added a scholarship to its 2021 list. Five $1,500 scholarships are now available to graduating high school seniors attending public high schools in the Fairbanks North Star Borough in 2021.

Applications are available at local high school counselor offices and on the FRTA website at Applications must be postmarked by March 15, 2021 and mailed to P.O. Box 81071, Fairbanks, AK 99708. For more information, contact Judy Rae Smith at or 907-455-6860. 


DeWitt scholarships

The Alaska Community Foundation offers two $2,500 Donald R. DeWitt scholarships this year. DeWitt was a longtime math teacher at both Lathrop and West Valley High Schools.

“He quietly provided scholarship funds since 2010 through the Fairbanks Retired Teachers Association to support Fairbanks students,” according to the Alaska Community Foundation website. “He has bequeathed his estate to support and encourage Fairbanks North Star Borough high school students to further their academic pursuits.”

Those applications are open Feb. 4 through March 31. Links to these scholarships are also available on the FRTA website or at


Lathrop Alumni Scholarship

The Lathrop High School Alumni Scholarship enters its second year in 2021. It offers a $2,000 scholarship to a graduating student who worked hard to overcome early year challenges and who plans to continue his/her education at a university or technical school.

Alaska Community Foundation administers the scholarship. Applications are accepted Feb. 4 through 5 p.m. on March 31.

Questions? Email or call 907-334-6700. 

This scholarship was initially created by seven graduates of Lathrop High School’s Class of 1961, at their 55th high school reunion. All successful business people now, they developed the scholarship as a way to give back to their alma mater.

It started with a collection of $6,000. To date the fund has received donations of $36,785 from 42 donors. A $2,000 scholarship was awarded in 2020 and the fund now rests at $37,168. The goal now is to reach the $50,000 level and qualify to become an endowed fund at Alaska Community Foundation. Once fully endowed, 4% to 5% of the fund will be granted as scholarships. A scholarship will be awarded in 2021.

The fund founders include C.B. Bettisworth, Claudia Harris, Alan Richardson, Jeff Cook, James Moran, Stefanie O’Brien and Margaret Cox Rich.

Reach columnist/community editor Kris Capps at Follow her on Twitter @FDNMKris.