Senior awarded $1,000 national scholarship

June 1, 2010

By Chantelle Lusebrink

Liberty High School senior Allison Bolgiano (left) is the recipient of a $1,000 national Principals Leadership Award scholarship for her academic performance and community service. She is one of 100 students in the nation to earn the scholarship. Above, Bolgiano kayaks in the Puget Sound near the San Juan Islands. It is one of her favorite hobbies. Contributed

Liberty High School senior Allison Bolgiano is ready to graduate and start a new chapter.

With prom coming up, the senior edition of the school’s Patriot Press newspaper on deadline and a summer job at the YMCA’s Camp Orkila on Orcas Island, she’s counting down the days.

She was recently awarded a $1,000 national Principals Leadership Award for her academic performance and community service. She is one of 100 students in the nation to earn the scholarship sponsored by the National Association of Secondary School Principals and Herff Jones Inc.

“I didn’t know how many other students submitted applications, but I was definitely happy to find out I was one of 100 in the nation,” she said.

More than 3,100 students applied for the scholarship. Bolgiano was the only winner from Washington state.

Participating high school principals throughout the country could nominate one senior to compete in this year’s program, according to a press release. Winners were selected based on their leadership skills; participation in service organizations and clubs; achievements in the arts and sciences; employment experience; and academic record.

Bolgiano has maintained a cumulative grade point average of 3.9, despite taking Advanced Placement classes in English, social studies, Spanish, science and mathematics. She’s managed to do that while being co-editor-in-chief of the school’s newspaper, being a member of the school’s student leadership, swimming for the school’s swim team and raising puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind.

With the scholarship, Bolgiano said she’s looking forward to attending Whitman College in Walla Walla this fall. The school also offered her a scholarship, she said.

“I knew sophomore year I wanted to go to a small liberal arts school,” she said. “I’m not quite sure what I’m going to study. Right now, I’m interested in politics or sociology, but I also enjoyed English in high school.”

Bolgiano’s interest in politics stems from more than five years on the city’s Youth Advisory Board, led by Recreation Coordinator Cathy Jones. Jones, she said, helped foster her interest in helping teens become more engaged in city government. With Jones, she was able to plan events like a lecture on the state’s death with dignity law and a viewing party of the 2008 presidential debates.

While Bolgiano said she is not sure what exactly her major will be, she is looking forward to the school’s Whitman Encounters program. The course is one year and includes 15 freshman that meet regularly and study together, making the transition to collegiate life easier. In the class, she said, students read great works of literature, including mythology, the Bible and modern works.

She is also looking forward to delving into the school’s outdoor clubs and events by planning trips with Whitman’s Outdoor Program.

“I love to kayak,” she said, adding she leads sea kayaking for campers at Camp Orkila. “I really hope to get involved in the outdoor program there, because I love to be outdoors and there are so many opportunities here in the Northwest.”

Bolgiano credits her success to the people who have helped her through her academic career to this point — her parents; her leader for guide-dog service, Sandy Bonsib; her English and journalism instructor Kris Daughters — and Principal Mike Deletis for recommending her.

“She has demonstrated academic achievement and service throughout her four years at Liberty,” Principal Mike Deletis, wrote in an e-mail. “In addition, she has a dedication of service to the community and others.”

“Allison is an excellent leader,” Daughters wrote in an e-mail. “She naturally takes the initiative to lead a group in the right direction. She has also had a lot of common sense and can predict problems before they occur. Her varied experiences as a participant on different community boards give her a very informed perspective.”

During college she said she is sure that she’ll continue to pursue journalistic writing by reporting for the college’s newspaper, The Pioneer.

“Allison is a student who is mature beyond her years,” Deletis wrote. “She combines humility and deep thinking when she expresses herself verbally or in writing.”

Chantelle Lusebrink: 392-6434, ext. 241 or Comment at

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