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By C. Jayden Smith

The San Clemente Historical Society this week named the two San Clemente High seniors who have each been awarded $1,000 college scholarships from the organization.

Nancy Polanco and Shayna Sparks will receive the scholarships, as they stood out amongst the record 51 applications the Historical Society’s Scholarship Committee reviewed. 

“We are so proud of these two young women and all of the students who applied for the scholarships” Historical Society President Larry Culbertson said in a press release announcing the scholarship winners. “We hope they all stay in touch with the Historical Society throughout their lives.”

According to the Historical Society, Polanco, who grew up in Guatemala, immigrated by herself to San Clemente to obtain a high school education and thrived. She achieved a 4.2 grade point average, simultaneously worked several jobs and participated in school leadership organizations, overcoming a lack of proficiency in English.

While the University of San Diego has accepted her application for enrollment, she currently has pending applications with the University of California, San Diego and Stanford. 

Sparks, another example of a student active in school organizations, earned a 4.7 GPA while competing in track and field and in soccer.

Sparks has played in the school’s Chamber Orchestra, as well as at Casa Romantica with the violin. 

Suzi Klickstein, the chair of the Scholarship Committee, noted that despite the pandemic-related challenges high school students have faced over the past couple of years, the quality of the applicants has remained the same.

“We were concerned that students having to learn remotely instead of in class might impact the quality, but it didn’t,” said Klickstein, who had reviewed all the applicants along with board member Marilyn Wigglesworth and Pat Corless—all of whom are former teachers.

C. Jayden Smith

C. Jayden Smith graduated from Dana Hills High in 2018 before pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in digital and broadcast journalism from the University of North Texas. After graduating in December 2020, he reported for the Salina Journal in Salina, Kansas. Jayden loves college football and bothering his black lab named Shadow.

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