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Local girls nominated for Rising Star Award

Submitted by Jessica Vik

Washington STEM, ESD 112, and Career Connect SW held their 2nd ever Rising Star dinner on Tuesday, June 13, at the EDS 112 Conference Center in Vancouver. A taco/burrito buffet was served before the program started for the girls nominated, their families, nominators, and school district superintendents. These three partners were on the hunt for young thinkers, scientists, engineers, inventors, entrepreneurs, and leaders who have inspired others with their STEM experiences, in and outside the classroom. The Rising Star Award highlights girls who will become the next generation of STEM leaders.

There were 19 girls nominated from the southwest regions covering Naselle all the way to White Salmon, WA. Two of the girls nominated were from our local Wahkiakum and Naselle schools: Reagan Hoogendoorn and Alia Lebovitz. They both have an interest in STEM and have both been a part of the robotics teams for the past couple of years. "It was a very hard choice to choose the regional winners that moved on to the next round," said Vickei Hrdina of ESD 112. The nominations were sent to the three boards: Columbia River (Cowlitz, Wahkiakum, and Pacific), Clark, and The Gorge (Skamania and Klickitat). Alia was chosen for the Columbia River Region. She was awarded a $250 stipend from Career Connect SW. "I would like to commend Alia for her hard work. Not only is she a leader amongst her peers academically, but she is also involved in a variety of school activities and always represents our district to the best of her abilities. I am very proud of her. She is well deserving," commented Superintendent Lisa Nelson. The three regional winners were sent to Washington STEM to choose the final winner.

The 2023-2024 Rising Star award was given to Lilli McCauley, a sophomore of Columbia High School in White Salmon, WA. She received a $500 stipend, STEM related goodies and a trip to the Microsoft Bellevue campus. She will get to connect with other STEM professionals and be a feature on the Washington STEM website. "Lilli has been active in developing assistive devices for people with disabilities and challenges. She helped design and prototype a stuffy that enables a 10-year-old White Salmon Girl with severe mental and physical challenges, to communicate with her mother remotely," wrote Jack Perrin who nominated Lilli.

Brent Freeman, Wahkiakum School District Superintendent, was excited for these girls who were nominated. As he crunched the numbers on the girls in the Washington school system, he conveyed the honor of being nominated to Alia and Reagen. Both girls are now seniors; graduating with the class of 2024.


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