One of Payson High School's most accomplished student athletes has been nominated for the Eighth Annual Wendy's High School Heisman Scholarship Program.
Senior Brittany Curtis was recently chosen one of about 100 Arizona nominees who will participate in the program scheduled to culminate Dec. 6 to 9 at the Wendy's High School Heisman Awards Ceremony in New York City. The festivities will air on national television just prior to a live ESPN broadcast of the College Heisman Memorial Trophy Awards.
Curtis said she was encouraged to submit an application for the Heisman scholarship by Marla Mileham in the PHS Guidance Center.
Weeks after completing the lengthy questionnaire, which included listing her athletic, scholastic and citizenship contributions, Curtis learned she would be representing PHS in the program.
According to Heisman officials, the program honors the nation's top high school seniors who best exemplify a supreme "scholar-citizen-athlete."
Among Curtis' accomplishments at PHS are maintaining a perfect 4.0 grade-point average while enrolled in many advanced placement classes. Currently, she ranks third academically in the graduating class of 2002.
In addition to her classroom accomplishments, Curtis has participated in the Lady Longhorn volleyball program for the past four years.
One of the requirements of the Heisman program is that nominees participate in at least one of 32 sports officially sanctioned by the National Federation of High Schools.
Throughout the fall volleyball season, Coach Chris Schwind lauded Curtis, a utility player, for her unselfish contributions to the team effort.
In addition to volleyball, Curtis played on the Lady Horn softball team for three seasons, but said she might pass on the sport this spring due to a knee injury suffered last year.
When she's not studying or practicing sports, Curtis is an active member of the PHS Students Against Destructive Decisions Program (SADD), is a DARE role model and a peer counselor for younger students.
Her responsibilities as a school role model, she said, are particularly challenging in that she accompanies a DARE police officer into classrooms and then serves as a sounding board for younger student's questions.
"That's kind of cool," she said.
Curtis also thrives in the political arena, having been involved in student government since she was a freshman. Last year, she was the junior class secretary. Currently, she serves as the student body treasurer.
Just as she contributes to the school and community, Curtis is a member of the Manzanita Ward of the Mormon Church.
Her plans include attending Northern Arizona University. After her application to NAU was officially accepted weeks ago, the university awarded her a two-third tuition waiver and $500 per semester. Her goal, she said, is to find even more college scholarship assistance, possibly from the Heisman program.
The program was created through a partnership between Wendy's International, the National Association of Secondary School Principals and the Downtown Athletic Club the home of the Heisman Memorial Trophy since 1935.
According to program officials, it was founded to recognize high school seniors nationwide who have learned to collaborate and appreciate the interrelation of academics, athletics and community service.
Nominees, like Curtis, have enhanced the quality of life, inspired others and embody the ideal characteristics of today's leading youth, officials said.
The program has five phases nomination, state finalists, state winners, national finalists and national winners.
Entries are evaluated by a scholastic review board and then passed on to a panel of judges that includes past Heisman Memorial Trophy recipients as well as education, business and community leaders.
Former Ohio State football star Archie Griffin, the only two-time winner of the prestigious Heisman Trophy, is the program's spokesperson.
Griffin will be on hand Dec. 8 to announce the national winner.
In addition to receiving scholarship assistance for herself, Curtis could earn anywhere from $500 to $4000 for Payson High School should she advance to the state and national finals.
Heisman officials have created a website where students, like Curtis, can track their progress as the program heats up this fall at www.wendyshighschoolheisman.com.