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WHS Junior Alexandra Harden Named Sunshine State Scholar

June 20, 2019

Wakulla High School upcoming senior Alexandra “Ally” Harden was honored as Wakulla School District’s 2019 Sunshine State Scholar at a conference in Orlando on June 13 and 14.

She was one of 103 juniors statewide to earn this award.

The annual conference was sponsored by such entities as Lockheed Martin, AT&T, KYRA Solutions, the Florida Department of Education, and Florida’s state colleges and universities, who celebrated the accomplishments of Florida’s elite students and provided a venue for the state’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) businesses, colleges, and universities to recruit their talents.

Every year, the Florida Department of Education and the Florida Education Foundation request each Florida school district to recommend one high achieving eleventh grade STEM student to join this prestigious group of peers.

Harden was chosen by a WHS committee because of her outstanding academic record, her interest in math and science, plus her nearly perfect ACT and SAT college entrance exam scores.

She started taking high school math and science courses while in middle school and now has a perfect 4.0 unweighted grade point average and a weighted grade point average of 4.41.

Taking the toughest math and science courses at WHS, Harden just completed Advanced Placement Calculus 1 and Advanced Placement Statistics, plus has excelled in WHS Engineering Academy courses Intro to Engineering Design and Principles of Engineering.

The purpose of the Sunshine State Scholars event is to show these top performing STEM students what Florida has to offer them in terms of in-state STEM college programs and STEM careers.

At the two-day event, Florida’s colleges and universities, plus employers in STEM fields, set up booths to show what they have to offer and to recruit these talented students.

“This year’s program also brought 103 high school STEM scholars together to conduct a ‘think tank’ on tough Florida challenges,” according to the Florida Department of Education.

In addition, the program honored each scholar for their significant academic accomplishments and celebrated the potential they represent for Florida.

Successful in Advanced Placement and Dual Enrollment math, science, English, social studies and other courses, Harden will graduate in 2020 already having earned many college credits.

A well-rounded student, Harden was a member of the 2019 WHS Odyssey of the Mind Team that qualified for World Finals by using their STEM skills in the world’s largest creative problem-solving competition.

“She also runs Cross Country for WHS, is on the WHS Soccer Team, in the National Honor Society and in the WHS Engineering Academy. It’s rare to be able to juggle so many areas successfully. Ally gives her all to everything she attempts,” said WHS Principal Mike Barwick.

Harden is the daughter of Charles and Holly Harden.

“As one of our own who attended Crawfordville Elementary, Riversprings Middle School, and now Wakulla High School, we are so proud of all that Ally has accomplished and look forward to following her continuing success in a STEM field,” added Superintendent Bobby Pearce.