RIGBY — Rigby High School senior Megan Clements is leaving her impact on Jefferson School District 251 in more ways than one.
The class’ valedictorian was the first to create an American Sign Language club at Rigby High School. She’s also the first student from the district to be named a United States Presidential Scholar finalist — one of the highest honors a high school senior can receive.
Earlier this month, Clements was named to the 55th class of Presidential Scholars, a national-level award that recognizes high school seniors on the basis of outstanding academic performance, artistic achievements, technical excellence, essays, community service, leadership and commitment to high ideals.
The application included five essays, letters of recommendation, transcripts and SAT/ACT scores, according to the United State Department of Education’s website.
Clements will be just one of 161 students across the nation who will visit the White House on June 23.
“I’m excited,” said Clements, who finished with a 4.0 grade point average. “It should be interesting to meet all the other scholars. That will be cool. It’s just a great way to finish out my high school career.”
The national award recognizes Clements’ multiple academic accomplishments, but it doesn’t tell you everything about her.
Born with a birth defect called a diaphragmatic hernia, Clements eventually caught a high fever as a baby and lost her hearing by the age of the 3.
Originally born in the Chicago area, Clements has bounced around from Charlotte, North Carolina to Blackfoot and then to Rigby at the beginning of her freshman year.
Losing her hearing and moving frequently, though, hasn’t stopped her from reaching her goals.
She’s a member of the Rigby Rotary Club, a community service group with international ties. She pole vaulted for the Trojans’ track team — eventually writing one of her U.S Presidential Scholarship essays on the spiritual connection between vaulting over a high bar and overcoming life’s obstacles.
She said she started the ASL club as a freshman to meet more people and help teach the language to people who are unfamiliar with it.
“Meghan is one of those kids that you wish every student in high school was because they just do their job,” Rigby High School principal Bryan Lords said. “They do what they’re supposed to. ... She’s so active and so busy and then she had her hearing problem since she was 3-years-old. She’s just a go-getter and a hard worker, and that’s what I love about her.”
Next, Clements will look to study biology at Utah State University for a year this fall before serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and teaching ASL.
After that, she wants to go to medical school and one day be a physician.
“I just really like learning how everything works,” Clements said. “I just like learning about what makes us who we are.”