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On Wednesday, June 8, the Rotary Club of Franklin held its annual scholarship program, at which five outstanding Franklin High School graduates were awarded academic scholarships, including the Roy Rickman Scholarship.

This year, Martin Lenski was the recipient of the 2011 Roy Rickman Scholarship and will attend North Carolina State University majoring in engineering. He is active in Interact, Math Club, National Honors Society, Track Team and Cross Country. Lenski received the $3,000 renewable scholarship.


“We are blessed to have grown up here in Nantahala, Land of the Noonday Sun,” said Nantahala School’s valedictorian, Lauren Gearhart, when she addressed her class at the school’s commencement ceremony on Saturday, June 4. “The haven we have here is like a well-kept secret in our lush, green mountains.”

Indeed, the small school in the mountains seems to grow talent like a greenhouse, year after year, turning out more outstanding citizens than it has a right to. The Class of 2011, with nine graduates, has been no exception.


Nantahala High School valedictorian Lauren Gearhart is the recipient of more than $23,000 in scholarships.

Gearhart, who graduated Saturday, June 4, has been accepted at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Honors College of Engineering, where she will study engineering for four years then transfer to a university in North Carolina to pursue a doctorate degree.

In addition, Gearhart has received the N.C. Veterans Scholarship which provides for free tuition, room and board allowance and exemption for mandatory fees for four academic years.


This year saw the passing of Robbie Newton, principal of Nantahala School, after a long battle with cancer. Newton, 39, was loved and respected by the students and teachers at Nantahala School, and colleagues spoke of the positive role-model and inspiration he had been.

“It’s a huge loss for the community and the school. He touched the lives of many students and colleagues over the past 15 or so years that he worked at Nantahala School,” said Franklin High School principal Chris Baldwin who had worked with Newton for a number of years.


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