BLOUNTVILLE — A Sullivan South High School junior has won a scholarship worth more than $20,000, one that will allow her to earn a private pilot’s license this summer.

Savannah Vicars — who has worked three years in the Sullivan South Air Force Junior ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps) — is one of 250 high schoolers nationwide to win the scholarship. She hasn’t been assigned a university where she will take the course to seek the license, but she said she hopes it will be in coastal North Carolina.

“I will definitely make you guys proud,” Vicars said from a remote location during Thursday night’s Board of Education meeting, where Director of Schools David Cox showed an image of a certificate she will receive.

Retired Air Force Master Sgt. Don Shawver operates the AFJROTC program at South with retired Lt. Col. Jack Rickman, senior instructor. They will run the new program at West Ridge High School when it opens in August. Shawver said this marks the third time in three years a South student has won the scholarship.

The program began four years ago but was not held last year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Shawver and Rickman said the competition takes into account academics and testing. It also didn’t hurt that Vicars already soloed with a flight instructor.

Shawver said the student will be using an aircraft worth about $2 million and that her goal is to get her professional pilot’s license.

“That’s something not a whole lot of high schoolers get to do,” Shawver said. In addition, the college flight classes will earn Vicars college credit, he said. He said Vicars hopes to get an academy appointment and a JROTC scholarship.

Imagination Library board recognized

The BOE gave a certificate in person for the Sullivan County Imagination Library to Chris Manly, who serves on the SCIL board. The organization recently distributed its millionth book.

“I’ve got a boat load of these books at my house. They were the first books my kids read,” BOE member Matthew Spivey said.

Manly said he learned to love reading from his grandfather.

“He was constantly reading,” Manly said. “He had that fire of imagination in him.”

Manly said the local program, part of the statewide Dolly Parton initiative, gives out about 6,500 books a month through the mail and supplies books to about 80% of the children up to age 5 in the county.

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