By Maria Wyllie Explore Big Sky Associate Editor

BIG SKY – Lone Peak High School seniors Tate Tatom and Trevor House have been accepted early decision to two of the nation’s most competitive universities – the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., and California’s Stanford University.

Tatom, the school’s three-time Class ‘C’ state golf champion, signed with the Air Force in November. He says he’s always had his sights on military school, but the Air Force’s golf program was a deciding factor.

“When I was little I was always interested in the military,” he said. “I actually wanted to go to the United States Military Academy, but when I started to get Division 1-interest for golf, Air Force has the best golf team. The more I researched it, it seemed like a better place to be.”

Tatom said he plans on studying either military history or political science.

House, born and raised in Big Sky, attributes his acceptance to Stanford in part to his positive experience growing up here.

“I can’t express how much this high school has brought me to where I need to be,” House said. “It’s such a small community and a wonderful town to grow up in.”

LPHS Program Coordinator Brenda Yahraes, who helps the students with the application process, echoed the same sentiment, praising the community’s strong support of the school.

“There are many groups and individuals who support the students through the arts, travel opportunities, extracurricular activities, and technology,” she said. “This community really helps fund and supply opportunities for kids that they might not have elsewhere.”

Yahraes says the school’s rigorous graduation requirements paired with broad experiences including the Expedition Program and senior capstone project have helped set them up for success.

In the Expedition Program each high school class goes on a different 3-day camping and wilderness exploration in Montana. For the senior capstone project, students must complete 80 hours of community service and have a travel experience or internship that is career and future related.

“To be able to capture those things in their [application] essays gives them a more worldly view, which is exciting for [colleges],” Yahraes said. “And they do very well academically.”

Yahraes added that coming from a small, rural town in Montana like Big Sky is advantageous in the application process.

“It’s a different kind of kid for schools, so they get that diverse range of students,” she said.