By Joseph T. O’Connor Explore Big Sky Managing Editor

CHICAGO – A Lone Peak High School senior is guaranteed at least $20,000 in scholarship assistance to one of the top colleges in the country. Now a finalist for an Elks Foundation scholarship, Trevor House beat out more than 19,000 students who applied from across the country.

House, who will attend Stanford University in the fall, was named one of 20 finalists for the Elks National Foundation Most Valuable Student scholarships.

“I got an email the last week of March [and] stood there in shock for a minute,” said House, 18. “My mom thought something was wrong. I was just super pumped.”

Each finalist will receive at least $20,000 in scholarship money, according to an Elks National Foundation press release. During an upcoming weekend in Chicago, that money could more than double.

From April 24-26, House will join the other finalists in the Windy City where they will compete for six scholarships ranging from $30,000 to $50,000. While judges will take into account contestants’ ability to relate to their peers and others during the weekend, in the end it comes down to a 20-minute interview with the national committee.

House says Big Sky’s support played a major role in his success.

“We have such a tight and unique community,” said House, pointing to blood drives and decorating Big Sky for LPHS’ homecoming as examples of his involvement in the area. “We’re trying to create an identity for ourselves. It’s small-town America making a difference.”

But House helped himself, as did the rest of the field. “They boast an average GPA of 4.283 on a 4.0 scale, collectively volunteered for 278,591 hours throughout high school, and are all leaders in their communities,” the press release said. “Trevor House stood out as one of the best among this accomplished group.”

LPHS Program Coordinator Brenda Yahraes called House’s tenacity his strong suit.

“Trevor consistently beats the odds,” Yahraes wrote in an email, highlighting Stanford’s admission rate of 5 percent. “His odds of getting the Elks Scholarship were 1 in 20,000. It is persistence and dedication. LPHS is so proud of Trevor and his hard work.”

House says this determination is a matter of ignoring the odds and attempting a task even in the face of adversity. He leaves some advice for next year’s graduating class.

“Apply for anything,” said House, also an avid sports fan. “Never doubt yourself. It’s like Wayne Gretzky said: ‘You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.’ I gave it a shot.”

Contest winners will be announced on April 30 at