One of Soddy-Daisy High School's top students will receive many honors as she graduates, with perhaps the biggest honor coming two months early.  Anna Skiles is respected and admired by her teachers and friends at Soddy-Daisy High.  As a student, she consistently makes top grades.  In JROTC, she's an officer who leads by example.  Soon, she'll be visiting Washington DC, where she's being honored as one of only two Tennesseans to win the $22,000 Horatio Alger Scholarship. She says if she can do it, anyone can.

"I hear people make excuses, if their parents are divorced, or have other setbacks, but you have to keep moving forward," Anna said.

To be eligible for the Alger scholarship, students must display perseverance and integrity in overcoming adversity.  Anna's home life has been unstable. It has been her motivation to get a good education, and excel.

"That's what one of my essays was about, if your childhood is troubled,  you're more likely to be on a bad track.  You have to work hard to overcome these things," she said.

Among her proudest achievements at Soddy-Daisy was a JROTC project to collect and distribute dresses to girls for a school dance.  Her commanding officer said the project succeeded because of Anna's hard work and tenacity.

"We had quite a few girls who couldn't afford a dress, and she came up with them in a short time," Major Eric Redlin said.  "I could go on and on about things like that."

Later this month, she'll be honored along with 105 other students from around the nation, with an all-expenses paid trip to our nation's capital, celebrating her accomplishments, and setting her up with scholarship money for her future.  She tells other students, "Never give up." Anna adds, "I mean, I've taken the ACT six times, if you just make one point better, you get so much more from it." 

Soddy-Daisy High has had state winners for the Horatio Alger scholarship before, but never a national winner.  Anna plans to go to Maryville (TN) College, if she can scrape up an additional $6,000 in tuition money, so she can meet her goal of becoming an English as Second Language teacher.