award winning: khalea edwards
Kirkwood High School graduate Khalea Edwards (pictured above) spent her senior year educating as well as learning. She’s become an outspoken champion for social justice issues, and has received major recognition for it. Khalea traveled to New Jersey this spring to receive the Princeton Prize in Race Relations, a prestigious award given to high schoolers who lead in that area.

Khalea helped reinstate—and was president of—her school’s Social Justice Club, which meets weekly to discuss current issues in race relations. She wrote about it for the student newspaper, worked as a teaching assistant in the school’s ‘Africa to America Experience’ class, and led school staff development sessions on the subject. “Khalea has become a voice for issues of injustice,” says teacher Madeline Raimondo, who nominated her for the Princeton award. “She has elevated it to the forefront at our school.”

Khalea also was honored for her achievements during a KHS ceremony attended by then St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. “I’ve always been interested in black history,” she says. “But I noticed that we would learn about the same things every year—slavery, civil rights, the same historical figures, the same lessons. When I was a sophomore, I was glad to learn the school was introducing the ‘Africa to America’ class. It helps us have new conversations with each other and learn things we didn’t know.”

She plans to study at St. Louis Community College and eventually attend law school. “I want to be a teacher, attorney and activist,” she says. “All three have struck a chord with me, and I think they go together well. I want to educate people about social justice and oppression, and help them change for the better. I feel I’ve done a good job of bringing it to light at Kirkwood High, but I want to go beyond that.”

scholarly success: tejas sekhar
Saint Louis Priory School graduate Tejas Sekhar plans to become a doctor, and he’s already doing quite a bit to prepare for that challenging career. In April, he received a $20,000 college scholarship from the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, which rewards academic achievement, service and leadership. He’s one of only 150 U.S. high school students to be chosen for the honor out of 86,000 applicants. Tejas, 18, plans to take his award to Northwestern University in the fall and major in neuroscience.

In the meantime, he was active with Priory’s Student Council, served as an editor of the school’s newspaper, helped resurrect its defunct Model United Nations program, and served as treasurer of the St. Louis Area Model United Nations organization. He earned ‘master’ status in the Guild of Saint Columbkille, Priory’s medieval arts group, which promotes skills such as stained glass making and calligraphy.

“I also ran cross country, although tennis is my real sports passion,” he says. “During my junior year, I was ranked No. 17 in Missouri.” He was undefeated in singles at the time of this interview. “Tennis is a great way for me to stay active,” he notes. “It’s such a mental game.”

Tejas plans to immerse himself in research while in college, and he’s been gearing up for it, using summer grants to perform genomics studies in a lab at Washington University. For his senior thesis project at Priory, he designed an affordable fish tank system to allow high schools to raise zebra fish used in genetic research. “Leaving Priory is bittersweet. I’ll miss my time there,” he says. “But I’m really excited for the next chapter.”

talk to … megan mcclure
Athletics are a family tradition for Webster Groves graduate Megan McClure, and she plans to keep that torch lit as she transitions to college this fall. Megan, 17, made waves on both the soccer and softball fields, and accepted a soccer scholarship to Arkansas State University, where she’ll major in fine arts. A standout goalkeeper and third-base player, she racked up game-winning saves in both sports and performed at a high level in the classroom, too. She’s known for school records in areas such as batting and goalkeeping, and helped her high school and club teams to an impressive list of victories and titles, including the Class 3 State Soccer Championship in June. When not on the athletic field, Megan immerses herself in art forms like painting, sculpture and photography.

Why are sports important to you?
I’ve been playing since I was 4 or 5. I really like the competitiveness of athletics. I’m 6 feet tall, so I know how to use my physicality to my advantage. I also love working as a team with the other girls, and the unpredictability of a sport like soccer. You bring your best game to the field, but you never know how it’s going to go. And when I’m playing softball, the reaction-time skills I’ve developed in soccer really come through. I love being able to save a game—it feels great having my teammates rely on me for that.

Are you considering a career in art?
Yes, I want to do something functional with it, like work in advertising or designing products—something that will be seen by a lot of people. I also like the hands-on, physical aspect of painting and 3-D art forms like ceramics and sculpture.

What else does your future hold?
I can dream big and hope to go to a national team or women’s pro soccer. If not, my art is the backup plan. Either way, I think it’ll be a win-win situation for me.