JAY — Erik Taylor, a senior at Spruce Mountain High School, has earned two recent academic honors that are a testament to his love of learning.

At a Maine Association of Basketball Coaches (MABC) banquet during McDonald’s All-Star Weekend on March 7-8, Taylor won a $2,000 scholarship as the MABC’s top Academic All-Star. Taylor, who played on the Spruce Mountain Phoenix varsity basketball team this winter, said that he was thrilled and humbled to receive the recognition. He was chosen from a group of nine finalists.

Taylor has also been awarded a Certificate of Merit for his advancement as a Finalist in the 2014 National Merit Scholarship Program. He became a semifinalist in the fall after receiving one of the highest 2013 PSAT scores in the state.

“It was a pretty big surprise at first,” he said. “I was very honored, and proud of myself, that I made it that far.”

To become a Finalist, the Semifinalist and their high school must submit a detailed scholarship application, in which they provide information about the Semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received. A Semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test. National Merit Scholarship winners will be selected from the group of Finalists, based on their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference.

Taylor has been accepted to UMaine, and said he was waiting to hear back on his applications to Boston University and MIT. He will be studying biomedical engineering.

“I’ve always been good at math and science,” he said. “Engineering seemed to be a good fit.”

He said that his grandfather, on his mother’s side of the family, was paralyzed as the result of an injury suffered in WWII. This is one of the reasons for his choice of college major.

“It inspired me to get into bio-engineering. I want to help people.”

Taylor’s family places tremendous value on education. His parents, Rob and Julie, are both teachers. His sister, Emily, who is also a senior, is challenging him for the top academic ranking in the Spruce Mountain High School senior class.

“My parents are both avid supporters of my education,” he said. “My sister and I are 1-2 in our class. We push each other to do our best. I want a bright future for myself, and focusing on my education is the way to do that.”

One of Taylor’s activities that he is most passionate about is the Spruce Mountain Area FIRST Robotics Team. After participating in FIRST Lego Robotics at Jay Middle School, he took the skills he had learned and applied them toward the high school team, which has been in existence for three years.

“It’s given me a lot of tools to use, like creative thinking and thinking out of the box, which has given me skills I can use in life,” he said.

Teamwork and working together to problem solve is another important part of FIRST Robotics, Taylor pointed out.

He is part of Boy Scouts, and this winter earned his Eagle Scout certification for building four exercise stations in the recreation area behind the high school. They included a stretching station, agility run, chin up bar, and push up and sit up platform. In order to do this, Taylor had to get the help of family, friends, and fellow Scouts. He talked with builders to learn how to achieve his goal and received monetary donations from the Jay Recreation Department.

Taylor was captain of the varsity soccer team last fall, and has also played basketball all four years of high school. He was on the baseball team his freshman and sophomore years.

His other in-school activities include Math Team, where he has been Spruce Mountain High School’s high scorer for three straight years; Student Council, where he is the President; National Honor Society; and Envirothon. Outside of school, he is the President of the LEO’s Club, a service organization affiliated with the Lions Club.

Taylor is also President of the local Explorer Post, where students do hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities while learning about the environment along the way.

“We do a lot of stuff with the Boy Scouts and also do volunteer work in the community,” he said.

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