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Williams High School student selected as finalist for AIA scholar-athlete award

Paige Kmetz is a senior at Williams High School. (Wendy Howell/WGCN)

Paige Kmetz is a senior at Williams High School. (Wendy Howell/WGCN)

An ambitious high school schedule and a busy home life haven’t prevented Williams High School senior Paige Kmetz from keeping her grades up, and her success in academics along with her success in athletics is now being recognized.

On April 13, the Arizona Interscholastic Association announced Kmetz has been selected as a finalist for the AIA Scholar-Athlete award for 2017-2018.

“I’m very excited about being nominated,” Kmetz said.

Kmetz was required to submit an essay and participate in a televised AIA interview as part of the nomination process.

“It was pretty intimidating,” Kmetz said.

Throughout high school, Kmetz managed to maintain a 3.95 GPA as a two-sport athlete, a saxophonist in the band, student body treasurer and as a member of the National Honor Society. She also participated in the Upward Bound program.

“My hardest year of high school was my sophomore year,” Kmetz said. “But I learned time management skills as I got older.”

Kmetz said sometimes it was difficult to remember all her obligations for each club while also managing school work.

“But I learned fast,” she said.

The AIA is not the only group to recognize Kmetz’s accomplishments at WHS. Kmetz is a recipient of a Lumberjack Scholarship at Northern Arizona University, which is a merit-based full-tuition scholarship for Arizona residents who have maintained a 3.5 GPA throughout high school. She was also recognized in Williams, where she received several local scholarships that she plans to use to offset her college living expenses.

In addition to her full academic schedule, Kmetz participated in basketball and volleyball at WHS and credits several of her coaches for keeping her motivated at school.

“My volleyball coach Chesney Grantham was a great influence on me,” Kmetz said. “She made me love playing sports again.”

Kmetz said WHS Athletic Director and girls’ basketball coach, Phillip Echeverria, also made an impact on her.

Outside of school, Kmetz spent most of her time with her family who do foster care.

“Whenever I wasn’t at school or sports I was at home or in meetings,” Kmetz said.

Kmetz said for as long as she can remember her family has hosted foster children, and she values the experience.

“A lot of people don’t realize how much the family is involved,” Kmetz said. “New people come in and you get attached, you see them like your brother or sister and then you let them go. It’s really hard to live that lifestyle sometimes.”

Kmetz said her family’s experience with foster care has helped guide her toward her desired career as an educator.

“I knew I didn’t want to be a foster parent because I see how much my parents go through,” Kmetz said. “But my parents have really inspired me. They are very selfless people and I look up to them a lot.”

Kmetz said she enjoys being around her foster siblings and the younger ones have made an impression on her.

“The younger siblings allowed me to be their best friend and just hang out with them,” Kmetz said.

Kmetz said she plans to study elementary education and possibly special education at NAU. She said she could also see herself doing short-term, or respite, foster-care in the future.

“I really love kids,” Kmetz said.

The AIA finalists will be honored at the annual AIA Champions Awards luncheon May 21 at noon at the University of Phoenix Stadium. This event will also be streamed on for any friends or relatives to watch that cannot make it to the luncheon.

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