A special announcement was made on Friday morning at Revilla Junior Senior High School.
Students looked up from their desks as Diane Gubatayao called for their attention at the front of the room. Standing next to the Ketchikan School Board and First City Rotary Club member was Revilla student Autumn Elsner, and her mother, Tammy, along with Revilla staff members.
Autumn Elsner did not know that the announcement would be about a recent award she had received.
Gubatayao announced that Elsner, a junior planning to graduate early with the class of 2022, had won a 2022 Rotary Youth Leadership Award, which comes with a trip to Kings Lake Camp in Wasilla next month. She said Elsner's achievement was "well-deserved."
Addressing the school to a round of applause, Gubatayao reminded the assembled students about educational opportunities that are available to them.
"I want to encourage all of you to consider applying for things," Gubatayao said. "Rotary (club), we have scholarships, we have exchange programs. You could go visit another country. I want you to know you all can apply."
According to RYLA information, the annual program is a "youth leadership development and training event sponsored around the world by Rotary International and is put on by local Rotary clubs in Alaska & Yukon."
High school sophomores and juniors are eligible to apply. At the camp, they will learn about "the qualities of leadership, what makes an effective team and apply what they learn in challenging activities," according to the program information.
The schedule includes team building activities, guest speakers and panels, group discussions, personal reflections, and problem-solving activities and experiences, according to the information.
After a round of applause from her peers and a brief pause for photos, the Daily News spoke with Elsner about RYLA.
She applied about two weeks previously after hearing about the opportunity from Revilla guidance counselor Kris Flora.
" I thought it'd be fun, but I didn't know if I would be accepted or not," she said.
The camp will run from April 14 through April 17. It won't be Elsner's first time in Wasilla, as she has traveled there to partake in wrestling competitions in the past.
Elsner didn't know that she would be recognized in front of the school on Friday — it was a surprise planned by school staff. Her mother knew about the recognition ahead of time, and arrived at Revilla on Friday morning to take part in the surprise.
"I'm very excited for her," Tammy Elsner said. "I've had to keep the secret for three days."
"My mom came up to me and she was like, 'The school just called me. You're in trouble,'" the student said, noting that the comment made her nervous before the surprising announcement.
Tammy Elsner said her daughter "works really hard. When she sets her mind on something, it happens."
Elsner's goal after graduation is to attend a trade school and study information technology. She is involved in wrestling and jiu-jitsu, and is a member of the local shotgun league. Her parents are Bill and Tammy Elsner.