Caroline Orcutt of Fort Walton Beach, Fla., and Grahm Tuohy-Gaydos of Lakewood, Col., have been named the 2020 Heisman High School Scholarship National Winners, announced jointly today by the Heisman Trophy Trust and Acceptance Insurance, a leading provider of personal automobile insurance and other related products.
The Heisman High School Scholarship program honors the nation’s most accomplished, community-minded high school senior athletes. By inviting students from schools across the country to share their stories of leadership and impact, the program aims to inspire all students to harness their potential, push their limits, and use their talents not only to advance their own futures but to improve the communities and world around them. Over the past 26 years, the program has honored more than 600,000 of the nation’s most esteemed high school seniors and provided over a million dollars in college scholarships to students throughout the United States.
Both Orcutt and Tuohy-Gaydos will receive a $5,250 college scholarship. Joining them as finalists this year – and winning $1,250 college scholarships – were Austin Montini from Oak Hall School in Gainesville, FL, Brigid McCabe from Notre Dame School in New York, NY, Jaclyn Grisdale of Poland Seminary High School in Poland, OH, Jackson Atwood of Central Valley High School in Spokane Valley, WA, Kathryn Lyons from Hampton Park Christian School in Greenville, SC, Justice Flora from Charles Herbert Flowers High School in Springdale, MD, Maria Barela from Eldorado High School in Albuquerque, NM, Matthew Jennings of Haddam-Killingworth High School in Higganum, CT, Maya Bryson of Wilson High School in Long Beach, CA and Owen Treece of Van Wert High School in Van Wert, OH.
In addition, 88 male and female state winners who did not reach the finals will receive a $750 college scholarship.
Orcutt won the youth event at the 2020 USA Pentathlon National Selection competition. She represented the United States as a member of the Pentathlon National Team at the 2019 Youth World Championships and she won an individual bronze medal at the 2018 Youth Pan American Championships. She has also been a member of the Florida Olympic Development Program state soccer team and has 15 varsity letters earned across multiple sports. She also has 1,074 service hours to her name and is most proud of the Viking Welcome program she founded at her current high school.
“Growing up in a military family, I’m intimately familiar with being the new student adrift in a sea of nameless faces,” she says of her experience attending nearly a dozen different schools as her family has moved across the globe to accommodate her father’s service to our nation. Caroline created the program to welcome new families with a variety of student-led events. When the pandemic threatened to shut down her work, she took the program online, partnering with other volunteers to “bridge the isolation of COVID-19 by reaching out individually to over 150 new students and families through Zoom orientation events, email, phone calls, welcome folders, and a video school tour. “Easing their transition brings me more joy than any accolade.”
Tuohy-Gaydos has competed and succeeded at the highest levels in both academics and sports. In addition to being valedictorian of his class, Grahm is a snowshoe racing national champion, All-American, course record holder, and a member of the U.S. national team. He is a past member of the U.S. Development Team for Triathlon and has been ranked the best under-19-year-old Triathlete three times. He is a conference and state champion in various sports. And while he is without a doubt an elite competitor, he is passionately committed to ensuring that sports are accessible to anyone and everyone who wants to give them a try.
In the fall of 2019, Grahm was selected as Chairman of the Youth Diversity and Inclusivity National Conference sponsored by the Colorado High School Activities Association. He led a 23-person committee made up of students from the across his state to promote sports as a positive, unbiased institution offering a supportive atmosphere for all. Recognized as the first summit of its kind in the country, it was to be held in September 2020 with 350 student athletes in attendance. When COVID-19 made that impossible, it “allowed us to rethink and adapt our plan to convert it into an online forum,” says Grahm. “We are now able to expand it nationally in scope and promote our message of inclusivity across the country.”
More about the Scholarship:
In conjunction with this prestigious partnership, Acceptance Insurance simultaneously unveiled the Acceptance Pledge, a movement outlining and promoting a way for people to find common ground, listen and understand each other.