Lanie Belton has been described as a person who impresses others with her positive, “make-it-happen” attitude. And she has demonstrated that attitude numerous times, both through her academic achievements and her work in her school community and the community at large.
Ranked No. 1 academically, Belton has challenged herself with challenging courses. She has scored 5 — the top score — in all her advance placement course exams taken to date, an achievement that puts her in the top among students across the nation.
“Melanie Belton combines talent and conscientious work to set the pace for the top of the class,” says Jim Greetham, her AP U.S. history and Honors world history teacher.
Belton says that although she retains some of the material easily, her success comes from working hard over the years.
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“I make a point of getting all my assignments done and having a deeper understanding of the material,” she says.
Her AP literature and Honors English teacher, Patricia VanDragt, says she always saved the grading of Belton’s essays for last because “reading her essays was like eating dessert.”
“Lanie will succeed in whatever she undertakes. Her hard work, initiative and impressive skills will serve her well,” VanDragt says.
A trumpet player since sixth grade, Belton has been a member of Gig Harbor High’s symphonic wind orchestra and pep band, as well as the band council.
During her sophomore year, her bandmates voted her “the hardest working band member,” which Belton considers the highlight of her high school career.
Her musical achievements include being selected, along with a small group of Gig Harbor and Peninsula students, to participate in a 17-day European tour with the Washington Ambassadors of Music.
“It was really amazing,” she says. “It was one of the first time I’ve been away from home, and it was cool to know I could take care of myself.”
Belton has volunteered her time for various projects, and among her favorites was tutoring second-graders at Voyager Elementary. She visited a classroom weekly after school to help students read — only missing one week during her three-year involvement.
“The students love to read with Lanie,” says Voyager teacher Laurie Scherer. “She has truly made a difference in the reading lives of many children.”
She plans to explore her interest in film studies in college and will attend University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. One of Belton’s interests is the representation of gender and racial equality in the media.
Education: Senior, Gig Harbor High School
Parents: Allan and Melinda Belton Activities/Achievements: Ranked No. 1; National Honor Society; National Merit Commendation; Presidential Award for Educational Achievement; 7 AP/Honors classes and scores of 5 on all tests-to-date; Scholastic Challenge winner; band council member, voted “Hardest Working Band Member”; volunteer for TideFest, St. Joseph Medical Center, Voyager Elementary reading mentorship, Basket Brigade, Pierce County Walk for ALS; performance band letter; Washington Ambassadors of Music; created film/animation blog with 500 followers
Favorite teacher: Patricia VanDragt, AP literature and Honors English, “because she has inspired me to push myself beyond what I believed I could accomplish.”
Best thing about high school: the wide variety of classes. “I’ve had the opportunity to learn about topics outside of the core requirements, from web design to video production to the history of global colonization, and that breadth of knowledge will serve me well as I leave high school and go out into the world.”