Sequoyah High School names Choate, Turtle as 2020 valedictorian, salutatorian

05/20/2020 01:00 PM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Sequoyah High School’s 2020 valedictorian is Boniblu Choate, left, and salutatorian is Chelbie Turtle. COURTESY
TAHLEQUAH – Sequoyah High School has named Boniblu Choate as the class of 2020 valedictorian and Chelbie Turtle as salutatorian. 

SHS has tentatively set a commencement ceremony for the graduating seniors to take place at 6 p.m. on July 31 at the Chota Conference Center inside the Cherokee Casino Tahlequah, using the Centers for Disease Control’s social-distancing recommendations and pending guidelines.

Choate, 17, of Tahlequah, is the daughter of Jayson and Jolyn Choate. She is graduating with a weighted GPA of 4.55 and will be attending the University of Arkansas to major in creative writing.

She aspires to become an author or professor. Choate received the Cherokee Nation Valedictorian Scholarship worth $1,000 and the New Arkansan Non-Resident Tuition Award, which covers 90 percent of the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition for students. 

“Graduating as the valedictorian for 2020 means a lot to me,’ Choate said. “It has shown me that hard work does pay off, and that what’s possible is up to you. In the end, I am most proud to be graduating from a school that feels like family.” 

Through concurrent enrollment, Choate earned 30 credit hours from Northeastern State University during high school. She also participated in National Honor Society and the academic team. This year, the academic team achieved regional and area championships as well as, for the first time in Sequoyah history, becoming state qualifiers. 

Some of Choate’s achievements include being selected as a Girls State delegate by the Oklahoma American Legion Post 135, and winning second place in the Daughters of the American Revolution Good Citizen Essay Contest. She also is a 2019 graduate from the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics at the Indian Capital Technology Center. 

“Going to Sequoyah High School has been the most amazing experience I could ever hope for. I have met so many awesome people and made wonderful memories,” said Choate. “I would like to thank my family, friends, and teachers for always having my back and making every day a good one.”

Turtle, 19, of Tahlequah, is graduating with a weighted GPA of 4.4. She will be attending NSU in Tahlequah this fall and will be a part of the school’s Honors Program. As a NSU Honors Program member, she will receive the Honors Program Scholarship worth nearly $50,000 over four years through the Oklahoma Academic Scholars Program. She also received the CN Salutatorian Scholarship worth $750 and the Cherokee Nation Foundation Sequoyah Alumni Scholarship.

“As a freshman, I set a goal to graduate in the top 10 percent of my class,” Turtle said. “I continued to prioritize my education, and by hard work and determination, I was able to surpass my initial goal and achieve this amazing honor. I am very proud and humbled that I am able to represent my graduating class in this position.”

Turtle, the daughter of Jeff and Lisa Trice-Turtle, plans to double major in corporate communications and business administration at NSU. After completing her undergraduate studies, she plans to pursue a law degree and ultimately hopes to make a positive impact through her legal career or her desire to establish a nonprofit foundation.

While attending SHS, she completed 33 hours of concurrent enrollment at NSU. She also participated in National Honor Society, Honoring Our Peoples Existence Club, yearbook, Oklahoma Federation of Indian Women, Oklahoma Indian Student Honor Society and CN Tribal Youth Council among others.

Some of her leadership roles include serving as the tribe’s 2014-15 Junior Miss Cherokee, and 2017-18 Junior Miss Indian Oklahoma. She was secretary of National Honor Society, editor of yearbook, president of the CN Tribal Youth Council and an after-school tutor. She was also selected as a 2019 Oklahoma Girls State delegate and served as the Secretary of Native American Affairs, as well as was awarded the Outstanding Reporter Award. 

“I would first like to thank my family and friends for their endless love and support throughout my entire educational journey,” she said. “As a student at Sequoyah, I have had the opportunity to be taught, encouraged, and empowered by some of the best teachers and counselors. I could not have achieved this honor alone, and I will be forever thankful for my time spent at Sequoyah.”

The graduating class of 90 students has a Gates Millennium Scholar, several students who have accepted scholarships from The University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University, NSU and Arkansas, and two students who have accepted to attend Columbia and Dartmouth.


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