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WCSA scholar takes inspiration from ‘Grateful Dead’ song


AYER — Nicole Wenstrom, a high-achieving senior at Ayer Middle-High School (AMHS), has been named as the Worcester County Superintendent’s Association (WCSA) scholar this year.

A branch of the statewide organization, WCSA honors an outstanding senior from each member school every year. Its choices are based on recommendations from school administrators.

Interim Superintendent of Schools George Frost made this year’s pick based on district records and input from AMHS Principal Don Parker, he said.

The WCSA award announcement provides a window into the scholar’s individual philosophy. Wenstrom’s favorite quote is, “Once in a while, you get shown the light in the strangest places, if you look at it right.” The quote comes from a Grateful Dead song, “Scarlet Begonias.”

Wenstrom was 10 years old when she heard the song while riding in the car with her dad.

“I loved the way it made me feel,” she said. “I still replay it in my head whenever I feel less than great. I try to look at things differently, to look in the strangest of places for the light I heard Jerry Garcia singing about eight years ago.”

Frost announced the award and presented a certificate of excellence to Wenstrom at the Dec. 5 School Committee meeting. Another perk that comes with the honor is an invitation to attend an upcoming WCSA awards luncheon with Frost.

“I’ll bet she’s thrilled about that,” joked Frost.

He read aloud the district profile that summarizes Wenstrom’s academic and extracurricular accomplishments as an “outstanding student, leader and valuable member of the Ayer community.” She earned the highest grade point average in the class of 2008 and maintained “special honor” status for six semesters.

Wenstrom chose “the most rigorous courses available in core subjects” and earned many academic awards,” the profile states. She was also recognized by the PSAT/NMSQT as a “commended scholar.”

In addition to academic achievements, the profile highlights “leadership qualities” and community-service activities. Wenstrom demonstrated leadership as a camp counselor and as captain of her cheerleading squad. She showed community spirit through service activities that “truly benefit others,” it says, such as caroling at nursing homes and participating in charity events such as the Relay for Life and Bresnahan Road Race.

“Nicole is a talented person worthy of recognition for her achievements,” said Frost.

He also noted a special connection to Wenstrom’s family.

“I knew (her) grandfather ” he said. “He was a truly respected educator in Boxborough “