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South Valley Journal

Summit Academy High School outstanding graduate: It's payback time

Jun 07, 2021 12:56PM ● By Jet Burnham

Matthew Delis, outstanding graduate Summit Academy High School 2021. (Photo courtesy of Matthew Delis.)

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

Matthew Delis has spent his senior year at Summit Academy High School giving payback.

As a youth, Delis learned golfing skills that helped him, as team captain, lead the Summit Academy High School boy’s varsity golf team to the state championship this year. To pay it back, he has been volunteering this year as a youth instructor in the very same golf program he participated in as a kid.

“I felt it was important to try to give something back to those people that had helped me so much throughout my childhood,” he said. “They really helped me develop my game and my mental approach to the sport that has bled into a lot of other aspects of my life.”

Delis also wanted to pay it back to Utah’s regional qualifying spelling bee program, sponsored by the City Journals, which supported him through five hard years of competition and paid for his trip to Washington D.C. when he qualified for the Scripps National Spelling Bee as an eighth grader.

“It had been my dream for the longest time and it was an amazing experience,” he said. “After my journey was over, I felt it was really important to give back to the community that had supported me so much through that entire journey. I wanted to help raise awareness for the importance of spelling and provide potential competitors with the same opportunities that I was able to receive.”

For the past four years, Delis has contacted local businesses for donations to support the spelling bee. City Journals Creative Director Bryan Scott said they’ve never had a past participant who has been such a support to the program. 

“He’s a super great kid and he’s been just awesome for the spelling bee,” Scott said.

At SAHS, AP psychology teacher Marcus Dickson appreciates that Delis is a meticulous, respectful student.

“He's one that goes really above and beyond the learning,” he said.

Delis has loved the tight knit community of students and teachers at SAHS. To give back to the school, Delis served as student body vice president and a member of National Honor Society.

When the pandemic sent students to learn from home last spring, Delis maintained his 4.0 GPA but also looked for ways to help others with his free time.

“Listening to the news every day and hearing all the bad things that were happening, I just felt it was important to try to do something while I was stuck at home,” he said. Delis contacted other NHS members and organized a toy drive for the Ronald McDonald House. Throughout the summer and the first half of the school year, they collected more than 300 toys.

“I hope it brought a sense of normalcy and a degree of happiness to those children,” he said. “It really just serves as additional motivation to help us keep providing better things for the world, so that we might leave it a little better than we found it.”

Delis works as a volunteer at the Loveland Aquarium and is passionate about the environment. He will be attending UCLA in the fall.

“I want to major in mechanical engineering and hopefully put an environmentally helpful spin on that so that I might be able to build something to help the world,” he said.

He already has a head start on helping the environment. Delis has excelled in school science fairs every year since grade school, advancing to place either first or second at the state fair every year. Most of his projects have been focused on environmental impacts, such as BPA in plastic water bottles and soil erosion in fragile ecosystems.