Tara Sharma, a senior at Augusta Preparatory Day School, was named Youth of the Year winner Thursday by the Exchange Club of Augusta.
Tara, the daughter of Gary and Sarita Sharma, was among 12 high school seniors competing for the annual award.
The students submitted essays on the topic "America's Youth -- Stepping Forward to Change the Beat of America."
Each of the students received a check for $100, a certificate and a plaque.
Tara received an additional $350 and will have an opportunity to compete on a regional and national level for a $10,000 scholarship.
She has a 3.7 grade-point average, is a member of the National Honor Society, has been recognized for superior performance for three years in the National Federation of Music Competition and won a 2008 Converse Junior Scholar Award.
Other students honored by the club at a luncheon Thursday were:
Aaron J. Umansky, of Westside High School; Caroline I. Mullins, Westminster Schools; Ashley S. Weaver, A.R. Johnson Health Science and Engineering Magnet High School; Cree Downs, Glenn Hills High School; Melany Lopez, Augusta Christian Schools; Jameson Meadows, Academy of Richmond County; Shelby Roberts, John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet High School; Tiffany Williams, Lakeside High School; Parveen K. Dhillon, Greenbrier High School; Tony Miller Jr., Hephzibah High School; and Bennie J. Stephens II, Aquinas High School.
Each year the Exchange Club honors high school seniors for their work ethic, accomplishments and overall pursuit of excellence, according to a statement accompanying the awards.