By Mary-Justine Lanyon
Prior to announcing the winners of the 142 awards that were presented at the scholarship awards night, Rim High Principal Torri Burke asked for a moment of silence for the 19 students and two teachers killed in the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
“We are here tonight,” Burke then said, “to celebrate and honor our hard-working seniors, recognize their successes and give them some money to go on to their next chapter.”
The 65 students who were honored received a total of $123,700. Thirty-six of those were presented by the Rim of the World Communities Scholarship Council; all 36 students who applied received an award.
Cindy Gardner, representing the scholarship council, called up Rob Roy to present the first seven scholarships, which alone totaled $10,000. The first scholarship of the night in the amount of $2,500 went to Olivia Reed. The other six went to George Kolbe, Zahari Perez, Kayla Carroll, Hailey Olsen, Cailyn Paxton and Zackary Lawrence.
“Wherever you end up,” Roy told the students, “always remember the mountain and always give back to your community.”
Other community awards in memory of loved ones were then awarded. As Gardner called up representatives of the organizations or families, she injected humor into the proceedings, reminding the students to stop and pose for photos. She did say that “this is my favorite night of the year.”
When Chris Levister, president of the Blue Jay Jazz Foundation, came to the podium, she noted that many people wonder what happens with the money they give out. In 2008, she said, the Foundation gave a scholarship to a Rim High freshman, who is now working on a master’s degree in music therapy and auditioning for an Off-Broadway musical. “We’re here for anyone who wants to play music,” she said as she presented Alexander DeLeon with a scholarship.
“We are dedicated to helping students at Rim High be successful,” said Nick Nerio, the commander of American Legion Post 360. He noted that they are sending two boys to Boys State and one girl to Girls State. The post awarded $9,000 to five students: Zackary Lawrence, Zahari Perez, Jared Arrowood, Jameson Crate and Olivia Reed.
Dr. Patrick Rains and Dr. Monica Alejandre, a vice president at Cal State San Bernardino, presented scholarships to three students who will attend the university: Abigail Epstein (who was not present), Ariana Helguera Lopez and Sandra Perez Camacho. These awards, Dr. Rains explained, are renewable as long as the students maintain a GPA of 3.0 or better.
“I’ve worked with this group (the CSUSB Mountain Scholarship) since 2007,” Dr. Alejandre said. “They have raised over $1 million for these students.”
The Lake Arrowhead Mountain Sunrise Rotary gave out a total of $3,400 in scholarships “to students who normally would not be recognized,” said Debbie Hopper, who chairs the club’s scholarship committee. “We reach out to teachers and staff to nominate students who reflect Rotary’s values and beliefs.” Their eight awards were given to Darby Friel, Angel Rodriguez Ramirez, Valerie Chavez, Carla Fuentes Martinez, Keygan Klinkart, Veronica Barron, Sophia Conrad and Marlene Almaraz.
For the 30th year, the UCLA Mountain Bruins gave a scholarship to a student who will be attending the university. Currently they are supporting 11 Rim students with an award of $1,000 per year. This year’s award went to Olivia Reed, who will be studying nursing at UCLA. “She got into the hardest program at UCLA,” said Jim Ferranti as he presented her with her award.
Each year the Rotary Club of Lake Arrowhead recognizes students who maintained a GPA of 4.0 with a “little bonus.” This year, 18 students were so honored. The club also gave out 19 other scholarships totaling $17,850.
Students who have a parent who is either a certificated or classified employee of the district were honored with awards.
Other groups awarding scholarships included the Mountain Bears Democrats, the Arrowhead Communities Republican Women, the Women’s Club of Lake Arrowhead, the Sierra Club, Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church, Soroptimist International, Running Springs Firefighters, Rim Men of Courage, McDonald’s, Rim O’ the World Association of Realtors, Spirit of the Mountains, Mountain Jewish Community, Sweep’s Luck and Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church.
It seemed only fitting, in light of the Texas shooting, that the Lake Arrowhead Community Presbyterian Church presented a Peacemaking award. It went to Kayla Carroll, who was nominated for her strong convictions to make the world a better place. “Her energy, commitment and passion are forces to behold. She refuses to be a bystander when others need help,” wrote Kathy Dubois in her nomination.
As the evening drew to a close, Gardner returned to the podium to present additional scholarships from the scholarship council, with the last award – “last but not least,” Gardner said – going to Annie Wootten.
The seniors and their families then shared cake and congratulations.