Minarets High School held its first senior scholarship awards last week and out of the 62 graduates, 25 were the recipients of a total of 60 scholarships equaling $36,500.
"The first ever Senior Scholarship Awards was a spectacular success," said Jon Corippo, Minarets Charter High School director. A broad variety of students were celebrated for many kinds of success, from purely academic, to career, to high character and sometimes, just plain old hard work.Our community support was way more than we hoped for. The people and businesses of Eastern Madera County are truly a caring, committed group of people that are very special indeed."
The evening began with music performances by Minarets students, followed by a welcome from Principal Michael Niehoff. Barbara Bigelow, board of trustees president, then spoke to students, parents, and other attendees before the presentation of awards.
"This evening is very special for a variety of reasons, but most importantly to celebrate the success of the first graduating class of Minarets High School," Bigelow said. "We are extremely proud of you and your accomplishments ... You have certainly exemplified the young professional that we knew you could be, having curriculum that is both rigorous and relevant has proven to be successful. I look forward to the future for all of you."
However Bigelow pointed out that none of this would have been possible without the support and encouragement of teachers and family. Bigelow said it seems like just yesterday that the original 27 students began meeting in North Fork Town Hall and said the key reason for Minarets' success is the leadership of Dr. Stephen Foster, superintendent of Chawanakee Unified School District, the vision of the board of trustees, and the leadership of Principal Michael Niehoff.
Many of the students received more than one scholarship, including River Harmony Messick-Sanders who received seven scholarships, totaling $3,800. Messick-Sanders, who has already received a full ride to attend Woodbury University in Burbank where she plans to pursue a degree in film with a minor in graphic design and psychology, said she feels very blessed.
"It's wonderful to know that I won't have trouble paying for books and other supplies, and hopefully having the chance to graduate college complete debt free," she said. "With all the local help, I have the opportunity to choose the college that's best for me without worry or stress of my financial situation."
Messick-Sanders said she only expected to receive two scholarships at the most.
"The group of seniors that were there are extremely talented, some have a higher GPA than me, and many are so kind hearted," she said. "Although I feel a little bad that the scholarships weren't spread around as much as they should have been, in truth it is complete and I'm more than flattered that so many of my adult peers have faith in me to succeed."
Luke Dahlin, 17, who is pursuing a degree in photography and Brigham Young University in Idaho, received two scholarships -- one from the North Fork Arts Council and one from Vision Academy -- equaling $2,500.
"It's just really exciting and kind of unexpected because there were a lot of great people applying," Dahlin said.
Sarah Bradshaw, 16, was one of the original 27 students at Minarets and received six scholarships equaling $2,000. Bradshaw said she applied to 15 but some of the scholarships she received were completely unexpected -- she didn't even apply for them.
"I really wasn't expecting to get much, so this has been a huge surprise for me," she said.
Bradshaw plans to pursue a degree in outdoor leadership at Simpson University in Redding and hopefully work in parks and recreation someday.
Scholarship recipients include:
River Harmony Messick-Sanders
Niehoff said the first Senior Scholarship Awards night was a highlight for the school and its first graduating class.
"As a small class, it was very rewarding to see 40% of them receive scholarship money, awards and recognition from our greater community," he said. "If we can maintain anything like that percentage in our future larger groups, it will be phenomenal. Naturally, it's very exciting to see our students succeed, get funding and be rewarded. But it's very heartwarming to see how much our local community cares and is investing in all of our futures. I am extremely proud of the graduates and this special community."