Nearly $65,000 was awarded to 28 graduating seniors at Minarets High School's Senior Scholarship Awards night last week. Scholarships, ranging from $150 to $10,000, were handed out by representatives from 43 Madera County groups and non-profit organizations.
Minarets Principal Michael Niehoff said being involved in events like our Senior Scholarship Awards makes many things worthwhile.
"It's truly a celebration of culminating and collaborative efforts between students, staff, families and community partners -- and that's how it should be," Niehoff said. "It's humbling to be in the presence of driven, talented and professional young people, as well as our ever-so generous community."
One of those students is Minarets senior Noah Evans, 18. He took home a combined $8,500 thanks to an Excellence in Multi-Media Arts scholarship and two scholarships from the North Fork Arts Council and the Kiwanis Club of Oakhurst.
"I was ecstatic," Evans said. "I thought for sure I was only going to get a little something, but it's the most I have ever made in one night and it means the world to me."
Evans is trying to get enough money to pursue a degree in animation from Woodbury University in Burbank.
"To find that some other people actually believe in me and are willing to offer their support was more encouraging than anything," Evans said.
Minarets senior Alyssa Hoppenrath, 18, also received a couple scholarships -- one from the Regiben Family Scholarship and one from Indian Lakes Estates Women. Hoppenrath plans to study Emergency Medical Services at Willow International in Fresno.
"Winning the first scholarship from Indian Lakes Estates was absolutely phenomenal, receiving the second one from someone I know personally and admire was a whole other wonderful sensation. It means hope -- Life. A chance to do something by me and for me."
Minarets senior Zena Samuelson, 18, was recognized by two organizations and her church for a total of $1,200 in scholarships. Samuelson plans to attend Fresno State to pursue a bachelor's degree in instrumental performance.
"I am so thankful for the Frank Logar and Margaret Thomas Memorial scholarships and know that the money greatly helps me and my family out financially with my college costs," Samuelson said.
Samuelson said it was also very touching to receive a scholarship from the Sierra Pines Church Women Ministry -- the church she has been attending since childhood.
"All the people there are very supportive of me and my drumming abilities," Samuelson said. "It shouldn't have been a surprise to receive it, but I'm happy I did. I'm very grateful towards all these scholarship committees and I know that they are definitely making my college career possible."
Minarets senior Breanna Cairns, 17, received $500 from Service Organization of the Sierra and $1,000 from the Cal Barnett Memorial Scholarship fund. Cairns plans to pursue a degree in Ag Communication from Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo.
"Hearing your name called was so relieving, especially if you heard it more than once," Cairns said. "Every time you walked up on stage to receive an award, your smile just got bigger because you realized that with each scholarship you were a little step closer to making your dreams a reality. These scholarships are helping me to excel and are a motivation to continue to strive for success. They are helping me to attend the college of my choice and better my future."
Cairns is still in competition for more scholarships from the Lions Club and has already won $11,000 by winning two previous Lions speech competitions. North Fork Lions Club member Ken Goodwin was at the scholarship night to acknowledge Cairns' accomplishments. She will go on to the final competition June 1 to compete for a $10,000 scholarship.
"I feel prepared for the next contest and am eager to stand up and do my very best for not only my family and friends, but the North Fork Lions Club that have been so wonderful in supporting me the entire way," Cairns said. "Experiencing a contest like this has given me more of a drive to succeed and has boosted my confidence in my abilities that God has blessed me with."
The Madera County Arts Council was just one of the many organizations donating money towards the future of Minarets' students. The arts council awarded Minarets senior Jarred Crossley with a $1,000 scholarship. Crossley plans to pursue a degree in cinematography at Columbia College in Hollywood.
"Jarred was chosen in large part because of his ability to verbalize his passion and excitement for the arts, particularly film," said Sherril Royse, art education program manager for the arts council. "In addition, his references indicate that he has earned the respect of his peers and teachers at Minarets for his creativity, strong work ethic, 'can do' attitude, and collaborative approach. We wish him great success in his studies and with the development of his unique vision and passion."
Crossley was also awarded a $10,000 scholarship by Celeste Voyles from the Evelyn Ducoff Scholarship Fund.
The following is a complete list of award recipients: Daisy Allison, Ariana Atilano, Breanna Cairns, Jarred Crossley, Jamie Darr, Christian DelaTorre, Emma Delk, Carli Domler, Josh Dowell, Noah Evans, Natori Hatfield, Alexander Holt, Daniel Hooker, Alyssa Hoppenrath, Samantha Krobb, Karli Marino, Eddie Martinez, Allison Mitchell, Destany Morgan, Jane Najera, Hayden Righter, Zena Samuelson, Tabitha Sanchez, Jordan Smith, Anne Marie Spencer, Karah Varner, Rachel Verduzco and Kristle Wilson.