Friday, May 26, 2006

On a generous night, one gesture stands out

Over $170,000 in scholarships handed out at WRHS

Wood River senior Hayley Stommel poses Wednesday night with her "First Generation Scholarship" recipients, Josue Ricsi, left, and Ryan Lofswold. Photo by David N. Seelig


On a night brimming with generosity, one scholarship presentation was remarkable Wednesday night during the annual Wood River High School Scholarship Program staged at The Community Campus auditorium in Hailey.

A graduating Wood River senior, Hayley Stommel, of Hailey, walked to the podium and presented what she called "First Generation Scholarships," in the amount of $7,550 to two of her classmates, Ryan Lofswold and Josue Ricsi.

Stommel, 18, planning to attend the University of San Diego, raised the scholarship money herself as her senior project and decided to earmark the funds for a student who is the first generation of his or her family to graduate from high school and go to college.

"The senior project is something required for us to graduate," she said. "I wanted to do something different—something positive to make an impact on people. So I put up a scholarship fund. It had to be done by November, so I wrote letters to people. I collected $7,300 in three months. Two weeks ago I got another $250 which brought it up to $7,550."

Personally inspecting 22 applications for the scholarship, Stommel found it extremely difficult to choose. "It was so hard," she said. So instead of one recipient, she chose two.

Lofswold, going to the University of Idaho, will receive $5,000 spread over four years, while College of Southern Idaho-bound Ricsi will receive $2,550. Stommel said, "Ryan is extremely determined. He is going into engineering. Josue is amazing. He is so smart."

What did she learn from the whole process? Stommel said, "I already knew how generous this community was, but I found out that people here are so willing to give. And I also found out that the hard work that goes into something like this definitely pays off."

Indeed, more than $170,000 in local scholarships were presented Wednesday to Wood River High School seniors active in academics, community affairs and leadership.

Stephanie Weller received the $2,000 Idaho Mountain Express Scholarship. This is the 19th year the Express has given grants to Blaine County students. In all, $70,000 has been given since the Express scholarship program began in 1988.

Express business manager Connie Johnson, marveling at the growth of the valley's scholarship program, said, "When we first started giving scholarships at Wood River in 1988, there was $9,200 given out by 11 organizations. Last year there was over $180,000 given out by over 30 organizations. And we had 65 applications for our scholarship this year."

Also leading the way was the Hailey Rotary, which has awarded scholarships at the high school since 1967. The Rotary gave seven scholarships at Wood River—to Jason Syms, Josue Ricsi, Maria Pina, Jozey Mitcham, Anneka Preston, Nicole Schulz and Hadley DeBree.

The Ketchum/Sun Valley Rotary, raising money from its annual Labor Day Duck Race, gave out $14,000 in grants. The recipients were Ken Mauro, Kelsey Laird, Josue Ricsi, Adelaide Mason, Thomas Gappmayer, Spencer Cordovano, Nicholas Purdy, Stefanie Yates, Jason Syms, Jozey Mitcham and Hayley Stommel.

In addition, T.J. Squires received the Dean Donaldson Memorial Scholarship, $1,000 for each of four college years.

First Bank of Idaho's Jim Latta and Bryan Furlong gave eight scholarships worth $6,000. Winners of $1,000 grants were Dana Christensen, Jozey Mitcham, Anneka Preston and Kyle Niedrich. The $500 scholarships went to Hailey Tucker, Cyndi Ochoa, T.J. Squires and Nicholas Purdy.

The six $1,000 recipients of Sawtooth Board of Realtors grants were Dana Christensen, Jason Syms, Hillary Elmore, Josue Ricsi, Jozey Mitcham and Reinet Behncke.

The big spike in scholarship amounts handed out in Blaine County since 2002 started with a two-hour chat over coffee five years ago between Blaine County School District Superintendent Jim Lewis and locals Theresa Castellano-Wood and Benjamin Wood.

Over the last four years the Works of Grace Foundation developed for the children of teachers has granted 40 scholarships worth $460,000. The grants honor almost 700 years of teaching experience, Wood told the audience Wednesday.

Winners of $20,000 Works of Grace scholarships this year were Hillary Elmore and Marne Elmore. Ken Mauro and Hannah Richards were also honored with such grants.

A highlight of the assembly was the presentation of "Dollars for Scholars" scholarships in the amounts of $500 to $1,000 to 17 Wood River students.

"Dollars for Scholars" recipients were Reinet Behncke, Dana Christensen, Noilen Corrales, Hadley DeBree, Hillary Elmore, Marne Elmore, Kyle Niedrich, Cyndi Ochoa, Anneka Preston, Hannah Richards, Josue Ricsi, Arlo Saxton, Jason Syms, T.J. Squires, Nancy Tamayo, Marco Ugaz and Robbie Hamlin.

Awarded for the 13th year were the Leon Friedman Memorial Scholarships, which have amounted to nearly $450,000 during that time. This year, 27 scholarships for $22,000 were awarded to current and former Wood River students.

Friedman $1,000 recipients among current students were Kelsie Barrow, Spencer Cordovano, Kelsey Laird, Hillary Elmore, Marne Elmore, Cyndi Ochoa Jozey Mitcham, Hayley Stommel, T.J. Squires, Sophia Dilley, Hadley DeBree, Josue Ricsi and Anneka Preston.

The $500 Friedman scholarship winners were April Pina, Kyle Lubeck, Ryan Lofswold, Alexis Greenwood, Noilen Corrales, Maria Pina, Ashley Prior, Jamie Stone and Arlo Saxton.

New memorial awards were presented in honor of Katie Bryson, Joe Maccarillo and Wende Thornton.

The Katie Bryson Memorial Art Scholarship went to Marne Elmore. The Katie Bryson Inspirational in swimming went to her brother, Ray Bryson.

Kyle Niedrich accepted the Wende Lee Thornton grant. Those with Joe Maccarillo Scholarships were Hillary Elmore, Marne Elmore and Kelsie Barrow.

Other grants Wednesday:

DL Evans Bank Scholarships: Maria Pina, Marco Ugaz, Josue Ricsi, T.J. Squires and Jozey Mitcham.

Paula's Girl: $4,200 Wood River Women's Scholarship to Jozey Mitcham.

Barbara Cimino Memorial: Maria Avila and Carl Browning.

Eighth annual Wood River Odd Fellows and Rebekahs: Josey Mitcham.

Sun Valley Center for the Arts and Humanities: Alan Beserra, Hillary Elmore, Marne Elmore, Samantha Engel, Brendan Freund, Collin Hand, Lucas King, Charles Knight, Aimee Loudenslager, Allison Rust, Mia Stearns and Lauren Williamson.

Gay V. Weake Honorary Award ($1,000 each, renewable): Reinet Behncke, Spencer Cordovano and Anneka Preston.

U.S. Private Banking: Stefanie Yates.

Woodyard-Wilson Construction ($1,000): Kjell Ooms.

The $1,000 Josh Pollock Memorial Scholarship from Power Engineers (11th year): Josue Ricsi.

Bob Shay Memorial Scholarship (7th year): Morgan Uhrig.

Cornerstone Realty "Lifelong Learner" Award: Margo Ugaz.

Blaine County Education Foundation scholarship, given to vocational/technical students: Michael Gross. He also won the Jill Palm Memorial.

Blaine County Education Association: Maria Pina.

Alan and Diane Johnson Memorial Scholarships (3rd year, $1,000 each): Josue Ricsi and Dana Christensen.

Tyler Shelly Memorial Music Scholarship for $1,000, (2nd year): Kelsie Barrow.

Brian J. Finegan Memorial Scholarships: Jozey Mitcham and Ray Bryson.

Boo Bushell Youth and Performing Arts Memorial Scholarship for $500, (7th year): Rachel Olson.

Company of Fools: Hayden Seder.

Sonya Tarney: Molly Sides.

Sixth annual Ruscitto/Latham/Blanton scholarship ($1,000): Hayley Andrews.

F-Stop Scholarship for a talented photography and music student: Noilen Corrales.

Fifth annual Wood River Valley Insurance Agents: T.J. Squires and Claudia Cayeros.

Hailey Masonic Lodge Scholarship: Nancy Tamayo.

Upper Big Wood River Grange: Jozey Mitcham.

Webb Landscaping $1,000 scholarships: Ray Bryson and T.J. Squires.

Blaine/Camas Farm Bureau: Kyle Niedrich.

Student of Hispanic Origin Continuing Scholarships from the Ciminos: Andres Grimaldo, Adrian Grimaldo, Becky Lopez, Gloria Alvarez, Maria Serrato, Concepcion Serrato, Perla Pacheco and April Pina.

Wood River Baseball Association working grants: The Larry Lloyd Award to Morgan Uhrig, the Jeff Cordes Award to Jamie Stone.

Toyota Scholar $10,000 Scholarship: Abby Fairman.

Wood River Medical Society: Hailey Tucker.

Smith College Book Award for an outstanding junior: Kaitlin Gasenica.

Colby College Book Award to an outstanding junior: John David Davidson.

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