Wood River High School principal John Blackman commented Wednesday that he has spent 24 years in this community and is constantly amazed at the ability of valley residents to sacrifice and give back to their own.
Blackman presided at Wednesday's annual Scholarship Assembly, held in the commons area of the Hailey high school. He told the audience of parents, friends and students, "As we get bigger we are still able to keep that heart and small-town feel."
"It's a marvelous thing that you do," he said, tipping his hat to generous donors in introductions to the 90-minute program.
Nearly 35 organizations and individuals gave more than $200,000 in grants Wednesday to Wood River High seniors and juniors active in academics, community affairs and leadership.
Desiree Peters received the $1,500 Idaho Mountain Express Scholarship. This is the 21st year the Express has given grants to Blaine County students. In all, over $83,000 has been given to local students since the Express scholarships began in 1988.
Express business manager Connie Johnson, lauding the growth and generosity 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 $200,000 given by over 30 organizations."
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 local residents Theresa Castellano-Wood and Benjamin Wood.
Over the last six years the Works of Grace Foundation, developed for the children of teachers, has granted 55 scholarships worth over $625,000. The grants honor 940 years of teaching experience, Castellano told the audience Wednesday.
Lauren Morgenthaler, valedictorian of the 2008 graduating class, was the recipient of a $20,000 Works of Grace scholarship. Current collegians and Wood River alumni also received grants. They were Adriana Maniere (Virginia Tech) for $15,000, and Hannah Richards (Principia College) for $10,000.
Carey School graduating senior Kendra Olson, daughter of Wood River teacher Chet Olson, also earned a $20,000 Works of Grace Foundation scholarship.
Also leading the way was the Hailey Rotary, which has awarded scholarships at the high school since 1967.
Outgoing Hailey Rotary President Jennifer Hazard-Davis gave 19 scholarships totaling $38,000 at Wood River. The biggest was a one-time $20,000 grant, $5,000 for four years, donated by the Outzs family and given to Katie Pruett.
The Hailey Rotary $1,000 grants went to Kevin Chin, Lisa Horn, Carly Ballantyne, Kathryn Smith, Allyson Rust, Gerardo Garcia, Alan Beserra, Tessa Barrow, Hannah Ward, Lauren Morgenthaler, Ben Leopold, Danny Kramer, Desiree Peters, Heidi Bergt, Pedro Morales, Sydney Spiller, Tasha Karst and Amanda Karst.
The Ketchum/Sun Valley Rotary gave out 10 scholarships. Presenter Tom Keenan distributed the grants, including the Dean Donaldson Memorial Scholarship, to Carly Ballantyne, Daisy Baltazar, Pedro Morales, Lauren Morgenthaler, Nathan Payne, Desiree Peters, Katie Pruett, Allyson Rust, Sydney Spiller and Kevin Chin.
The five $1,000 recipients of Sawtooth Board of Realtors scholarships from Wood River were Allyson Rust, Daisy Baltazar, Edgar Romero, Pedro Morales and Daniel Sibrian.
Since 1988 the Realtors have presented over $150,000 in scholarships, including eight $1,000 grants to Blaine County students this year.
Another highlight of the assembly was "Dollars for Scholars" scholarships in the amounts of $1,000 going to 15 students. Meredith Campbell saluted her co-presenter, Audrey Bashaw, for raising over $330,000 in scholarship money since the local program began 13 years ago.
"Dollars for Scholars" recipients from Wood River were Heidi Bergt, Alan Beserra, Kevin Chin, Gerardo Garcia, Gretchen Halle, Danny Kramer, Pedro Morales, Lauren Morgenthaler, Allyson Rust, Hunter Scarborough, Daniel Sibrian, Gina Weisbaum, Lacie Wheeler-Anderson, Katie Pruett and Rogelio Moran.
Awarded for the 15th year were Leon Friedman Memorial Scholarships, which have amounted to over $500,000.
This year's Friedman recipients were Lauren Morgenthaler, Johnny Dilley, Heidi Bergt, Katie Pruett, Alan Beserra, Rogelio Moran, Danny Kramer, Daniel Sibrian and Hannah Ward.
Other awards and winners
The $2,000 Josh Pollock Memorial Scholarship from Power Engineers (12th year): Alisa Durkheimer.
Bob Shay Memorial Scholarship (ninth year): Daniel Sibrian.
Memorial awards were presented in honor of Katie Bryson, Joe Maccarillo, Barbara Cimino and Wende Thornton.
Tasha Karst (art) and Lacy Werley (swimming) accepted the Katie Bryson Memorial
Scholarships. Heidi Bergt and Pedro Morales earned the $1,000 Wende Lee Thornton grants.
Joe Maccarillo Music Scholarships were given to Brian Town and Rudi Kaiser. The Barbara Cimino Memorial Scholarships went to Ashley Santiago and Lindsi Robison.
Other memorial grants were:
Alan and Diane Johnson $1,000 Memorial Scholarship (fifth year): Danny Kramer.
Tyler Shelly Memorial Music Scholarship for $1,000 (fourth year): Brian Town.
The Jill Palm $1,000 Memorial Scholarship: Carly Ballantyne. Brian J. Finegan Memorial Scholarship: Taryn Bryson.
Boo Bushell Youth and Performing Arts Memorial Scholarship for $300 (ninth year): Terrell Sampson.
Building Contractors of the Wood River Valley/Gregg Stowe Scholarships: Josh Christiansen, Rogelio Moran, Danny Kramer and David Pavone.
Many organizations and businesses contributed grants.
DL Evans Bank Scholarship: Danny Kramer. Paula's Girl: Gina Weisbaum. Dave Wilson/Jim Woodyard Construction Scholarships: Rogelio Moran, Josh Christiansen and Danny Kramer.
Sun Valley Center for the Arts and Humanities: Gay V. Weake Scholarships to Alan Beserra and Jordan Hendricks. Ezra Pound $5,000 Award to Max Monahan.
Other Sun Valley Center high school arts and humanities grants went to John Crotty, Sydney Spiller, Zach Smith, Chase Dougherty, Bethany Watkins, Emilie Jeneson, Allie Freund, Alexandria Kuntz, R.J. Forgeon, Sam Schwab, Nicholas Howard, Stephanie Sloan, Andre Keys, Chris Clark, Samantha Engel, Carlos Neme, Nina Hirner, Hanna Curran, Russel Wilson, Tanya Greenwood, Kylie Anderson and Gabrielle Sanborn.
Cornerstone Realty "School to Work" Award: Jess Matey. Surfing Heritage Foundation: Pedro Morales.
Blaine County Education Foundation scholarships to vocational/technical students: Natalie Rangel and Lindsi Robison. Blaine County Education Association: Samantha Moldenhauer and Danny Kramer.
Smith College Book Award for an outstanding junior: Julia Bowman. Colby College Book Award to an outstanding junior: Jack Reidy.
Sonya Tarney: Alan Beserra. Second annual Ketchum Eye Center Award: Katie Pruett. KTVB Distinguished Student of the Week: Ross Parsons.
Eighth annual Ruscitto/Latham/Blanton $1,000 scholarship: Danny Kramer. Miss Teen Idaho Scholarship presented by reigning queen Kylee Richmond: Lauren Morgenthaler.
Student of Hispanic Origin Continuing Scholarships from Jim and Barbara Cimino: Janette Estana, Erwin Roman and Erika Ruiz.
Upper Big Wood River Grange $1,000 Scholarship: Kathryn Smith. Awarded Boise State University scholarships were Lacy Werley and Josh Christiansen.