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Donors Make a Game-Changing Difference

Olympic water polo player and alumna Annika Dries expressed her appreciation for hometown support that buoyed her confidence. Photo by Jody Tiongco

If it takes a village to raise a child, this town takes the maxim a step further. An estimated $283,000 in scholarships was bestowed on 120 students at the high school’s Honors Convocation last Friday, supporting their aspirations for college and the future.

Thanks to the Laguna Beach High School Scholarship Foundation, which maintains relationships with existing donors and cultivates new ones, the scholarships are as diverse as they are plentiful. Donated in honor of the living as well as the departed, or in the spirit of an organization’s or a family’s guiding principles, they go to recipients for various reasons: choice of school, career or sport; love for arts, humor or volunteerism; abstinence from alcohol or leadership.

Recipients of the Ebell Club accept their awards. Photo by Jody Tiongco

In all, this year’s tally came to 123, including three new scholarships.

The OC Youth Sports Foundation added the Paul Salata Award and an LBHS grad, Katherine McMahon, grabbed the inaugural award, given to a student as dedicated to their community as to their sport. The very specific “Bound for Berkeley” scholarship was created to honor a Laguna father of three, Paul Wollam, who died in 2011, for Berkeley-bound student who embraces the “aloha spirit” of helping others. And the Luby Family Musical Theatre scholarship provided two $1,000 scholarships to students who plan to pursue musical theatre in college. It honors James Luby, a recent graduate and high school actor now attending UCLA.

Retiring assistant principal Gretchen Ernsdorf, left, congratulated by Scholarship Foundation President Kerry Rubel. Photo by Jody Tiongco

“It’s the heart of Laguna that I see manifested here tonight,” said district superintendent Sherine Smith, addressing donors at an al fresco dinner on the quad.  “Not only are you investing in students, but also in our community and our country,” she added.

Two alumni and past scholarship recipients echoed that sentiment. John Hornbeak, class of ’99, described a trajectory that led him to Stanford and Oxford degrees, a product launch and his current job in stock research. Through it all, he said, he was bolstered by the sense of community back home “that doesn’t change.”

“This is where it all started,” agreed Annika Dries, an ’09 graduate and current member of the U.S. Olympic water polo team bound for London. “Belief in yourself is the biggest tool for success,” she said, and that’s what she absorbed from home. “I had everyone rooting for me here – family, friends, teachers and coaches.”

The LBHS Artists’ Theatre overflowed with family to see graduating seniors reap scores of scholarships. Photo by Jody Tiongco

A water polo tournament in Russia precluded Dries from attending her own honors convocation, where she was awarded five scholarships, including a water polo scholarship from the Masson Foundation. That award was to encourage polo players to stay in the game in college, said founder Melinda Masson.

Dries led Stanford University to the 2011 NCAA national championship where she was named the tournament’s MVP before taking this last year off to train for the Olympic games. She’ll return to Stanford in the fall and has set her sights on medical school.

Masson’s graduating daughter Melena will also attend Stanford and join its water polo team.

The scene of an al fresco dinner for donors preceding the presentations last Friday at the high school. Photo by Jody Tiongco

The pre-convocation donor reception served as a send-off for retiring high school assistant principal Gretchen Ernsdorf and the legendary Jeannie Harrell, the scholarship and community service coordinator.

Ernsdorf, a 29-year district employee, said students “make every day an adventure.” She said she strived to heed her father’s advice to “make a difference.”

Harrell, whose husband is an LBHS grad and who raised two sons here, joined the district 18 years ago. She barely managed to contain tears as she spoke. “Our kids come from a very special place,” she said. Describing the impact of her job supervising scholarship awards, she added, “I never could have imagined the joy and pride this has given me.”

The night’s most poignant moment went to Celestina De Leon, who received the $15,400 Linda and Joseph Leighton Memorial Scholarship, offered for the first time as a renewable award for four years. Daughter Lisa Leighton said her mother wanted to open doors for kids who lacked resources. Her son, Nicolas, a graduating senior, presented the scholarship to his own classmate, who, he said, had overcome a number of obstacles and “inspired us all.”

Celestina earned recognition by the school board for representing students with disabilities at a youth leadership forum last year. She will be the first generation in her family to attend college.

“I was in shock,” said Celestina, describing the moment the scholarship was announced. The sum should cover half the tuition at the University of Arizona, she figures. She also received the “Dream for the Future” scholarship and the April and Daphne Crevier Memorial Scholarships.

Leighton hopes other Laguna families step up and offer similar scholarships to “change someone’s life.”

And the winners are:

 “Ace Award” Accepting the Challenge of Excellence 500
Melanie Arteaga
‘A Dream for the Future’ Scholarship 9900
April Carlson
Celestina De Leon
Juliana Ferguson
Evan Kirkbride
Nicolas Leighton
Joshua Simkin
AAUW, Laguna Beach Branch Scholarship 2100
Teagan Barnes
Laura Kawashiri
Lauren Montgomery
Allen Bell Memorial Scholarship Fund 500
Gordon Belyea
April Carlson
American Legion Post 222 Citizenship Award 400
Bryce Blanton
Caroline Cannan
Frances Naude
Macklin Thornton
Anna Mary Beck Business Administration Scholarship 4950
Stephanie Alonso Avalos
Calvin Garmshausen
Austin Loomis
Adam Redding-Kaufman
Harrison Williams
April Crevier and Daphne Crevier Memorial Scholarships 2000
Savanna Danford
Celestina De Leon
Arthur B. Harward  Memorial Scholarship 2450
Gordon Belyea
Assistance League of Laguna Beach Scholarship 2000
Ashley Andrews
Melanie Arteaga
AYSO, Region 86, Laguna Beach Scholarship 1500
Paul Noppenberger
Torrie Ornelas
Barbara Diamond Excellence in Journalism Award 450
Alexandra Menkes
Barbara Laird ROP Memorial Scholarship 300
Melanie Arteaga
Bill O’Brien, Class of ’57, Memorial Scholarship 1150
Natasha Strickland
Bonnie S. Lang Memorial Scholarship 300
Taylor Kahn
Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach Scholarship – Main Branch 500
Diana Necula
Brandon Balsiger – Post Memorial Scholarship 3000
Lucas Barker
Brianna Mayer
Camron Blackburn Memorial Scholarship 4000
Lauren Michaels
Carmelita Nava Softball Award 500
Carissa Collins
Charlotte W. Munro Scholarship 1000
Elan Kramer
Lauren Montgomery
Christian Abel Memorial Scholarship 2000
Christa Chastain
Katelyn Walsh
Christian Service Award 1000
Bryce Blanton
Timothy Peterson
Macklin Thornton
Harrison Williams
Citizens Business Bank Scholarship 1250
Brianna Mayer
NIkolette Miller
Claes Andersen Hospitality Scholarship Fund 1000
Claire Jaeger
CLARK Family Scholarship 500
Joshua Simkin
Community Learning Center Scholarship 1000
Savannah Graf
Courtney Kelley Cohen Memorial Scholarship 1500
Gordon Belyea
CSEA, California School Employees Association, Laguna Beach Chapter #131 Scholarship 1500
Yoshiye Andersen
Cheyenne Holt
Nolan McConnell
Dallas and Les Billinger Memorial Scholarship 500
Bryce Blanton
Daughters of the American Revolution Award(s) 500
Gordon Belyea
Dave and Jo Long Scholarship 2000
Shelby Jensen
Lauren Montgomery
David and Betsy Paul Memorial Acting Scholarship 550
Jackson Tupy
Diane Alpert “I Love Laguna” Scholarship 250
NIkolette Miller
Dick Metz Surf Foundation Scholarship 1000
Lauren Montgomery
Don Kucera Memorial Scholarship 500
Elan Kramer
Don Nichols Scholarship(s) 12000
Teagan Barnes
Teresa Hung
Laura Kawashiri
Brianna Mayer
Avrie Romanow
Katelyn Walsh
Dr. Steven and Mrs. Lor Speach Community College Scholarship 3000
Melanie Arteaga
Beau Bourne
Enrique Delatorre
Nayele Espiritu
Shelby Jensen
Curtis Nichols
Dr. William White Memorial Scholarship 1000
George Sadler
Driven to the Max Award 4000
Erik Henrikson
Caroline Holte
Lauren Michaels
Thomas Renner
Earl Family Scholarship 1000
Alexandra Menkes
Ebell Club Scholarship(s) 4000
Caroline Cannan
Vesta Goshtasbi
Caroline Holte
Macklin Thornton
Eric Abernathy Memorial Scholarship 700
Gordon Belyea
Exchange Club Youth of the Year Award 1000
Cassandra Castro
Paul Noppenberger
Festival of Arts Scholarship – Film 1000
Ryan Cavanaugh
Festival of Arts Scholarship – Performing Arts 18000
Sarah Busic
Elizabeth Davis
Alex Hunt
Elan Kramer
Nicolas Leighton
Frances Naude
Laura Otsu
Macarena Rivera
Lily Rogers
Samuel Thornton
Jackson Tupy
Festival of Arts Scholarship – Visual Arts 3800
Evan Rubel
Jackson Yamasaki
Festival of Arts Scholarship – Writing 2000
Natalie Redwitz
First Team Estates Scholarship 1000
Laura Kawashiri
Foundation Scholarship 1000
Noelle Martinez
Fred Pratley Memorial Scholarship 500
Erik Henrikson
French Foreign Language Achievement Award 1600
Mariana Acevedo-Mesa
Stephanie Alonso Avalos
Lucas Barker
Moriah Berger
Ryan Cavanaugh
Paula Gogatz
Selina Lambert
Diana Necula
Laura Otsu
Lily Rogers
Friends of Laguna Library Scholarship 1000
Marley Donenfeld
Gerald A. Dennis Scholarship 500
Teresa Hung
Noelle Martinez
Gerald A. Neumann Memorial Scholarship 500
Conor Ross
Grapes for Grads Scholarship 8000
Caroline Cannan
Hannah Jonus
Katherine McMahon
Macklin Thornton
Heather Brobeck Memorial Scholarship 2000
Gordon Belyea
Bryce Blanton
Helen F. &  Alan E. Adams Memorial Scholarship 5500
Christa Chastain
Laura Kawashiri
Amanda Mccrory
NIkolette Miller
James Patrick Vincent and Marian Pickens Fagan Scholarship Fund 9850
Mariana Acevedo-Mesa
Teresa Hung
Jennifer Lynn Bammer Memorial Scholarship 500
Yaretsi Mendoza
Jerome Karp Scholarship 500
Kailani Bonin
Jessica Wagner Memorial Scholarship 2300
Brianna Mayer
Joe Thurston Scholarship Fund 17400
Stephanie Alonso Avalos
Tori Barnes
Katharine Barton
Moriah Berger
Kylie Boyd
Cassandra Castro
Chase Cornell
Shasta Delgado
Calvin Garmshausen
Leanne Huynh
Belinda Hyland
Taylor Kahn
Benjamin Kahn
Rachele Killian
Nicholas Kinsman
Natalia Larek
Austin Loomis
Natalie Lopez
Camille Lopez
Paul Mauntel
Maddison Montes
Savannah Nielson
Magali Ramirez
Myriah Reynolds
Sebastian Roger
Brianna Rubow
Cayla Schaller
Alexander Shapero
Lucas Stevens
Nina Thornton
Taylor Weiss
Harrison Williams
Joey Masella Scholarship 500
Bryce Blanton
Juan Castano Memorial Scholarship 850
April Carlson
Torrie Ornelas
Kea Simon Medical Scholarship 2000
Tara Ronson
Keith Childers Memorial Scholarship 1200
Nicholas Austin
Kenneth G. Beyer Memorial Scholarship 1050
Vesta Goshtasbi
Kiwanis: H. Lee Burton Memorial Scholarship 275
Savannah Graf
Laguna Beach Business Club Entrepreneurial Scholarship 1000
Bailey Romatoski
Laguna Beach Garden Club Scholarship 1500
Yaretsi Mendoza
Laguna Beach Live! Scholarship 500
Elan Kramer
Laguna Beach Unified Faculty Association Scholarship 750
Caroline Cannan
Laguna Board of Realtors and Affiliates 1500
Gordon Belyea
Katelyn Walsh
Laguna Greenbelt Inc. Scholarship 1500
Juliana Ferguson
LBHS Alumni Scholarship 6000
Ashley Andrews
April Carlson
Greg Farnes
Evan Kirkbride
Marisa Merchant
Conor Ross
LBHS Athletic Boosters Scholarship Award 4000
Marley Donenfeld
Marina Paul
Thomas Renner
Kevin Ulibarri
LBHS Class of 1998 Scholarship 500
Melanie Arteaga
LBHS Faculty La Vern Dugger Memorial Scholarship 1000
Caroline Cannan
Caroline Holte
LBHS Performing Arts Booster Scholarship 8750
Sarah Busic
Elizabeth Davis
Alex Hunt
Elan Kramer
Nicolas Leighton
Natalie Redwitz
Macarena Rivera
Lily Rogers
Conor Ross
Jackson Tupy
Les Chatham Memorial Award, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 5868 200
Marley Donenfeld
Belinda Hyland
Linda and Joseph Leighton Memorial Scholarship 15800
Celestina De Leon
Linda Fortune Memorial Scholarship 500
Caroline Holte
Luby Family Musical Theater Scholarship 2000
Elizabeth Davis
Nicolas Leighton
MacGillivray/Freeman Film Award(s) 2000
Sarah Busic
Elan Kramer
Margaret Louise Cox Memorial Scholarship 550
Macarena Rivera
Marge Swanson Mission Hospital Laguna Beach Award 8000
Vesta Goshtasbi
Hannah Jonus
Laura Otsu
Natasha Strickland
Mark Tiner Memorial Scholarship 1000
Timothy Peterson
Mark Tiner Memorial Spirit Award 1000
Wyatt Kirkland
Marshall Klapman Memorial Scholarship 2000
Caroline Cannan
Katherine McMahon
Masson Foundation Water Polo Scholarship 20000
Yoshiye Andersen
Erik Henrikson
Nolan McConnell
Thomas Renner
Matthew Reedy Memorial Scholarship 1000
Gordon Belyea
McPhisto Society Award 175
Alex Hunt
Melvin J. Tonkon MD Medical Scholarship 4000
Hannah Jonus
MUN Rome Friesen Scholarship 500
Adam Redding-Kaufman
Macklin Thornton
Harrison Williams
Myrna Heitel Music Scholarship 1000
Elan Kramer
Noelle Martinez
National Charity League, Laguna Chapter Scholarship 1500
Katherine McMahon
Naude Family ‘Clean Ocean’ Scholarship 2000
Dane Doran
Juliana Ferguson
No Square Scholarship 1000
Elan Kramer
OC Youth Sports Foundation 2500
Katherine McMahon
Olga Tursini Torriero Linguistics Award 1000
Lily Rogers
Patricia Neill Kidd Memorial Scholarship 400
Christa Chastain
Paul Wollam Scholarship 1000
Macklin Thornton
Red Guyer Athletic Scholarship 500
Nolan McConnell
Robert C. and Lillian N. DuSoe Scholarship, Music 3500
Elan Kramer
Samuel Thornton
ROP Distinguished Student Award 275
Laura Otsu
Rotary – Harry Bithell “Service Above Self” Award 5000
Marcella Bechtel
Thomas Renner
Conor Ross
Rotary – Robert Kellogg Eagle Scout Memorial Scholarship 500
Timothy Peterson
Rotary – Student of the Month 3600
Kailani Bonin
Evan Kirkbride
Elan Kramer
Nicolas Leighton
Allison Palmer
Marina Paul
Derek Reigel
Macklin Thornton
Jackson Tupy
Rotary Club of Laguna Beach Service Award 7000
Victoria (Tory) Lynde
Noelle Martinez
Alexandra Menkes
Natasha Strickland
Sawdust Visual Arts Scholarship(s) 3000
Savanna Danford
Schools First Federal Credit Union Scholarship 500
Lauren Montgomery
Skipper Carrillo Scholarship 550
Mollie Khachadoorian
Soroptimist International of Laguna Beach – Alberta Patterson Scholarship 2000
Caroline Cannan
Lauren Montgomery
Soroptimist International of Laguna Beach – Special Achievement Awards 5000
Savanna Danford
Savannah Eisert
Selina Lambert
Brianna Mayer
Alexandra Menkes
South Laguna Civic Association Scholarship 1000
Evan Kirkbride
The TLC Branch of Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach 500
April Carlson
TOW/El MORRO Red Ribbon Scholarship 1400
Madeline Brian
Belinda Hyland
Village Laguna Annual Scholarship 1000
Juliana Ferguson
Walt Lawson Student Service Challenge Scholarship 550
Victoria (Tory) Lynde
Warren B. Blossom Memorial Golf Scholarship 550
Vivian Mendoza
Timothy Peterson
Weaver Family Scholarship 4500
Yoshiye Andersen
William R. Stapleton Memorial Scholarship 1000
Vivian Mendoza
Winston and Dorothy Updegraff Memorial Scholarship 250
Alexandra Menkes
Woman’s Club of Laguna Beach Scholarship 500
Natasha Strickland

 

Paul Wollam Scholarship recipient Macklin Thornton (center). Photo by Marsha Aronoff

LBHS Class of 1998 Scholarship recipient Melanie Arteaga (right). Photo by Marsha Aronoff.

Luby Family Musical Theatre Scholarship recipients Nicolas Leighton (left) and Elizabeth Davis (right). Photo by Marsha Aronoff.

Most Distinguished ROP Student of the Year, Laguna Beach Unified School District: Laura Otsu (right). Photo by Marsha Aronoff.

National Charity League, Laguna Chapter Scholarship recipient Katherine McMahon (right). Photo by Marsha Aronoff.

Friends of Laguna Beach Library Scholarship recipient Marley Donenfeld (right). Photo by Marsha Aronoff.

Laguna Beach Business Club Entrepreneurial Scholarship recipient Bailey Romatoski (second from right). Photo by Marsha Aronoff.

Laguna Beach Unified Faculty Association Scholarship recipient Caroline Cannan (left). Photo by Marsha Aronoff.

Daughters of the American Revolution Award recipient Gordon Belyea (left). Photo by Marsha Aronoff.

Laguna Beach Garden Club Scholarship recipient Yaretsi Mendoza (left). Photo by Marsha Aronoff.

Dick Maetz Surf Foundation Scholarship recipient Lauren Montgomery (right). Photo by Marsha Aronoff.

OC Youth Sports Foundation recipient Katherine McMahon (right). Photo by Marsha Aronoff.

Sawdust Festival Visual Arts Scholarship recipient Savanna Danford (left). Photo by Marsha Aronoff.

Community Learning Center Scholarship recipient Savannah Graf (left). Photo by Marsha Aronoff.

McPhisto Society Award: Alex Hunt (second from left). Photo by Marsha Aronoff.

Melvin J. Tonkon, M.D. Medical Scholarship recipient Hannah Jonus (right). Photo by Marsha Aronoff.

Myrna Heitel Music Scholarship recipients Noelle Martinez (left) and Elan Kramer (right). Photo by Marsha Aronoff.

Rotary Club of Laguna Beach presented Robert Kellogg Eagle Scout Memorial Scholarship recipient Timothy Peterson (left). Photo by Marsha Aronoff.

Red Guyer Athletic Scholarship recipient Nolan McConnell (right). Photo by Marsha Aronoff.

First Team Estates Scholarship recipietn Laura Kawashiri (center). Photo by Marsha Aronoff.

Village Laguna Annual Scholarship recipient Juliana Ferguson (center). Photo by Marsha Aronoff.

Mark Tiner Memorial Scholarship recipient Timothy Peterson (center). Photo by Marsha Aronoff.

Olga Tursini Torriero Linguistics Award recipient Lily Rogers (right). Photo by Marsha Aronoff.

Fred Pratley Mmeorial Scholarship recipient Erik Henrikson (right). Photo by Marsha Aronoff.

Weaver Family Scholarship recipient Yoshiye Andersen (right). Photo by Marsha Aronoff.

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