A celebratory gathering of graduating seniors along with donors and guests flowed into Laguna Beach High School’s Artists’ Theatre at the annual Honors Convocation where a record $380,975 in scholarship awards were bestowed Friday, June 10.
The 322 Laguna Beach High School Scholarship Foundation scholarships will aid 147 students in the pursuit of their future educational goals.
“We believe it opens doors, advances and enriches life,” said Lor Speach, who along with her husband, Dr. Steven Speach donated $4,500 to nine recipients who are enrolling in community colleges.
The couple have donated to the scholarship foundation since 2008 and were one of the 131 individual donors this year. “My husband started his first job as a shoeshine boy when he was 13-years-old and that’s when he started saving for college,” said Ms. Speach.
He would go on to become superintendent of the Oceanside School District and has since retired. Ms. Speach obtained three masters degrees during a teaching career.
Former LBHS student James Kimball started the Skipper Carrillo scholarship for his Eagle Scout badge when he was 14. The $500 scholarship went to track athlete Pearl Shoemaker. “She was the one that really stood out; she overcame challenges in the field, she lost friendships due to personal situations and still persevered academically improving her GPA significantly in two years,” Kimball said.
Zack Kovacic, 18, waited patiently during the four-hour ceremony to receive a $500 award from the Joe Thurston Scholarship fund, which he said he will apply towards Chico State where he plans to study construction management.
“I didn’t have to work extra hard to get into Chico; I just had to maintain the study habits that I’ve had for most of my educational life. In fact, I got into the honors program at Chico, which is really cool.” Asked for a source of inspiration, the recent CIF Championship baseball player quoted athlete Michael Jordan. “I can accept failure; everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying,” he said.
Each year, the foundation honors a member of the community that has made an extraordinary contribution. This year the crown went to Jeffrey Redeker, chair of a Rotary Club-sponsored Grapes for Grads event. Since its inception, the wine tasting fundraiser has reaped $190,000, mostly for LBHS students.
Walt Lawson, a former LBHS history teacher and counselor, introduced Redeker prior to the awards ceremony at a quad reception and buffet dinner prepared by school board member Ketta Brown.
The foundation owes its start to the Ebell Club, which in 1947 started the scholarship program to support LBHS graduates.
The non-profit program has grown through the combined efforts of community volunteers. Individual scholarships may be established by community organizations, service clubs, businesses or individual citizens. A minimum amount of $1,000 is required and the sponsor decides the name and amount of the award, the selection criteria and any special procedures.