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OHS Seniors Earn $120,000 In Scholarship Awards
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Oakdale High School senior Laurie Baxter, left, accepts a scholarship certificate from OHS counselor John Arsenio at the Senior Scholarship Night on May 8 at the Gene Bianchi Community Center. Baxter was the recipient of seven scholarships. - photo by Dawn M. Henley/The Leader

With more than $120,000 in pledges and donations for scholarships this year, 105 seniors from Oakdale High School turned out for the 44th Annual Scholarship Night program at the Gene Bianchi Community Center on May 8.

OHS College Counselor Denise Hitch told the audience that the counselors began meeting with seniors in August and told them that the year would go by quickly.

“One (application) a week is all we ask, but that’s really asking a lot,” Hitch said.” Applying for scholarships is a lot of work. Tonight’s program will reflect their hard work.”

She added that some seniors actually took up the challenge of turning in one scholarship application a week and some even did the challenging essay-required applications.

A number of students earned several scholarships each at this year’s event. Senior Jose Paredes collected the most (not ranked by dollar amount) with 11 scholarships.

“Jose’s amount (of scholarships) was record breaking as far as I can remember,” Hitch said.

She added that Paredes worked very hard on the applications, applied to “tons” of scholarships, and is also deserving of the awards.

Seniors Carly Rodgers, Laurie Baxter, and Kaila Olson each captured seven scholarships. Justin Martin received six. Nicole Armstrong, Emily Clayton, and Nathan Van Ryn each earned five.

Leticia Salas, Career and Scholarship Technician for OHS, reported that there were also a few new scholarships that were created this year. They include the Jim Cook Memorial Football Scholarship and the Mustang Character Award, The Club of Hearts Scholarship, 125th Anniversary of the Young Ladies Institute (YLI) Scholarship, and the Sierra View Elementary School “Former Student” Scholarship.

Justin Martin won the Jim Cook Memorial Football Scholarship and the Mustang Character Award, which recognizes a deserving varsity player that exemplifies the qualities that Cook lived by – honesty, integrity, perseverance, and hard work.

Recipients of The Club of Hearts Scholarships were Melissa Rivera, Kristen Brunk, Claribel Gonzalez, and Jennie Siemsen. Club of Hearts raises funds for the purpose of providing scholarships to deserving local young women and assisting in meeting their college goals.

Thomas “Hank” Walter won the YLI 125th Anniversary Scholarship, a new scholarship this year in honor of the club’s anniversary.

Salas added that this year’s graduating class of 2012 is the first to have students who came out of Sierra View Elementary School, which opened in 2005. Scholarship funds were raised through recycling and administrator donations at the school. The Sierra View Elementary School Former Student Scholarship recipients were Jared Firstbrook, Haley Stout, and Laurie Baxter.

“We’re very proud of our seniors, of their four years at Oakdale High School,” said Oakdale Joint Unified School District Superintendent Marc Malone. “With these types of scholarships, you’ve got to hand it to our community. They really give back.”

He added that the students in attendance at the event were privy to some special scholarships because they’ve performed at a level of excellence.