Congrats to Lauren!
This morning, at school, we gathered with the high school students, in the new school’s gym, to award the $1,000 Christi Thomas Memorial Scholarship and also an additional $1600 in smaller scholarships. For all who have donated to Christi’s Memorial Fund, please accept our deepest thanks. Although very hard emotionally, it gives us great comfort to be able to let others “live on” through Christi’s memory.
I must admit that we struggled while reading and evaluating every applicant’s essay, application and letters of recommendation. It’s just so hard knowing this is all taking place because Christi is dead, and it also reconfirms the fact she didn’t get the chance to grow up and live like so many other young people. Regardless of my own self-pity, there were incredible applicants again this year!
The Scholarship Committee selected Lauren as the $1,000 winner and we added some “book scholarships” because Christi loved reading and because there were so many great applicants! Congratulations to: Brittany P., Brittany E., Ashley, Andrea, Amber, Brianne, Haley and Danielle on their $200 book scholarships. We wish them the very best for continued success and happiness!
As Shayne commented to me one night as we were scoring the applicants, “These girls probably have no idea how well we know their references and that I’d give any one of them a kidney if they needed one.” With references like: our favorite children’s librarian (Barb), Father Joe, our favorite teachers and a coach, etc. it really was amazing! As always, some of the essays were very touching. I’ll share here:
My opportunity to move forward in life and to pursue more education is an extremely exciting one. In my pursuit, I know I will need support and comfort and am not afraid to ask for it, as it has been asked of me countless times. Therefore, I request your consideration of a scholarship in memory of a child who would certainly do the same.
Most children do not realize the significance of the gift of learning that has been given to them by their parents and teachers. Until they are mature enough to appreciate its importance, students usually take school and the care of everyone around them for granted. Christi Thomas, however, grasped her admiration of this big world at a young age and at the toughest time of her life. I am at a point in my life where I now realize how fortunate I am to have a family who would do anything for me and to have community members who have provided education, church, libraries etc. As in Christi’s story, life is not guaranteed, but it can be a fulfilling adventure no matter how long we are here on earth.
Here’s another: Christi was a very caring person and she was very brave and hard working. Anytime I was around her, it was obvious that people knew she was involved with things any chance she had. In the short time I knew her, the qualities she displayed and the type of person she was showed how great of a person she really was. She was one of those kids who loved to be involved and who loved to learn. Throughout her life, she did so many things and affected so many people. She taught me you can’t take life for granted and that every day is a blessing. As Christi displayed to many people, she never gave up and she always tried hard. I hope to take this with me in whatever I do and I hope that I can make the best out of my life.
PHOTO: Lauren (little one in the middle) meeting newborn Christi Thomas at the hospital. I still remember their family bringing Christi a darling little white outfit, with red little rose buds on it!
Lauren loves music! She is a member of the band, choir and show choir. She was the school’s Field Commander and had a lead role in “Oklahoma” as Laurie. She wrote, “Ever since I have been able to read, I have loved doing that as well.” I vividly remember her reading fluently, while she was in my kindergarten class. Statistically, only one percent of children read upon entering kindergarten. (Can you see why we thought she had a lot in common with Christi?!) Lauren also holds down a part time job at a restaurant, was the President of the class of 2008, was a member of the National Honor Society. She had a 3.93 GPA and wrote, “I believe my previous, current and future contributions to the world will be under caring and loving conditions as Christi’s always were and would have always been.”
Father Joe wrote that Lauren’s activities were as diverse as Christi’s own interests. She played high school volleyball, basketball and softball and also regularly attended Mass where she sings in the choir and has served Mass and assisted with Vacation Bible School (always a favorite of Christi’s the priest wrote – so true!). One of my favorite teachers (my sub when I was with Christi and after her death until I could get myself back together to return to work) and one of Shayne’s favorite football and basketball coaches wrote about Lauren on his basketball team. “She did not start, nor did she score many points, but she was our most valuable player. Her attitude was outstanding and effort was remarkable.” (Of course she’s so tiny, I cannot even imagine she could play basketball, but GOOD FOR HER!)
As we were giving away scholarships today, I learned this afternoon that I am receiving a $1,000 scholarship to help pay for my OSU tuition costs next year!!!!! I'll write more about that later, but I thought today's timing was very interesting as I struggled much of the morning trying to stop my tears which start pouring out as soon as I opened my mouth to present this morning's awards!!