Thirty-nine of Payson’s graduating seniors and their families came to the first Senior Scholarship Ceremony on May 13 at Payson High School (PHS).
Also in the audience, more than two-dozen presenters for scholarships from colleges, to state and local organizations.
Principal Brian Mabb said he bucked tradition and separated the scholarship recipient portion of graduation from the traditional ceremony to save time.
In years past, Payson families have braved the elements to sit on the bleachers at the PHS football field for hours to listen to the litany of award winners.
Gear Up grant administrator Kristi Ford presented the first scholarship. She will be leaving the district this year as she has completed the federal grant sponsored by Eastern Arizona College.
Ford’s voice turned wistful as she said she has followed this senior class since they attended seventh grade as a condition of the grant. The purpose of the Gear Up grant was to have an advocate for the students follow them for seven years from middle school until they graduate to improve the graduation and college attendance rate.
“I will be the largest empty nester in Payson,” said Ford of the class graduating.
Other organizations such as the Mogollon Health Alliance, the Elks and Moose clubs, Kiwanis and Rotary gave out scholarships raised during the year from events put on by the organizations.
“We give out scholarships because of the community’s support,” said Daniel Tantimonaco. “Thank you.”
Two big winners were first-generation college attendee Jesus Apodaca who received $70,000 from the Dorrance Scholarship, and Jennifer Bailey who received $43,830 from the Careers with Culinary Arts Program (CCAP) to attend the Art Institute of Colorado.
For a list of scholarship winners and the totals of their awards, please see the Roundup’s graduation tabloid at the end of the month.