Ten Midlothian ISD seniors got a boost toward their future education with scholarships from the Midlothian Masonic Scholarship Foundation.
The foundation, formed by the Lodge in 2007 to raise money to expand the existing scholarship program, gave a total of $10,000 in scholarships at a special ceremony Thursday night. To date, the foundation has awarded more than $100,000 in scholarships.
Applications for the scholarships are open to all Midlothian ISD seniors. The foundation does not require Masonic affiliation to donate to or receive a scholarship.
This year, 46 students applied to the foundation, said Duke Burge, a Past Master of the Midlothian Lodge. A committee of a district school board trustee, a district administrator, two past members of the foundation and a current foundation member review copies of the applications with all the names redacted and ranks the applications, he said.
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Worshipful Master of the lodge William Hileman was on this year's review committee and said it was difficult to pick between the applicants.
“I read through them all and I called Duke and asked how do you decide,” he said. “I felt like I was toying with kids' futures.”
The largest scholarship, the $3,000 Mirabeau B. Lamar Award honoring the Republic of Texas's first vice president and second president, was given to Lauren Blanchet.
Lamar, a mason himself, insisted the Texas Constitution include a free high school education for each student, Burge said. The infant state could not afford to fund that education so Masonic Lodges in each town began paying teachers' salaries and offering their lodge buildings for school houses. Lodges across Texas award scholarships in his honor each year.
Blanchet is an officer in the student council, a member of the National Honor Society as well as the National Society of High School Scholars. She was a member of the homecoming court and is a volunteer at the Mansfield Methodist Medial Center. She plans to attend Texas State or Oklahoma State university to major in psychology.
Katy Land, wife of Past Master Scott Land, presented the $500 Gwyn Dickson Weir Scholarship to Caitlyn Harder. The scholarship remembers Weir's dedication to her own education and encouraging Katy's own efforts.
“My grandmother was a small, feisty, honest intelligent and caring woman,” Katy said with tears in her eyes. “I really admired her because of her persistence.”
Weir broke the mold, perusing an education and a career in nursing and other interests instead of just staying at home, Katy said. Weir encouraged her to explore her own possibilities, she said. Katy said she received a college scholarship from a Masonic Logde as well.
“My grandmother would be thrilled she got to help your education,” Katy said.
The scholarship was awarded to Caitlyn Harder, who plans to attend Texas A&M for biology or dentistry. Harder is a member of the National Honor Society, Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), student council, a cheerleader and volunteer at MidTowne Assisted Living Center. She is also involved in Peer Assistance Leadership.
Ayanna Brown received the $500 Spc. Aaron L. Preston Scholarship. The scholarship is funded by a donation in honor of Preston, the brother-in-law of a lodge member who was killed in action in Afghanistan. An explosive ordinance specialist, he was killed by an IED while searching for them ahead of other troops. Brown is the secretary for the National Honor Society, a Midlothian ISD school board student representative and involved with the district's Special Olympics program. She plans to attend Spelman College to major in biology.
The foundation's own fundraising this year awarded three $1,000 scholarships to Morgan Bailey Griffin, Amanda Penwarden and Hanna Yarbrough.
Griffin is a member of the student council, the National Honor's Society, FCCLA, Peer Assistance Leadership, played volleyball for four years and volunteered for the Rowdy Runners, the American Heart Association and the Salvation Army. She plans to attend Texas A&M to be a chemical engineer.
Penwarden plans to attend Dallas Baptist University to study graphic design. She has received numerous awards for writing and photography, is the editor of Panther Press, on the yearbook staff, rans cross country and track, is a member of the National Honor's Society and is active at her church and with Manna House.
Yarbrough plans to study accounting at Hardin Simmons University. She is a member of the National Honor Society, has received numerous awards at the state level in FFA and FCCLA and volunteers at her church and Salvation Army's Camp Hoblitzelle.
Chelby Miller, who received the Marjorie McDowell scholarship worth $1,000, had not decided on a college, but plans to study architecture. She holds several club offices and is a volunteer at Manna House and the North Chase Apartments for the elderly and disabled.
The last $1,000 scholarship, the Orville Hunter Scott Scholarship, was awarded to Liliana Arzola-Estrada who plans to study microbiology at the University of Texas at Arlington. She is a member of the National Honor Society as well as many clubs and participates at Mission Arlington.
The Order of the Eastern Star donated two $500 scholarships from their own fundraising activities. Recipients Megan Coloma mad Hayleigh Simpson both plan to study nursing. Coloma plans to attend Navarro College. She is a member of student council and is a Midlothian REACH Council volunteer. Simpson participates in Advancement Via Individual Determination and FCCLA as well as numerous community service activities.
“We believe in education. I have benefited from it all my life,” said Worthy Matron Lynn Morris, who presented the Eastern Star scholarships. “I congratulate you on your heard work to get to this position and to earn these scholarships.”
Contact Bethany Kurtz at 469-517-1450 or email email@example.com. Follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BethanyKurtzMidloMirror or on Twitter @bethmidlomirror.