DOWNEY - Local philanthropist Dr. Mary Stauffer wrote checks totaling $22,800 to more than 175 Downey middle school students during a recognition ceremony Nov. 4-5 at the Barbara J. Riley Community & Senior Center.The money will be used by students to open or add to their college savings plan. All 176 DUSD students who received awards earned straight A's for both semesters as fifth or sixth graders during the 08-09 school year. A total of 218 students qualified, and 186 applied for the award. Of the 186 applicants, 176 attended the awards ceremonies. Checks for $100 each were issued to 163 students. Thirteen students were recognized as "Stauffer Scholars of the Year" and received $500 checks. Stauffer Scholars have their names engraved on their school's perpetual plaque which hangs at the school. This year's Stauffer Scholars include Christopher Portillo (East Middle School), Whitney Pemberton (Griffiths), Calyn Herrington (Sussman), Johnny Yu (West), Alexis Guerra (Carpenter) Ellis Tirado (Gallatin), Candice Burruel (Gauldin), Anthony Laverde (Lewis), Jaqueline Martinez (Old River), Javier Padilla (Price), Kristi Bourret (Rio Hondo), Jonathan Yi (Rio San Gabriel) and Amber Martinez (Unsworth). Linda Kennedy, retired director of curriculum and instruction at DUSD, was guest speaker at the event. She spoke about the benefits of starting a college savings plan early. Stauffer told the kids that, "Education is the best investment that you could ever make." She encouraged all the children to attend college. School board members Willie Gutierrez and Donald LaPlante also spoke on the importance of a college education. Assisting with the event were students from Warren High School's Girls League (Simrat Thind, Gifty Assibey, Maria Santana, Sanjana Narkar and Michelle Bertinelli) and Link Crew (Ana Perez, Brianna Mendoza, Esteban Garcia, Juan Lopez and Matt Lilley). Ana Thorne, a senior secretary, coordinated the application process and prepared the certificates.
********** Published: November 20, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 31