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JFK Scholarship Foundation Holds Evening of Honor

JFK Scholarship Foundation honors Kennedy High School students at Knott's Berry Farm Resort Hotel Saturday, May 9. Photo by Loreen Berlin

JFK Scholarship Foundation honors Kennedy High School students at Knott’s Berry Farm Resort Hotel Saturday, May 9. Photo by Loreen Berlin

By Loreen Berlin

The Scholarship Foundation of John F. Kennedy High School in La Palma, held its 2015 fundraising dinner Saturday, May 9, at the Knott’s Berry Farm Resort Hotel, in Buena Park.

Before and during dinner, a silent auction was held, followed by 19 students being recognized as recipients in this year’s 19th scholarship year.

Those honored include: Levi Campello, Gabriella Diaz, Kristine Galiger, Catarina Jespersen, Sun Kang, Hye Yeon Kim, Zachary Lewis, Victoria Lumar, Solbee O, Michelle Park, Sohyeon Park, Taylor Quan, Andrea Rodriguez, Shelby Rogers, Esbeyde Sanchez, Simran Swaitch, Ty Tanioka,  Jasson Rios-Vega and Shaina Yoo.

Other scholarships were presented by Scholarship Foundation Founder Brian O’Neal.

The Foundation, founded in 1995, has awarded more than $103,000 in scholarships to 167 graduating seniors from John F. Kennedy High School. The proceeds from the evening’s event help support the scholarships.

Brian O’Neal explained how the JFK Scholarship Foundation and the Chris O’Neal Scholarship came to be.

“Chris (his first wife -deceased) and I had talked about how we could give back to the community before her illness,” he said. “My Dad had been instrumental in starting a successful scholarship foundation in Santa Barbara in 1962 and we thought it would be nice if we could do something like that someday, so, after Chris’ death in 1994, I reached out to four other local people whom we had both known, and the founding Board was formed; we incorporated in December 1995, and the first awards were two $100 scholarships in June 1996,” he said.

“If we can imagine it, we can achieve it, if we can dream it, we can become it.”

Four General Scholarships were awarded to four seniors: Solbee O, Michelle Park, Sohyeon Park and Ty Tanioka. The scholarship emphasizes GPA, school activities, work and/or volunteering.

Andrea Rodriguez was the recipient of the Duke DeKovner Memorial Scholarship which places an emphasis on grades and school activities.

Esbeyde Sanchez was the recipient of the Eva Lutz Memorial Scholarship, which is in pursuit of a career in Fine Arts or Performing Arts.

Sanchez and her three siblings performed during the evening on harp, violin and several different guitars and vocals; they are the “Los Sanchez Mariachi” performing for special events.

The two Nitesh and Niti Patel Volunteer Scholarships emphasize volunteerism and for students attending a community college. Zachary Lewis and Simran Swaitch, respectively, received those two awards.

The Chris O’Neal Memorial Scholarship, for whom the JFK Scholarship program was begun and now honors, was presented to Shelby Rogers, for significant volunteerism in the community.

Victoria Lumar received the Bob Van Herk Memorial Scholarship, for a female senior who played Varsity Soccer.

The Donald Widen Memorial Scholarship emphasizes mathematics and sciences went to Catarina Jespersen.

La Palma Intercommunity Hospital Healthcare Scholarship is for a career in health care was awarded to Hye Yeon Kim.

Adrian and Monique Ibarra (Each One Teach One) Scholarship are for seniors of Hispanic descent was awarded to Levi Campello and Gabriella Diaz.

Michele Steggell and Mark 1 Real Estate Scholarship is for a senior who will be the first in their family to graduate from college  went to Sun Kang.

Grace HyeRi Lee Scholarship is for a student attending a community college with plans to transfer to a four-year college was awarded to Kristine Galiger.

Taylor Quan was awarded the Aragona Family Scholarship for seniors in the JROTC program

Glenn Taylor Memorial Scholarship focuses on becoming a teacher (Taylor himself was a teacher) was awarded to Shaina Yoo.

New this year is the Neighborhood Watch Scholarship, which is for a senior who volunteers in the community went to recipient Jasson Rios-Vega.

For JFK Scholarship Foundation information and to donate, mail to P.O. Box 1371, Cypress, CA 90630 or call 714-826-4537; eail [email protected]  or visit http://jfkscholarshipfoundation.org.