Students win big on Senior Awards Night

Students win big on Senior Awards Night

Rosa Ramirez, Staff Photographer

At the Senior Awards ceremony hosted in the Downey Theatre, on June 9, senior Sara Paik receives the title for valedictorian. Seniors received a variety of awards for athleticism, grade point average, clubs and groups, attendance, and achievements they have accomplished.

Sharon Kim, Parents & Teachers Editor

A select group of roughly 150 seniors streamed into the Downey Civic Theatre at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 9, to receive scholarships from various organizations and benefactors dedicated to funding students’ college educations.

Minutes before the show began, the sharply-dressed seniors were directed to enter the performers’ entrance of the theatre. Once inside, they were ushered behind the red curtain where rows of folding chairs had been set up. To the students’ great surprise, they would be seated on stage while the scholarships were being presented.

The award ceremony, which lasted two hours, followed a consistent format. The two student MCs would begin with a brief introduction of the company or individual sponsoring the award. Then, the official presenters would take the podium and give a brief history about the company or the origins of the scholarship. One or more names of the recipients would be read off, to which the student(s) would stand from their seats amidst applause, walk to the podium, shake hands with the presenters, and accept the award.

Many students who were invited to the Senior Awards were nominated for more than one scholarship. Senior Megan Newbold took home perhaps the largest amount of awards, including a $1,000 grant from the Women’s Club of Downey and a check for being of Puerto Rican descent.

“I already knew I had won some scholarships, but a few I was called up for were a complete surprise to me,” Newbold said. “I’m thankful that so many generous people are giving me financial assistance in my education.”

The Kiwanis organization gave out hefty awards during the ceremony for categories such as Academic Excellence and Community Service. There were also several memorial scholarships. Families who had lost loved ones annually fund grants to deserving students who they believe will best carry on the legacy of the deceased.

The esteemed Dr. Mary Stauffer also made an appearance to give an extraordinary contribution of $2,000 each to 32 Downey students. The woman was greeted with giant applause from both the seniors and the audience for her generous financial donations to the Downey Unified School District.

“Mrs. Stauffer is an amazing woman,” senior Adam Esparza said. “Every year she buys the school computers, textbooks, and whatever else we need, and she also gives a lot of money to students and athletes through scholarships.”

Various elementary schools also sponsored scholarships to an alumnus who they felt had exemplified great academic success and good citizenship. The school’s Junior Statesmen of America (JSA) club was also honored for their recent National Civic Impact Award and given $2,000 in funding.

Finally, the night came to a close with the announcement of the Valedictorian Sara Paik and Salutatorian. The two were given a brief introduction by Mr. Houts, who took the liberty to share the girls’ GPAs. Then, representatives from Downey Nissan emerged from backstage to present the ladies with giant checks for $1,000 to fund their college educations.

“I was surprised when Mr. Houts introduced us all of a sudden,” Paik said. “It was an honor to be sponsored by Nissan and receive the plaque. I’m thankful for their contribution to our education.”

After the top two were given their monetary funds, the night came to a close. The scholarship recipients, benefactors, and parents all swarmed outside the theatre to take pictures and to partake in the light refreshments.

An estimated 150 students were given monetary support to fund their college educations. Thanks to the gracious contributions from companies, families, and charitable individuals like Dr. Stauffer, many students are one step further on their pathways to stable careers and success.