More than $20,000 was awarded to area high school seniors during the annual Harlan County Community Scholarship Banquet held at Benham Schoolhouse Inn.
C.D. Morton, 2016 president of the Harlan County Community Scholarship Fund’s Board of Directors, commended the honorees and recognized the positive impact others in the room — parents, teachers, etc. — had on their lives.
Morton later played special tribute to educators attending the banquet, asking them to stand and be recognized during Teacher Appreciation Week.
“We all have a gift, but sometimes we forget to open the package. We need to thank those who help us unwrap that gift and that would be our school teachers,” said Morton. “We have excellent teachers in both school systems and we need to take a moment to recognize them for their devotion, dedication and commitment to their profession.”
Special recognition was given to the family of the late Reecie Stagnolia, a longtime educator and founding member of the community scholarship fund’s board of directors. Stagnolia had served on the board of directors for more than three decades.
On behalf of the scholarship board, Morton and board member Will Clem presented a special award to Stagnolia’s wife Martha, daughter Carole Ann, and brother and sister-in-law, Eugene and Betty Stagnolia.
“I am humbled and honored to honor Mr. Reecie Stagnolia… As we look at Reecie’s life, it was one devoted to education,” said Clem, citing numerous areas where Stagnolia served the children of Harlan County throughout his life. He noted Stagnolia’s tenure as a teacher, vice principal and superintendent of Harlan County Schools, chairman of the board of directors at Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College and as a founding member of the scholarship fund in 1983.
Donell Busroe, a local business owner and one of the first scholarship recipients after the fund was established, told the honorees that “no matter how well you have prepared yourselves for the next step in your lives, you will meet many unexpected challenges.” She gave examples of her family’s experiences with her daughter’s first year in college that just ended.
“The best advice I received this year came from Dr. (Abiodun) Akisanya, local pediatrician. In asking me how my daughter, Hannah, was doing in college, he said, ‘Just remind her that the time that she invests in herself for the next 10 years will determine her success for the rest of her life. Whether it is 10 years of education, or 10 years of work, it is the investment that counts. She cannot expect any return on that investment during those 10 years.’”
Busroe said, “I think that he has it exactly right. At a recent career day held at HCHS, I listened to four people who work in the medical field describe their educational journey. All of them went to college for six to10 years and every one of them is very successful in his or her career. They put the time in, delaying gratification and reward and sacrificing for their future and it paid off. I’m not saying that everyone in this room needs to go to college for 10 years in order to be successful, but you must be willing to invest in yourself for 10 years in order to achieve your goals. Success doesn’t happen overnight and it is not the result of straight A’s or lack of failure. Success is determined by one’s willingness to fail in order to achieve it.”
She said nothing that comes easy ever amounts to much. “It is the things that we work hardest at, the things that don’t come easy, that we appreciate the most later in life. The hard work and the failures prepare us for the real world. They develop character in us that will benefit us for the rest of our lives.”
The community scholarship fund is designated a 501 (C)(3) by the Internal Revenue Service. The fund operates solely on donations from individuals, organizations and businesses who support recognizing the Harlan County’s best and brightest students. Morton expressed appreciation to the list of sponsors for this year’s scholarships.
Donations are welcome at any time and can be mailed to the Harlan County Community Scholarship Fund Inc., ATTN: Susie Mavinidis, Treasurer, 106 South Cumberland Avenue, Harlan, KY 40831.
Scholarships presented at the banquet and the recipients were:
Harlan County Community Scholarships: Jerry Black Belvins, Logan Scott Burris and Katelyn Reynolds of Harlan County High School; and Lauren McCurry of Harlan High School.
Harlan County Soil Conservation District Scholarships: Nick Jarvis, Kaitlin Jenkins and Elyssa Slusher, Harlan High School; and Haley Anderson, Erinly Morgan Cornett, Kaitlynn Creech and Taylor Howard, Harlan County High School.
Bianchi Memorial Scholarships: Holly Hatfield, Harlan High School; and Abby Landis, Harlan County High School.
East Kentucky Social Club-Lynch Chapter Scholarship: Jada Jackson, Harlan County High School;
Loyall American Legion Post No. 273 Americanism Scholarship: Charles Scott Farmer of Harlan County High School and Brooklyn Massingill, Harlan High School.
J. Clark Metcalfe Memorial Scholarship: Abby Landis, Harlan County High School, and Amber Fee, Harlan High School.
Harlan County Community Foundation Scholarship: Holly Hatfield, Harlan High School, and Tyler Saylor, Harlan County High School.
Harlan Rotary Club Scholarship: Amber Fee, Harlan High School, and Tyler Saylor, Harlan County High School.