Today we convened the Patrick Straut Foundation Board to compare our review of applications for the scholarship this year. This is always a special day for me, bittersweet because I’d rather not have a memorial fund in my son’s name, but it feels great to help deserving graduating seniors as they plan for their futures.
The applications this year from the Wheat Ridge High School Gifted and Talented Center seniors were amazing. All of the students have a plan, all showed resilience and growth throughout their high school years. I will say more about them once we surprise them with the scholarships next week.
One of my Board members said today that it would be great to provide updates on the students who receive the scholarships at time intervals after they receive them. That sounded like a great idea, and where better to start than with the first four recipients, four of Patrick’s closest friends.
In May 2012, the Board of the Jefferson Country Association for Gifted Children and other donors provided $600 in funding in Patrick’s name for scholarships to high school graduates in 2012. I was extremely honored and grateful for this funding. I also want to acknowledge that this brilliant idea was Jean Willis-Brown’s, a dear friend and fellow advocate for gifted and talented kids over the past two decades.
As we believe would have been Patrick’s wish, we split the funding among four very close friends of his who met their graduation requirements in 2012. Those recipients were: Richard Lewis Benton III, who graduated from Dakota Ridge HS, Steven Malunat, who graduated from Brady Exploration HS, Shane Michael Mason who completed graduation requirements at Long View HS (his graduation ceremony was in May, 2013), and Avery Worland, who graduated from Dakota Ridge HS.
What still amazes me and fills my heart is that all four of them are still family friends. In fact, three were on my porch this very afternoon. Here’s a brief update on where they are today.
Richy has lived with us for much of the past five years. He arrived in February of his senior year in high school. In so many ways, Richy has filled the space left by Patrick. He has truly become part of our family. Richy has taken some college courses, works full-time, has a lovely girlfriend, and is finding his way. He plans to attend college again as soon as he gets his own place this spring.
Shane married the love of his life, Tyne, nearly two years ago. We were honored when they each asked us to host their pre-wedding events at our house. We had an awesome bridal shower for Tyne, we hosted the “Merry Men” party for Shane where all the guys collected for a video game shoot out, complete with beer and loaded nachos. Both of them currently work at King Soopers. They are saving their money to fund college plans, one at a time.
Steven bought a house late last year. He’s a hard worker, working two jobs pretty much since graduation from high school. He saved up to get a beautiful home in the mountains and his love for it shows when he talks about his new place. Steven is working full-time as a plumber and taking the required courses to obtain his certifications and licensure.
Avery completed most of his Associate degree without taking a penny in loans. He postponed completion until he has more confidence regarding how he would use the degree. Avery is currently working in water management for a metro area city.
I am so proud of all of these initial scholarship recipients. I am honored that they still stop by, just to visit; that they show up for every milestone honoring Patrick. I am happy that they have welcomed Brendan into their friend group, and that they let me “mother” them when I need to.