By Connie Leinbach
Ocracoke School’s eleven-member Class of 2016 received more than $418,000 in financial aid and scholarships, the most money ever awarded to local students.
“This class will be known for achieving academically, artistically and for having several athletic historical firsts,” said Walter Padgett, school principal, during graduation ceremonies June 12 in the school gym.
One of those athletic firsts was the boys’ basketball team winning a berth in the state tournament, though it lost in the first round.
“I am so proud of this group,” said Mary McKnight, school counselor. “They achieved a lot of this without any of my help.”
She said the total is approximate because sometimes the school doesn’t receive checks until August and the amounts can change.
Deana Seitz received the largest institutional scholarship of approximately $160,000, or full tuition for four years at Marlboro College, Marlboro, Vt.
She also was awarded $1,000 from the Ocracoke Invitational Surf Fishing Tournament, $2,000 from the NC Beach Buggy Association and $500 from Ocracoke Island Realty.
Evin Caswell received a total of $118,700, with the highest amount of $115,200 from two Susquehanna University scholarships where he will attend and continue his basketball career.
He also received the following: Ocracoke School PTA, $500; Ocracoke Alumni Association, $500; an athletic scholarship in memory of Anna and Edward Fryer, $1,500; and Ocracoke School Athletic Booster Club, $1,000.
Cecilia Carter, class valedictorian, who will study computer science at UNC Chapel Hill, received the largest institutional scholarship—the George and Frances London Scholarship for $30,000 over four years.
Carter also received the Hyde County Children Center Scholarship of $1,000.
Josie Winstead, class salutatorian, who will attend UNC Chapel Hill, received the Golden Leaf Scholarship of $3,000 for all four years of college; $10,000 from the State Employees Credit Union; $1,000 from Tideland EMC and $1,000 from the Ocracoke Athletic Booster Club.
Dalton Kalna, who will attend Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, Colo., received the Presidential Merit Scholarship of $40,000, or $10,000 per year.
He also received the Ellen Holiday scholarship of $1,500 from Wells Fargo Bank; $500 from the Ocracoke Civic and Business Association; and $250 from Ocracoke Community Radio WOVV 90.1 FM.
Caroline Temple received a grant of $29,840 or the first year from Warren Wilson College, where she will attend, $1,000 from the Ocracoke Invitational Surf Fishing Tournament and $1,350 in memory of Charlotte Castro.
Arianna Trejo Contreras, the first person in her family to attend college, received the Greg and Eden Honeycutt Scholarship of $3,000, the Beveridge and Mayo Scholarship of $500 and the Ocracoke Assembly of God Founders Scholarship of $500.
She will attend Pitt Community College in Greenville majoring in biology with the first goal of becoming a pediatric physician’s assistant.
Kevin Perez received a $1,500 athletic scholarship in memory of Anna and Edward Fryer of and $500 from both the PTA and Ocracoke Island Realty. He will study filmmaking at Southern Maine Community College, Portland, Maine.
Graduates Brandon Ellis O’Neal and Aldo Serrano Resendiz did not receive scholarships since they are not immediately pursuing higher education.
Jordan Novak will be the school’s first fifth year/super senior/early college student and will receive her diploma at the end of 2017.
Local musician Marcy Brenner gave the commencement address and spoke personally about each graduate.
“Our lighthouse is a metaphor, for all of us will be here for you to come back,” she said. “When you go out into the world, you bring the lighthouse with you to shine your light. We’re your safe harbor. Know that always.”
The class honored Karen Lovejoy with its Community Service Award.
McKnight said the school is always accepting new scholarship gifts.
“Next year, the school will have 16 graduates, many who will be pursuing college,” she said.
Some scholarships are already in place that people can donate to anonymously, or they can give one in the name of their business.
The Outer Banks Community Foundation also can help set up an endowment.
For details, contact McKnight at firstname.lastname@example.org.