HEF hosts Breakfast of Champions for students and teachers

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HEF hosts Breakfast of Champions for students and teachers

Guillermo Lopez receives the Greg Memorial scholarship grant while attending the Breakfast of Champions.

Guillermo Lopez receives the Greg Memorial scholarship grant while attending the Breakfast of Champions.

Caleb Goss

Guillermo Lopez receives the Greg Memorial scholarship grant while attending the Breakfast of Champions.

Caleb Goss

Caleb Goss

Guillermo Lopez receives the Greg Memorial scholarship grant while attending the Breakfast of Champions.

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White table cloths, crystal glasses and classy chandeliers decorate the room as students and teachers gather at JMU’s Festival Center for the Breakfast of Champions. This event celebrates the students and teachers of Harrisonburg City Public Schools.

One of the students who was awarded was Senior Guillermo Lopez. Winning the Greg Kuykendall Memorial scholarship, Lopez (like many of his peers) were awarded scholarships that they had applied for. Feeling celebrated and accomplished, Lopez feels encouraged and motivated to move forward.

“It honestly feels amazing. The college process and applying to scholarships is very stressful. Obviously you apply hoping that you’ll get as many as you can, but it’s stressful because you don’t receive a response until later on and that just builds on to the tension and stress. Being able to be here with my family supporting me and taking pictures of me means a lot to me as well as the Greg Memorial Scholarship. It encouraged me to keep moving forward in college and finish strong in high school,” Lopez said.

Not only has this event made Lopez feel motivated, but also special as he’s surrounded by friends and family.

“It makes me feel really special, it makes me feel honored and obviously your motivation, your drive shouldn’t be this but it’s just rewarding for everything that I’ve done in four years so it felt amazing. The people are very friendly and every single one of them welcomed me and congratulated me so it feels amazing. It’s an amazing opportunity,” Lopez said.

Along with students, teachers are awarded for their hard work throughout the year. Electing a teacher of the year from each school, previous drama/theatre teacher Stanley Swartz was awarded retired teacher of the year. Receiving a speech from co-worker and Choir teacher Bethany Houff, Swartz was honored for his successful and contributive career.

“[The Breakfast of Champions has] made me feel great. It’s always nice to feel respected and honored and Ms. Houff gave a fabulous speech. It makes me feel happy and sad and proud all at once. In some ways I’m glad all that work is over, but I’m also grateful for the people like Ms. Houff that I was able to work with that helped make it all come together.”

Taking a lot of thought and preparation, the Breakfast of Champions is hosted by the Harrisonburg Education Foundation. One of the people behind the scenes organiqzing this annual event is Dawn Wine Ruple, a chair of the event. Collecting video footage and finding the location are just two things Wine Ruple and her co-workers have to consider when planning the event.

“The planning started in about October and then Dr. Andrew Ansoorian asked the schools to let us know by March fifth who each schools teacher of the year is. There’s a lot of organization that goes on like reserving the location, paying for the location.

Another process that comes with planning the event is choosing the applicants who will be awarded with the scholarship. Grants and scholars co-chair William Collier is one of the key members in deciding who is granted the scholarship. When comparing the applicants, Collier looks at the extracurriculars and essay portions of the application.

“I think it’s great to get involved early in at least one activity and ease your way in and focus on your academics. Then as you get comfortable in school, to expand and to perhaps try some new things. We look a lot at the diversity. We had people who were in the band as well as other things or in athletics as well as other things and so if they could just do a great job of serving the community that will give them a leg up,” Collier said.

Not only does Collier advise doing extracurriculars, he also advises to take your first year slow and take on more roles overtime.

“I think it’s great to get involved early in at least one activity and ease your way in and focus on your academics. Then as you get comfortable in school, to expand and to perhaps try some new things. We look a lot at the diversity. We had people who were in the band as well as other things or in athletics as well as other things and so if they could just do a great job of serving the community that will give them a leg up,” Collier.

Like Collier, Lopez believes that focusing on your academics is an important part of high school. Lopez advises students who are looking to apply to just do it, as college is your priority.

“Apply to everything and to every single scholarship. It takes a little bit of time and dedication, but at the same time it is very rewarding. Many times you’re going to have to decide what to do. You have school stuff and then you have work, but your priority is college so apply to everything,” Lopez said.

 

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