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As a foundation started and headquartered in Muscatine, the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust has always had a deep relationship with the community. Since the early 1990’s the group has presented Excellence in Education Awards to deserving middle school and high school students, staff members, and teachers. This year, thirty members of the Muscatine Community School District (MCSD) received Excellence in Education Awards. These prizes will allow them to pursue higher education and enrich MCSD.
According to Chris Nienhaus, Co-Principal of West Middle School and selection committee member, anyone in the community may nominate any eight grader, senior, support staff member, or teacher they think deserves an award. Then, selection committees meet to select five Central Middle School eighth graders, five West Middle School eighth graders, twenty Muscatine High School Seniors, three support staff members, and three teachers. Once the committees selected this year’s recipients, they announced and honored them at a ceremony at Muscatine High School on April 27th.
This year’s recipients included the following:
Central Middle School Eighth Graders:
Kossi Akakpo
Owen Booth
Jaley Burke
Maggie Halloran
Elizabeth Payne
West Middle School Eighth Graders:
Rylan Hazen
Taya Melendez
Shelby O’Brien
Cor’Jon Palmer
Brenden Steele
Muscatine High School Seniors:
Kailynn Avis
Kamryn Avis
Karissa Burton
Tatiana Carrasquillo
Kaitlyn Cawizell
Jaqueline Cruz
Ezekiel Ellis
Brittany Georgi
Anahi Gonzalez
Jenyka Graves
Alley Gray
Alexandria Jimenez
Kaitlyn Lathrop
Jose Martinez III
Shane Mathias
Diamond McGee
Julia Moravac
Stephanie Orellana
Mateo Rangel
Sydney Weggen
MCSD Support Staff Members:
Sandra Riley, Franklin Elementary School
Belen Marquez, Muscatine High School
Kris Meeker, Muscatine High School
Teachers:
Vickie Meerdink, Mulberry Elementary School
Andrew LeClere, West Middle School
Liz Panther, West Middle School
Along with gaining recognition, each Excellence in Education Award winner received a scholarship. Middle school students got $1,000 and high school students got $5,000 to put towards post-secondary education. Staff members and teachers received $500 a piece to put towards any educational project in the district they wish to support. Nienhaus shared that from personal experience, he knows just how much these scholarships will benefit students especially. He elaborated, “I actually got the award [while in school]. I know what it did for me. It helped propel my education and pay for my college. Like many of the students, it helped me when my family couldn’t necessarily afford it.”
Over the years, the Roy J. Carver Charitable trust has given out more than $2 million in Excellence in Education Awards. Nienhaus finds that the foundation’s strong connection with Muscatine has truly benefited its students for nearly thirty years. “With the Carver family from Muscatine and the Trust in Muscatine, the community support we get from them is unparalleled.” With so much support for local students this year, one can easily see how the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust’s Excellence in Education Awards can truly change the lives of Muscatine’s young adults and educators. Additionally, Nienhaus expressed thanks to Muscatine High School’s Mark Groteluschen for coordinating this year’s awards.
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