For approximately 20 years, the Alumni Association (PAA) has been awarding grants for up to $250.00 per student to help fulfill dreams, often academic, artistic and athletically-based. During the 2011-12 school year, the PAA awarded $19,194 in 222 monetary grants, and granted an additional 16 resource grants. The resource grants were requests to shadow or work as an assistant in a field that interests or inspires them. The resources are drawn from 8 funds, including 7 Memorial Funds, created by surviving family members and friends who want to celebrate the legacy left by their former Parkway loved one.
Five students at Parkway South Middle were among the 238 students awarded grants through the Parkway Alumni Association's "Granting Dreams" program during the 2011-12 school year.
Adriana Beale, now an 8th grader, was granted $250 for her "Dream for a Normal Life". Adriana has a condition known as alopecia, which is an auto-immune disorder that causes a person to lose their hair. In addition to losing hair on their scalp, they can lose eyebrows, eyelashes, and other body hair. While sometimes temporary, it is often a life-long hair loss.
Adriana's grant will go toward the cost of a custom-made wig, which can cost up to $6,000. An added challenge is that she is allergic to many of the tapes used to secure the hair piece. While Adriana addressed her classmates in sixth grade when she entered her new school to explain that her hair loss is due to alopecia and not cancer, it is obvious that Adriana will not allow her baldness to affect her day-to-day living.
She has been playing the violin for four years, and is a Level 5 gymnast. She also has been on the Manchester Sting Rays water polo team and dances with the Kirkwood Dance Center. Adriana's motto to live by is, "Even if you fall on your face, keep moving forward." One day, she hopes to become a counselor to help other kids learning to live with alopecia.
Maleah Fallahi was awarded $100 for her "Improving Your Net Worth" grant request. Maleah is an volleyball enthusiast and will use the grant for camp. She was on the Ace Xtreme select team before being selected for the Parkway Lightning Volleyball Club, where she has played for the last 3 years. Maleah hopes to earn a college scholarship in the sport, where she specialises as an outside hitter and spiker. Maleah also enjoys playing basketball.
Maleah adds, "It doesn't matter how you look, what you wear. It's about giving the best while you are on the court."
Seventh grader Samantha Jaros also received a $250 grant to attend a two week summer camp at Camp Lakewood. After attending the camp during the Parkway sanctioned Outdoor School this last school year, Samantha applied for the grant.
Samantha spent a lot of time with her dad before his death late last year. He was her inspiration and encouraged her to pursue her interests in sports. At camp, she will play volleyball, her favorite sport, and also participate in archery, swimming and arts & crafts. She looks forward to meeting new friends and spending the week of her birthday at camp.
Samantha hopes to also become a camp counselor one day. Samantha added , "My mom was a camp counselor. She has been a role model for me in following after your dreams."
Samantha's mom is battling a second bout of cancer and Samantha draws a lot of strength from her former elementary counselor at Barretts Elementary, Ms. Kelly Crupper. Ms. Crupper says "Sam is someone who is very resilient and smart and tries so hard, against all odds. She hasn't given up. She's a fighter."
Adam Krueger, also a 7th grader at South Middle, received a $100 grant toward a "Men's Gymnastic Mushroom". Adam is a Level 5 gymnast and has been competing in unsanctioned meets for two years around the Greater St. Louis Area. Accompanying his written grant proposal were photos of gymnastics mushrooms, which can cost anywhere from $300 to $400. He correctly assumed that the Alumni Association would not know what a mushroom was.
"I compete in 6 events: floor, high bar, rings, vault, parallel bars and pommel horse/mushroom. Together, the pommel horse and the mushroom combine one score." Excelling at rings and high bar, Adam struggles the most with the mushroom. He adds, "I have to go around the mushroom 5 1/2 times using only my upper body strength, without touching the floor. I don't get enough time during the 6-8 hours I train each week at the gym to master the mushroom. Having a mushroom at home will give me that extra practice I need."
During the 2011 meets, Adam placed 2nd overall for his age and level in championships. This year, championships were held at the end of March and he placed 5th for his age and level. "It was my pommel horse/mushroom score that really brought my all-around score down. I was a little disappointed in my overall performance. I hope to do better for next year's competitions. My mushroom will help me achieve it."
The final student to receive a grant is 8th grader, Branden Speckman. He received a $125 grant to help pay for his participation in the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, Civil Air Patrol. Beginning this past spring, Branden attends meetings for 2 hours once per week and one Saturday a month. This program, designed for teenagers, helps prepare young men and women for future military training. Branden will learn to fly helicopter and planes, while also learning leadership skills and demanding physical training. In addition to flight training, Cadets can learn about survival training, photography, and astronomy, while being held to a high moral standard.
Over the summer, Branden has additional opportunities in leadership building, career academies and service projects. This is a national program with various squads around the Greater St. Louis area and throughout the United States.
With the help of the donations from the Parkway Alumni Association, these five students are one step closer to making their dreams a reality.