Kiwanis Club Awards Junior Builders Cup Scholarships to Four
Four “outstanding and exceptional” Moore County graduating seniors received a financial boost Wednesday when the Kiwanis Club of the Sandhills honored them with college scholarships.
Nominees Melissa Johnson, of Union Pines, Auden Laurence, from Pinecrest, North Moore student Nick Renzi, and Meagan Watkins, of The O’Neal School, gathered at the National Golf Club in Pinehurst for the annual Kiwanis Junior Builders Cup Awards Day presentation. All four received scholarships for $1,000 to be used for school expenses, with one selected to receive the Junior Cup. This award brought the recipient an additional $2,500 based on his or her achievements.
“Each year we ask each high school in the county to nominate one student for the Junior Builders Cup,” said organization chairman Mike Thomas. “Our criteria for selection includes academic excellence plus excelling in other areas in and outside of school. We believe that the nominees, based upon this criteria, represent some of the most outstanding graduating high school seniors in Moore County.”
The students, all of whom finished either first or second in their respective schools, were joined by family members and faculty supporters who had assisted the students in their quest for academic achievement.
The students were introduced to the audience by Kiwanis members, each of whom related the student’s academic and social attributes to the audience.
Kiwanis member and Moore County Schools’ Executive Director of Human Resources Anita Alpenfels introduced Johnson.
“Many people view life through one of two lenses, obstacle or opportunity,” Alpenfels said. “(Melissa) is very selective about her lens. To her, it’s all about opportunity.
“A senior with a weighted GPA of 4.72, Melissa was nominated for the North Carolina Governor’s School in four subjects, mathematics, instrumental music, social science and natural science. A proud alto saxophone player for the Marching Vikings, Melissa has served as band vice-president and as a section leader.”
Honored in February by the Moore County Board of Education with its Growing to Greatness Award, Johnson has participated in mission trips to New Orleans, Chicago and Philadelphia through First Baptist Church in Southern Pines.
“Service to others plants a seed in those you are helping and in time ... they pass it on and the cycle continues,” Alpenfels said.
Johnson said she believes she is “meant to be cognizant of the world around me as well as make a difference in the lives of those I meet.”
Kiwanis Club member Blanche Hancock praised Watkins.
“Meagan is amazing,” said Hancock, a counselor at The O’Neal School, who was present at the event. “Her goodness, drive and fabulous attitude are some of her best attributes, and she never seems to get emotionally ‘down.’ She’s a great student.”
Susan Holmes, of the Kiwanis Club, related Watkins’ achievements.
“Meagan, who will attend Columbia University in the fall, has received the Headmaster’s Achievement Award for the highest GPA in 10th and 11th grade, she has been the recipient of the Amelia Cagle Underclassman Award, which is voted on by the students for a student that embodies leadership and excellent character, and she has received the Nuzzo Scholar Award for all four years of her time at O’Neal. This is a full tuition scholarship to The O’Neal School.”
Watkins said that her future goals include “medical school in North Carolina, working toward becoming a research scientist and physician. I chose this career because of the genes in my family; we are Lumbee Indians and are thus prone to heart disease. I would like to invent some type of nanobot or chemical that would be able to destroy plaque buildup in the arteries.”
Kiwanis member Scott Dawson introduced Renzi.
“Nick is an outstanding student whose honors and achievements include a school and county nominee for the North Carolina Governor’s School, for the UNC-Chapel Hill’s Morehead-Cain Scholarship, and the North Carolina State’s Park Scholarship,” he said. “He is currently a Nation Merit Corporate Scholarship semifinalist and hopefully finalist, and he is the only student to have achieved the AP Scholar with Honor Award from North Moore High School.”
Renzi, who is currently the unofficial valedictorian at his school pending a final review, thanked his teachers and family for their assistance.
“I am extremely honored to be chosen as the representative from North Moore,” he said. “My parents deserve recognition and gratitude for helping me all these years. I’m so glad to have the opportunity to be here, and have enjoyed the company of a lot of great people throughout the year.”
The fourth student to be recognized was Laurence, who was introduced by Kiwanis member David Bruton.
“Auden, who will attend Harvard University this year, is planning to get a Ph.D. and wants to become the chief global strategist for a company committed to selling fair trade products (that have) a minimal negative impact on the environment and on the culture it penetrates,” he said. “How many of y’all think that deep?” he added to laughter from the audience.
Bruton named more of Laurence’s achievements, including high SAT scores and exceptional quality points. He said that Laurence’s interview with the Kiwanis Junior Builders Cup committee was “off the chart.”
“She dealt with my U.S. sovereign debt crisis question with a maturity and insight clearly at the Ph.D. economist level,” Bruton said. “We can only hope that our national leaders would achieve Auden’s level of understanding.”
In her application Laurence said that she is “fascinated with the growing interconnectedness between people of he world due to globalization.
“(A career in this field) will give me the opportunity to fulfill my commitment to human service on the world stage.”
After the four students were introduced, Dawson again approached the podium to announce the annual Kiwanis Junior Builders Cup winner.
“Auden Laurence,” he said. Kiwanis members and school officials all gave Laurence a standing ovation for her achievement.
“Auden has worked harder than any human being I know,” said Linda Laurence, Auden’s mother. Regarding her sense of social consciousness, Laurence said her daughter “was born in Greenwich, Conn., in an affluent community” before the family moved south.
“I think our relocation to a more heterogenous society has made her more conscious of those issues.”
School Superintendent Aaron Spence, who was present at the event, praised the Kiwanis Club for honoring the students through the scholarship.
“I’ve heard about this wonderful event since I first got here,” Spence said, “and the great work that the Kiwanis do.”
Club president Jim Lewis thanked all for their participation. “It is so impressive and refreshing to see young people doing so much,” he said.
“We couldn’t be more proud of you.”
Contact John Lentz at (910) 693-2479 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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