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Oliver McNeil and his mother Pollyanne McNeil with Adrew Keller and his parents Tina and Paul Keller
Oliver McNeil and his mother Pollyanne McNeil with Adrew Keller and his parents Tina and Paul Keller

New Buffalo High School scholar graduates and their parents were honored by the New Buffalo Service League at their annual awards banquet Wednesday, May 10.

Six graduates received scholarships, going-away-to-college gift baskets and other goodies at the dinner held at the New Buffalo Yacht Club. The laundry basket filled with gifts included a handmade laundry bag that was made in students’ respective college colors by member Joan Putzke. Member Liz Retting also presented each student with a handcrafted scrapbook for their memories.

The Service League Scholarship Committee selects the recipients based on the following criteria: academic performance, extracurricular activities, community involvement, teacher recommendations, family need and an essay submitted by each applicant.

High school principal Craig Stafford opened his remarks with a thank you to Service League members “for everything you do for the kids, the community and students.” He also thanked the parents and guardians of the students for their support and dedication.

“I am very proud of their accomplishments, they are all leaders and they are some of the strongest and brightest students I’ve seen. They will represent New Buffalo well,” he said of the graduates.

Stafford’s advice to the college bound students included a quote from Abraham Lincoln: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

“You are all a big part of our herd – go Bison,” he said.

New Buffalo Area Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Leslie thanked the graduates for their hard work, saying they are “now realizing the fruits of your efforts.” He also praised the parents.

“You have raised phenomenal kids… our future will be just fine,” he said.

Leslie stated that all of the scholars possessed great leadership skills in their various areas of interest: athletics, the Academic Challenge Team, the Band and Envirothon. He said he looked forward to seeing their future accomplishments.

For the past 55 years, the New Buffalo Service League has awarded a scholarship in memory of Mary Ann Frey, the valedictorian of the class of 1962 who was sadly killed in a car accidents three weeks before graduation. The scholarship began as a $100 award; however, it has grown over time to $1,500.

Additionally, $1,000 scholarships have been added over the years. The number of recipients varies based on the success of the organization’s yearly fundraising events.

Honored with the $1,500 Mary Frey Scholarship was Oliver McNeil, the son of Patrick and Pollyanna McNeil. He will attend University of California Berkeley, where he will pursue a double major in Computer Science and Spanish. Oliver and recipient Andrew Keller are the co-presidents of the NBHS class of 2017.
The following students received a $1,000 scholarship: Samantha Hatfield, Andrew Keller, Kirsten Kozel, Alyssa Mulligan and Maeve Smith.

Samantha is the daughter of Don and Bobbi Hatfield. She will attend the University of Tennessee and major in Veterinary Medicine. Andrew, who is the son of Paul and Tina Keller, will attend Michigan State University. Following in his parents’ footsteps, he will major in Education. Kirsten will attend Western Michigan University with a goal of obtaining a double major in Japanese and Video Production. She is the daughter of Anthony Kozel and Lori Schlundt-Petersen, who was the recipient of the Mary Ann Fry Scholarship in 1992. Alyssa will attend Trinity Christian College and major in Exercise Science (Physical Therapy) and she will also play basketball. Her parents are Brian and Susan Mulligan. Maeve, who is the daughter of Donald Smith and Mary Blochberger, will attend Ferris State University and major in Dental Hygiene.

Each of the recipients thanked their parents and teachers and the Service League for their scholarships. They all stated that the award would help them obtain their dreams.

Scholarship Chair Irene Brinkman thanked the parents and the school staff for all they do to mentor the students. She stated that the selection process was a very difficult one, as there were many accomplished and deserving students who applied for a scholarship. She said that the Service League would have liked to award every student who applied for a scholarship with one.

The New Buffalo Service League’s major fundraising event is the annual Arts and Craft Show, which will be held this year Saturday, Oct. 21, at the high school.