By Rob Potter
SULLIVAN COUNTY Five recent graduates from Sullivan County high schools have received help with their college expenses from the Sullivan Striders Running and Walking Club.
At their regular monthly meeting on Thursday evening at Vino in Monticello, the Sullivan Striders presented scholarships to those five local graduates.
Tom Manza, who is one of the members of the Sullivan Striders Scholarship Committee, said that the money used to award the scholarships comes from the proceeds raised at the Falling Colors 8K Run/5K Walk which the Striders hold on the first Saturday in November in Rock Hill.
“We really appreciate everybody being here tonight,” Manza said.
Tom Manza and his wife, Maryann Manza, who is the Chairperson of the Sullivan Striders Scholarship Committee, explained that many factors go into selecting the scholarship recipients. The committee members look at each applicant’s running career, academic record and community service. In addition, all of the applicants write essays and the committee members speak with the applicant’s teachers, coaches and guidance counselors.
“We had nine or 10 applicants this year,” Maryann Manza said. “We like to select four or five kids to receive the scholarships, that way more kids get the money.”
This year, the Sullivan Striders awarded a total of $3,500 in scholarships. The two top winners were Kyle F. Flynn and Jessica Dunnigan. Flynn, a Sullivan West Central School graduate, and Dunnigan, a Liberty Central School graduate, each received $1,000.
The other scholarship recipients were Rianne Erlwein, Russell Amore and Erika Vorstadt. Erlwein is a Sullivan West Central School graduate, while Amore and Vorstadt are both graduates of Eldred Central School.
The three scholarship winners who were in attendance at Thursday night’s meeting Dunnigan, Flynn and Vorstadt were asked to tell everyone a little bit about themselves.
Unfortunately, Amore and Erlwein were unable to attend the event.
Dunnigan noted that she was the Salutatorian of her class and won the 200-meter state championship this year and last year. In addition, Dunnigan finished second in the 100-meter dash at this year’s state meet and competed in the long jump at the meet.
Dunnigan will be attending Northeastern University in Boston and running for the university’s women’s track and field team. She will be attending the university’s School of Business.
Flynn was the division champion in the 300-meter run. He was also named the Sullivan West Most Valuable Track Athlete for 2011 and was one of the nominees for the Sullivan West Male Select Senior Athlete.
Flynn will attend SUNY Brockport, where he will major in Criminal Justice and join the Air Force ROTC.
Vorstadt noted that she will attend SUNY Oneonta this fall and major in Education. While at Eldred, she was a member of Lady Yellowjackets’ varsity cross country and track teams for six years from seventh grade to 12th grade.
She helped the Lady Yellowjackets’ outdoor track and field team win the Section IX Class D championship in four of those seasons.
“You all did an outstanding job,” Maryann Manza said to the scholarship recipients and their family members.
In addition to Maryann Manza and Tom Manza, the Scholarship Committee members included John Flynn, Kim Flynn, Harold Johnson, Dennis Toscano, Abby Billias, Kim Klemen and Delia Cerisano.
“Let’s give a big shout out to Maryann Manza for doing a great job leading the Scholarship Committee,” Klemen said.
Klemen and her fellow committee members then gave Manza a well-deserved round of applause.