The Crowd: '1221' College Scholarships awarded to Newport-Mesa students

The future of America was celebrated at a recent reception honoring outstanding high school seniors from the Newport-Mesa Unified School District.

The 2012 Balboa Bay Club & Resort's "1221" College Scholarships were awarded to an exceptional group of young people with big dreams and even bigger potential to succeed and make an enormous difference in people's lives.

For the past two decades, the Balboa Bay Club has awarded college grants to students recommended by their high school teachers, counselors and principals. A scholarship committee led by former Newport-Mesa Unified Supt. Norman Loats, John Wortmann, chairman of the club's Board of Governors, and Governors Catherine Thyen and Noel Hamilton, has the difficult task of interviewing the prospective scholarship candidates and selecting the winners.

"This process is among the most rewarding endeavors that I am involved with each and every year," Wortmann commented. "It is also extremely difficult to select winners when all of the candidates are so impressive."

With the finalists presenting résumés featuring community service, school leadership, athletic accomplishment, near perfect to perfect SAT scores, and grade-point averages as high as 4.65, the winners were selected, lauded and presented unrestricted grants totaling $100,000 in front of an enthusiastic crowd.

The "2012" winners of the $1,000 grants are Kerlly Castellano from Costa Mesa High School, Dylan Ulrich from Estancia High School, Leah Woodside from Estancia High, Mandy Nguyen from Costa Mesa High School and Sharon Shaoulian from Newport Harbor High School.

Receiving the $7,500 grants are Christina Brown from Estancia and Matthew Morgan from Costa Mesa High. The two students awarded the $20,000 scholarships are Ariana Naaseh from Corona del Mar High School and Andrew Mather from Newport Harbor.

In addition, the Balboa Bay Club was proud to present two additional $20,000 scholarships to student-athletes on behalf of the generous support of Ramona Smith and the extended Smith family. The grants are named in memory of their father, the late E. Morris Smith, a founding member of the Balboa Bay Club and former governor.

The two student-athletes are Allyson Brahs and Brent Lawson, both from CdM High. Lawson stepped up to the microphone in his navy blue blazer, rep tie and saddle shoes sharing with the audience that he will be attending Yale University in the fall and playing baseball for that Ivy League squad.

The diverse scholars representing families of different socioeconomic as well as ethnic backgrounds all thanked their benefactors. Their common thread was being a spirit of optimism and commitment to make a difference in the future of this nation, given the opportunity to attend a university, and to pursue personal goals in a free and just society.

It was a message not lost on the crowd of men and women who came together raising funds through social activities associated with a woman's group known as the 1221 Club and various men's charitable endeavors.

These included the annual Balboa Bay Club Gentleman's Smoker and Lobster Clambake on the beach, which traditionally takes place in July and raises upward of $50,000 from a live auction with proceeds earmarked for the scholarship fund.

Donors in the crowd applauding the presentation included Donna Anderson, Myrna Blalock, Patricia Gehl, Loretta Haugen, Donna Brantman, Terry Kerley, Virginia and Bob Robins, Mary Roosevelt, and Marilyn and Dave Wooten. Also front and center for the awards were Anne and Devon Wortmann, Virginia Savage, Carla Wyffels, Carolyn Olsen, Jaclyn Kessler, Anita Lawson, Steven Mather and Kathy Hamilton.

The scholarship reception also occurred on the evening of ownership transition of the Balboa Bay Club. The former chairwoman of the iconic property for the past 41 years, Beverly Ray Parkhurst, was on hand with husband Arlis Parkhurst to welcome the new stewards of the Balboa Bay Club.

Members of the Richard H. Pickup family, representing Eagle Four Partners and Pacific Hospitality Group LLC, the parent company of the Balboa Bay Club and the Newport Beach County Club, were in attendance.

Parkhurst welcomed Mrs. Carol Pickup — who shared that she was a former schoolteacher — her daughter, Devon Martin, and her daughter-in-law, Natalie Pickup.

"You wonderful women will now assume the title I am passing on to you as the new owners of the club," Parkhurst said. "You are now officially the 'Queens of Coast Highway,' and I know that you and the Pickup family will carry on the BBC tradition with great success for years to come."

THE CROWD runs Thursdays and Saturdays. B.W. Cook is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.

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