The Crowd: Brightest of the future honored

The residents of Newport-Mesa take great pride in many aspects of life in their community. Perhaps most important of all are the strong family values reflected in the vitality of the public school system and the close relationship between parents, teachers, administrators and the students.

June is a very special month as children who have come up the ranks from preschool to middle school to high school graduation share in important life-altering moments that to some degree will determine their destiny and future path.

Last week in Newport Beach in a bay front dining room on the top floor of the Balboa Bay Resort, students, teachers and their families attended a reception honoring the scholastic, athletic and personal achievements of some of the region's best and brightest young people.

It was the annual presentation of the "1221 College Scholarship Awards" granted to outstanding young men and women who have demonstrated a consistent and exemplary personal record as they transition from local high schools and follow their college goals. It is important to note that the awards granted are among the most substantial and generous given to students in this community.

More than $100,000 in grants were presented, bringing the sum of the 1221 scholarships over the past 15 years to more than $1.5 million.

The scholarship awards were created by a ladies auxiliary associated with the Balboa Bay Club as a avenue to give back to the community. The women's social network took its name from the street address of the iconic facility on the Coast Highway. They were joined by the Balboa Bay Club's men's network and together significant funds are raised on an annual basis from a variety of events that provide the money for the scholarship awards.

In the past year, the ownership of the Balboa Bay Club has transitioned into the hands of the Richard Pickup family of Newport Beach. Family members, led by Carole Pickup, who serves as president of the 1221 Club, along with daughter Devon Martin and daughter-in-law Natalie Pickup, are pushing the envelope forward with support from a significant contingent of community donors and sponsors in an effort to create an endowment fund that will sustain the 1221 Scholarship Awards for years to come.

Financial support from Richard Pickup, son Todd Pickup and son-in-law Kevin Martin, further demonstrates a commitment to the long-standing family values and support of education that elevates the standard of living in the community of Newport-Mesa.

It was an emotional evening to say the least. The full house applauded enthusiastically and many held back a tear as students were granted their awards and shared with the crowd both their appreciation and their dreams for their future.

Many people whispered a unified sentiment, that these young people give tremendous hope for the future of America. Of course, it has always been thus. Graduation is nothing if not a time of joy and promise. The accomplishments of the 1221 recipients were far above and beyond the ordinary.

The six finalists receiving the awards included Ryon Sabouni of Corona del Mar High School, accepting a $7,000 scholarship, and Shannon Griffin, also of Corona del Mar High, receiving a $7,000 scholarship.

Two students from Costa Mesa High School, Maria Diaz and Quan Nguyen both were granted $20,000 scholarships. And from Newport Harbor High School, Dan Stevens and Kelsey Christensen also received $20,000 scholarships.

In addition, 10 students from the Newport Mesa School District received runner up awards of $1,000 each. Award winners were Emily Turner, Ryan Griffin, Alyssa Dasca, Eduardo Hernandez, Cesar Dominguez, Gianna Jason, Matthew Thomas, Serena Kao, Benjamin Shaoulian and Dana Siegel.

Presenting the scholarship awards were Balboa Bay Club chairman of the board of governors John Wortmann, joining fellow governors and community philanthropists Catherine Thyen and Noel Hamilton. In the crowd supporting the 1221 cause were Jim and Janet Gianulias, Noralee Paulson, Gini Savage, Donna Anderson and Ron Willut, Madeline Zuckerman, Ron and Nancy D'Cruz, Mary Roosevelt, Gini and Bob Robins, and Kathy Hamilton.

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

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