Submitted by Assistance League of Bellingham

In 2023 Assistance League of Bellingham was pleased to award a total of $44,000 in Summer Enrichment Scholarships to 77 Whatcom County students grades 6 through 11. They were able to participate in a variety of wonderful opportunities in areas such as art, music, technology, leadership, drama, science, and more.

Five recipients shared a few thoughts on their experiences:

Haley Ramirez, currently a sophomore at Nooksack Valley High School, received a $650 scholarship to attend the Blaine Harbor Music Festival last summer.

Although she has been playing the saxophone for about four years, this was Haley’s first opportunity to attend a summer camp. Her music teacher suggested she apply for the scholarship.

She knew four other people attending from her school and also made new friends among the other young musicians participating.

Haley said she learned a lot, taking several classes including songwriting, music composition, and performance. She was impressed with the faculty, all super-talented musicians, who put on free concerts every night. One, Jovino Santos Neto, is a three-time Latin Grammy award winner!

A variety of ages attended the camp, from middle school up to about 20 years old. A student showcase was held at the end of the week where attendees performed for each other and guests.

Haley would highly recommend anyone interested in music to participate in the Blaine Harbor Music Festival and said it was a great experience; definitely a highlight of her summer.

She was so thankful that Assistance League of Bellingham made it possible for her to attend.

Ben Lann, a Squalicum High School senior, was awarded a $900 scholarship to attend the flight school at Bellingham Aviation Service.

Ben’s grandfather — who had been in the Air Force but did not have the opportunity to fly himself — passed on his love of planes to his grandson. Ben’s grandpa was a role model and inspired Ben to pursue aviation by taking him to airports to watch the planes take off and land. This fueled Ben’s desire to one day pursue a career as a pilot.

So, when this enticing but expensive opportunity arose, he applied for an Assistance League Enrichment Scholarship.

The experience included two parts. One was the ground school, which was basically a classroom instructional setting, where he learned the basics of weather and the knowledge needed to pass the FAA Knowledge Test. The other was actual in-flight training with an instructor in a Cessna 172 Skyhawk.

These sessions departed from the Bellingham airport and lasted anywhere from 1 to 3 hours. 40 hours of flight would be required to prepare for his “check ride.” The process is similar to the written and driving part of getting your driver’s license.

Ben has applied to Stanford University, hoping to major in astronautical and aeronautical engineering.

He is grateful to the Assistance League for providing him with the opportunity to enroll in the flight school, where he could develop the skills and critical thinking necessary to realize his lifelong dream of a career in flying.

Max Juszynski, a senior at Bellingham High School, was a recipient of a $900 scholarship to attend a two-week Gonzaga Debate Camp.

Max has participated in school debates at the state and local level for two years. Attending the Gonzaga camp was suggested by his coach as a way to improve his skills in a short period of time.

While attending, Max had the opportunity to learn from some of the top debate instructors in the country, plus meet many young people also interested in debate. He felt those two weeks greatly improved his critical thinking and research skills.

A debate tournament was held as one of the culminating camp activities, in which teams of two participated in policy debates. As a result of this experience Max now feels better prepared to participate in state and local tournaments.

He is applying to the University of Washington next fall and hopes to pursue a career in political science — either teaching or perhaps working on a campaign.

He really appreciated the great learning opportunity provided by the Assistance League Scholarship.

Paria Kinsman, a Sehome High School sophomore, received a $900 scholarship to attend a Business Week seminar held at the University of Puget Sound.

Her mother found information about ALB’s scholarship program on the school’s website and suggested Paria might enjoy it. She was right.

Several instructors of various ages and areas of expertise, plus interns, helped with the program. Paria learned about different aspects of business including marketing, sales, decision-making, profitability, and environmental and political impacts.

Attendees were divided into teams with each developing a potential business idea based on information they had learned. At the end of the week each group made a presentation before three or more judges who evaluated the potential success of their business idea.

In addition to giving verbal feedback, the judges invested varying amounts of monopoly money with those they thought would be the most successful. The teams and their business ideas were then ranked by the amount of “money” invested in their potential business ideas.

Paria found the workshop a really worthwhile experience, since she is interested in starting a small jewelry business, perhaps on Etsy. It was a great opportunity to meet many other people with similar interests and Paria has kept in touch with someone she met from Poland.

Keely Frazier, currently a senior at Bellingham High School, was a recipient of a $795 scholarship from Assistance League to pursue her dance training by participating in a summer dance intensive.

Dancing can be a very expensive sport and she was extremely grateful for the financial assistance provided.

Keely trains throughout the year at local studio Dancing for Joy and is currently on their dance company and on the principal team with the company.

One- and two-week summer intensive programs were offered, and she opted for the two-week course. Dancing for Joy’s intensive structure began each day with a Pilates and conditioning class, followed by a ballet session. After lunch three different style of classes were offered such as contemporary, variations, jazz, etc.

Keely loved the structure because each day started with a base of technique, and then additional areas of dance were explored in the afternoon.

One of her favorite classes was a choreography class by Alexander Miller. They were led through exercises and techniques that helped them create interesting choreography of their own. Keely had often danced to choreography provided by others, but found it especially rewarding to work on and perform a piece she choreographed herself.

At the end of each week a piece was presented that encapsulated what had been learned.

Keely said it was a truly amazing experience, and she found Dancing for Joy to be a very welcoming and supporting environment, a great place to learn and grow. She praised the instructors not only for being very knowledgeable in a variety of different styles, but for obviously caring about each dancer, wanting to help them further their growth as a dancer and a person.

Enrichment Scholarship opportunities are available again this year through Assistance League Bellingham. Students can access the application information on our website at assistanceleaguebellingham.org or through their school counselors. All applications must be received no later than February 16, 2024.

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