Dollars for Scholars ceremony uplifts recipients

Community tradition awards graduating seniors


Grace Farley

Assistant Principle Jessica Busse hands senior Natalie Aune her academic award during the academic awards ceremony.

Emma Yarger

This year over 100 seniors received scholarships to fund their futures from over 200 financial contributors at the Dollars for Scholars ceremony, according to counselor and Dollars for Scholars event organizer Barb Nelson.

Praise for students’ achievement poured out from teachers and community members while students cheered for their classmates May 22 in the Auditorium.

Dollars for Scholars board member and longtime St. Louis Park citizen Andi Larsen said she admired the scholarship recipients as she presented the awards to students.

“I am so struck by how wonderful this night is,” Larsen said. “I’m so wowed by the talent and energy in this room.”

According to Nelson, this year’s ceremony differs from previous years because the Dollars for Scholars event was separated from the Academic Awards and held in the auditorium instead of the old gym. Nelson said she has served on the Dollars for Scholars committee for over 10 years and appreciates this opportunity to participate because she is a Park alumnus.

“I’m so touched that so many people are connected to St. Louis Park,” Nelson said. “It’s a great way to give back and a really good thing to be connected to.”

Each student receives their scholarship based on academic, athletic or extra curricular achievements. Senior Anna Jennissen not only received her scholarship for working on the Echowan, but also received a gift of study tools from her presenter.

“I was nervous before, but then when I was up there and they were talking about it, it was really nice to hear and be recognized for my achievements. That was a really good feeling,” Jennissen said.

Senior Mareona Williams received the Sharon Warner and Dean Berry Memorial Scholarship which, according to the award description, recognizes students whose academic path had not been made smooth.   

“I was nervous. I think I was shaking on the stage, I’m not even going to lie, but it felt good to see somebody see what I do,” Williams said. “I do a lot. I come from St. Cloud to school every day so that travel and classes and keeping up it’s just a lot.”

Nelson said the organizational process for this event begins in January and includes a day where staff members debate who should receive each award. She said although many school districts have Dollars for Scholars chapters, Park has the special ability to give out over $90,000 to graduating seniors.

“St. Louis Park is unique in that (Dollars for Scholars) has been around for a long time and the amount of money here is just amazing that we give out,” Nelson said.