(ANDOVER, Massachusetts)-Tom, Peggie, Dan and Laura Ritzer have announced the 2016 recipients of a Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarship, awarded to graduating high school seniors who will pursue education as a major in college and carry on Colleen’s legacy as a caring and compassionate teacher. This year, the family will award a total of $32,500 in scholarships, including $13,500 to first-year recipients and $19,000 to previous year’s recipients. Since 2014, $86,500 in college scholarships have been awarded to future teachers.
The 2016 scholarship recipients from Andover include Rachel Drew and Maddy Reppucci. Scholarship recipients from Danvers include Lillie Hodgkins, Kristen McCarthy, Lindsay Richard and Eileen Vandewalle. The family also awarded scholarships to graduating Nashoba Regional High School seniors Anna Fateiger, Erica Taft and Alicia Torres. Colleen taught at Hale Middle School in Stow after college; the students she taught at Stow are graduating from Nashoba Regional High School.
The scholarship fund is supported by individual donations made since the scholarship was established in October 2013 as well as the annual Step Up for Colleen 5K and other tribute events held to honor Colleen’s memory. The scholarship fund is a permanent tribute to Colleen and builds upon her legacy by helping future teachers obtain a college degree so that they, too, can share their passion for learning with future students.
“The recipients of a Colleen E. Ritzer Scholarship bear a significant responsibility to carry on Colleen’s legacy as caring and compassionate teachers who are committed to their students’ success, just like our daughter and sister Colleen,” said the Ritzer family. “We are grateful to the many individuals who continue to support the scholarship fund, including the thousands who participate in the annual Step Up for Colleen. Through these students, the scholarship recipients, Colleen will continue to inspire and empower teachers and their students to work tirelessly in pursuit of their dreams.”
Applicants were required to complete an application that requested information such as extra-curricular activities, awards and recognitions and plans for college. They were also asked to submit a 500-word essay describing why they plan to pursue a degree in education and what or who has inspired them. The last piece of the application encouraged applicants to reflect on words shared by Colleen in her college essay in which she wrote:
“Teachers have been an inspiration to me ever since I was just a young girl. Starting in pre-school, I knew I loved helping the teachers and would one day want to be just like them. My dream is to become a teacher, one who shapes the minds and lives of children. My goal has always been to become a teacher that will impact students’ lives.”
Eligible applicants must be Andover, Danvers or Nashoba Regional High School seniors who plan to pursue a degree in the field of education at an accredited four-year college or university. Guidance counselors encouraged well-rounded students who plan to major in education or a specific subject (i.e. math, science, etc.) with a concentration in education to apply for a competitive scholarship.
Applications that met eligibility requirements were reviewed by a selection committee comprised of family members and educators including: Tom Ritzer, Colleen’s Dad; Peggie Ritzer, Colleen’s Mom; Susan Craig, Colleen’s Aunt; Todd Butterworth and Sarah Giaquinta, Danvers High School Math Teachers; Kimberly Bergey, Andover High School Guidance Counselor; and Kimberly Rocha, Nashoba Regional High School English Teacher.
ANDOVER HIGH SCHOOL SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS
Andover High School graduate Rachel Drew will attend Boston College in Boston, Massachusetts this fall where she will pursue a degree in elementary education. During her four years of high school, Drew served in a number of leadership roles such as President of Students to Students Mentoring; volunteer at Lawrence General Hospital; St. Augustine Parish Family Social, leader of programs and volunteers; Andover High Student Ambassador; Cradles to Crayons, member; and competed on the track and field and freshman soccer teams. She also worked at Acting Out! Theatre Company and was a member of the National Honor Society.
“Ever since I was little, I can remember playing ‘school’ with my brothers in front of the large blackboard in our playroom,” explained Drew in her scholarship essay. In her job Rachel teaches children dance. “The joy that I receive every time I get to watch a kid understand a dance move or tackle something they had doubted they could do is the most wonderful feeling. To have parents tell me that I’ve made a difference in their child is irreplaceable. I want to be able to look back on my future career as an educator and know that I made that little girl, in her pink sundress, standing in front of the blackboard, with a messy, slanted alphabet behind her, incredibly proud of the teacher she had always dreamed she could be.”
During high school, Drew was honored with a number of awards. She received high honors each of her four years and was also the recipient of the Excellence in Spanish Conversation and Excellence in Dominant Ideas Awards.
Maddy Reppucci has been accepted to Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts where she will pursue a degree in elementary or special education and join the Army’s Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (ROTC) given a strong desire to serve her country. Reppucci’s list of extra-curricular activities is extensive. She was a member of the girls’ volleyball team and served as manager for the boys’ team. Reppucci served as a Special Ed Sports Instructor for Beyond Tops Buddy; Videographer for Warrior Way; cared for her siblings; and worked at Perfectos.
The Merrimack Valley Conference Division 1 Coaches Association recognized Reppucci as an All- Conference Player in 2014 and 2015; All-State Player in the same years; and named her to the All-Star team also in 2014 and 2015. The Boston Globe and Boston Herald both named her to the 2015 All Scholastic Team.
“From a young age, I have wanted to become a teacher,” wrote Reppucci in her scholarship essay. “I loved the idea of being able to help students grow every day to become their own individuals. I feel a great responsibility to set a good example and I always try hard to show them the importance of being a good student. I hope that someday I can inspire kids as well and leave behind the same legacy as Colleen did for her students. Always be good to others and others will want to do the same.”
The Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarship Fund is held at the Essex County Community Foundation.