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Ritzer Family Announces 2015 Andover Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarship Recipients

Andover RecipientsScholarship Recipients Have Declared Education as their College Major

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Last Year’s Recipients to Receive Second-Year Award
(ANDOVER, Massachusetts)-Tom, Peggie, Dan and Laura Ritzer announced yesterday the 2015 Andover recipients of a Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarship, awarded to graduating high school seniors who will pursue education as a major in college to carry on Colleen’s legacy as a caring and compassionate teacher. This year, the family will award a total of $30,000 in scholarships, including $12,000, second-year scholarships to last year’s recipients, the first to receive a Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarship.

The 2015 scholarship recipients from Andover include: Casey Flanigan, Meghan Johnson, Katherine Rex and Sarah Rothmann. Last week, the family awarded a scholarship to graduating Nashoba Regional High School senior, Clara Greszczuk, awarded in memory of Michelle Farnsworth, a Nashoba High student who lost her battle with cancer in 2015. Colleen taught at Hale Middle School in Stow after college; the students she taught there are now in the high school. Four scholarships were also awarded last week to graduating Danvers High School seniors.

The scholarship fund is supported by individual donations that were made in the wake of Colleen’s passing in October 2013 as well as the Step Up for Colleen Ritzer 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 teaching with future students.

“Our family continues to be touched and strengthened by the many stories friends and strangers have shared about the difference Colleen made in their lives, and the lives of her students,” said the Ritzer Family. “This scholarship fund enables Colleen’s spirit to continue to make a difference as a new generation of teachers is provided financial assistance so that they, too, can pursue their passion for teaching. We are grateful to the many individuals and organizations who continue to support the scholarship fund as they provide critical resources to help form a new generation of caring and compassionate teachers who will be dedicated to their students’ personal and academic success.”

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.” 

            Casey Flanigan will attend Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire where she will pursue a degree in secondary education with a concentration in math. During all four years of high school, she was a member of Phoenix Swimming and the Andover High School swim and dive team. Those organizations which Flanigan volunteered her time include Birthday Wishes; Boys & Girls Club of the Lower Merrimack Valley; Frost School; and Special Olympics.

“I expect that after spending four years in college, I will be well-prepared to take the next step and become a teacher,” said Flanigan in her scholarship essay. “I want to be able to look back on college and know that it helped me become the best version of myself. I also hope that I can learn things in college that will help me be a good mentor and role model for future students. I have always looked up to my teachers, and hope that I will learn those skills necessary to do so in the next four years.”

Flanigan was recognized with the Coach’s Award from Phoenix Swimming.

            Meghan Johnson will attend Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts where she will pursue a dual degree in education and math. During high school, she was a volunteer, or intern, for Andover High School Sustainable Garden Project; Camp Runels; Girl Scouts; and New Horizons for Youth. She was also a member of the Girls Varsity Ice Hockey and Ultimate Frisbee teams.      

“Someday, I hope to be a great teacher like Colleen and become a leader in education reform to make school a more positive and enriching place for students,” said Johnson in her scholarship application. “Because of Smith’s open curriculum, I have to take half of my classes outside of my majors, math and education. These outside classes will prepare me to promote a positive learning environment for my students, as I will be able to have intelligent conversations across subject lines with my students in and out of the classroom.”

Johnson was recognized with the following awards: Excellence in Math 4; High Honor Roll; K-12 Gold Award and Most Athletic and Fun to Work With.

            Katherine Rex will attend the University of New Hampshire in Durham, New Hampshire where she has declared majors in elementary and special education with aspirations to become a kindergarten teacher. Rex’s lengthy list of volunteer service includes cheerleading coach; church mission trip; Lazarus House; peer mentor; St. Augustine School; and Warrior Way.

“Making a difference in the lives of others has always been important to me,” said Rex in her scholarship essay. “I always knew I wanted to do something to make a difference in the world. I am so excited to see what the next four years brings me. Becoming a teacher has always been my dream and now is that chance to begin that dream.”

In addition to babysitting her cousins at no charge for many days after school, Rex was recognized with the Deidre Ann Didio Memorial Spirit Award; High Honor Roll; and Excellence in Biology Award.

            Sarah Rothmann will attend Bates College in Lewiston, Maine this fall where she will pursue a degree in education. At Andover High, Rothmann was a star athlete of the cross country and indoor and outdoor track teams. Her volunteer endeavors include service with the EXCEL Program, Healthy Kids Running Organization, student-resident mentor, Religious Education teacher and Warrior Way leader.

“I am inspired by Colleen’s dream to become a teacher ‘one who shapes the minds and lives of children’ and will use these words as my motivation to enlighten the lives of my siblings and all students around me,” said Rothmann, the second oldest of seven children, in her scholarship application.  “Wherever I may end up, whether I am teaching abroad in a foreign country or teaching at the local elementary school across the street, my goal will be to serve as both a role model and mentor to my students and help them become driven and hardworking individuals who strive to accomplish their lifelong goals and endeavors.”

Rothmann received a number of recognitions for her academic pursuits. These include: Bates Scholarship; Excellence in English, Excellence in French I, II and V; Excellence in Masterpieces of British Literature; Excellence in Modern American Literature; High Honor Roll; and National Honor Society.

Eligible applicants must be Andover or Danvers 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.

The Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarship Fund is held at the Essex County Community Foundation.