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Staples Grads Share $317,000

With little fanfare — but plenty of emotion — 122 Staples High School seniors and graduates picked up $317,000 in scholarship money Wednesday night.

The 70th annual Staples Tuition Grants ceremony did not get much press. But for the scores of soon-to-be grads — and alums currently in school — financial aid can be a life-changing experience.

STG is one of Westport’s feel-good stories.

Dr. Al Beasley poses with Megumi Asada, a graduating senior who received the Dr. Jean Beasley Memorial Award. Both Dr. Beasleys were beloved pediatricians; Megumi is considering a career in medicine. (Photos by Pam Einarsen)

At Wednesday’s ceremony, Andre Lambros described how his SHS Class of 1981 donated excess reunion funds to the organization last year — and felt so good, they decided to set up an annual award in their name.

Staples 2012 grad Carson Einarsen gave a rousing and inspiring speech. The tuition grant that helps him attend Savannah College of Art and Design is clearly money well spent.

(From left) Juan Castro, Justin Jones and Trevor Lally join Staples Tuition Grants co-chair Diana Bowes Weller.

Among the many representatives of named award donors was Maureen Kowall. She flew up from Florida for the ceremony. A scholarship honors her son Michael, who died when he was just 13. He would have been 40 this year.

Also on hand: Christopher Jones. He graduated in 1958 — the last Staples class in the building on Riverside Avenue. Fifty-five years later he’s initiated an award celebrating his father, noted Westporter Robert Haydon Jones.

Susan Malloy (left) — who has a Scholarship in the Arts named after her — stands with Ashley Hyun and her father John. Ashley will attend Pratt, and hopes to be an artist or art educator.

After the final name was called, and the applause died down, Rondi Charleston smiled. Last year, she and her husband Steve Ruchefsky started an award in honor of her father, Rolf Charleston.

Rhondi said, “For a long time, I’ve been looking for the heart of Westport. Now I think I’ve found it.”

Many of the 122 Staples Tuition Grants recipients celebrate their awards.

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