BREC celebrates Academic Banquet and Scholarship Night

Several Blue Ridge Early College students were honored earlier this month for academic achievements earned throughout the 2018-19 school year with over $100,000 in scholarships awarded at the Academic Banquet and Scholarship Night at The Orchard in Cashiers.

Guest speaker Dr. Jill Granger, Dean of the Honors College at Western Carolina University emphasized the importance of recognizing these students for their hard work.

“Why not just send the certificate off in the mail,” said Granger. “Because it’s important to stop what you’re doing and take the time to get together and celebrate their achievements.”

BREC Principal Brent Speckhart said successes should be highlighted and celebrated.

“It extremely important to our school that we uplift academic successes,” he said. “Students should feel valued. We have students earning four-year scholarships, success breeds success.”

Each scholarship has its own selection committee who are looking for students who excel in leadership, academics, and being a well-rounded individual, said Speckhart.

“Each year I see the group of graduates and think it’s the strongest I’ve ever seen, and each year I’m amazed,” he said.

Senior Ali Minnihan maintains good grades and also finds time for soccer, cross-country, and basketball.

“I keep lists and time management,” said Minnihan. “My mom trusts me, so she doesn’t need to stay on top of my schedule.”

She added that a big part of her academic and high school career is the support system at BREC including BREC faculty and especially School Counselor Amy Fahey.

“All the teachers and Ms. Fahey, everyone wants to see you succeed and are willing to help you with anything you need,” said Minnihan.

Senior Ashley Foster said it was nice receiving recognition for all the hard work that goes into maintaining good grades. Between volleyball, a job, and squeezing in that family time every Sunday, some recognition feels good.

“I think these nights are awesome,” said Foster. “It’s so nice that these groups come out and award these scholarships in person, I can’t thank them enough.”

Speckhart said he could not be prouder of these students.

“These are such good kids,” he said. “They’re not entitled, they’re hard working, and they’re honest. I couldn’t be prouder.”

Article and Photos by Brian O’Shea
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Scholarship winners:

Antique Fair Scholarship: Julio Reyes, Kayley Bryson

Auxiliary of the Veterans of Foreign Wars – Nancy Ryan Memorial Scholarship: Alicia Minnihan, Levi Taylor 

Blue Ridge School Education Foundation Scholarship: Julio Reyes, Noah Pressler, Levi Taylor, Jade Bryson, Mystery Knope, Kayley Bryson, Hailee Moss, Alicia Minnihan.

Blue Ridge School Education Foundation Scholarship – Don W. Sentell Award: Ashely Foster

Bobcat Athletic Booster Club Scholarship: Mystery Knope, Noah Pressler

Cashiers United Methodist Church Scholarship: Alicia Minnihan, Levi Taylor, Ashley Foster, Kayley Bryson, Julio Reyes, Mystery Knope, Noah Pressler

Cashiers Valley Community Council: Ashley Foster 

The Church of the Good Shepherd: will award computers and scholarships and will be determined over the summer. 

Glenville Community Center – Viola Bryson Memorial Scholarship: Mystery Knope 

Highlands-Cashiers Board of Realtors Scholarship: Ashley Foster, Alicia Minnihan, Mystery Knope 

Jackson County Genealogical Society – Jim & Jean Scott Foundation Scholarship: Julio Reyes 

Norton Community Scholarship: Jade Byson

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