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Foundation honors ROPE Award winners


The Robert and Janice McNair Foundation honored recipients of the 2014 ROPE (Reaching for One’s Potential for Excellence) Award during a dinner on Saturday.

The event was held at the Carolina Event and Conference Center and included a meal, student entertainment and speakers.

The foundation presented awards to 44 seniors from Chase High School and 52 seniors from East Rutherford High School.

“In 1989 the foundation was started in an effort to change Rutherford County. Now in 2014, the foundation provides resources to get ready for college,” Monica Lee, executive director of the McNair Foundation, told the recipients. “You are the 25th group to receive the Rope Awards. You accepted the challenge to excel and met and exceeded that challenge.”

The guest speaker for the event was Dr. Benjamin Arienkiel, an assistant professor and McNair Scholar in the Departments of Molecular and Human Genetics and Neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Arienkiel spoke to science classes at the high schools on Friday and said he was impressed with the McNair Foundation and everything it does for the students.

“I want to congratulate everyone here, I’m proud to be here amongst you because this is an amazing event,” Arienkiel said to the ROPE recipients. “From everything I’ve seen over the last couple of days, the students here are well-prepared for the future. I hope you realize the opportunities you have.”

Arienkiel talked to the ROPE recipients about the genetic engineering he does in his lab and how the McNairs have kept his dream of being a scientist alive by choosing him as a scholar.

“Not only have they touched my life, they are touching your life. You should all be extremely proud because when I visited your schools it touched me. I could not believe how much support everyone puts in education,” Arienkiel said. “Be proud of what you are doing, enjoy your award and enjoy the next step.”

Chandler Casner, a ROPE recipient from Chase High School, also talked about his experience with the foundation and how the mentors have been heroes to the students.

“The hero is one who kindles a great light in the world, who sets up blazing torches in the dark streets of life for men to see by. This is the first class at Chase High School that has had the opportunity and access to McNair mentors for all of our high school career,” Casner said. “For me, these mentors and my own mentor, Mrs. Pendarvus have been my blazing torches always pushing me to do my best and pointing out everything from my tardies to how much a belt could help our generation. My mentor has been a source of positive encouragement in a world filled with failure.”

Casner said participating in the ROPE program has opened many doors for him and fellow classmates.

“The McNair Educational Foundation has opened doors to new people, places, experiences and sometimes new worlds through service hours. Our service learning experiences are equipping students with skills that are not learned in the classroom. Instead they give us real world applications while allowing us to simultaneously give back to our community,” Casner said. “That is what the McNair Educational Foundation and the ROPE Award means not only to me, but to all the students of the Rutherford County School system and our community.”

The ROPE Award is given annually to students who have taken challenging classes, made good grades, served the community, demonstrated upstanding character at school and in the community, and overcome obstacles to reach for their potential. ROPE Award recipients are selected by the ROPE Award Teacher Advisory Council consisting of teachers from the high school and feeder middle and elementary schools. 

To be eligible to apply for the ROPE Award, students must maintain a 3.0 weighted grade point average (GPA), meet the University of North Carolina system’s admissions requirements, make an 840 on the SAT or 17 on the ACT or take a combination of the tests three times and provide a minimum of 100 service learning hours to the community. Students can begin working towards the eligibility requirements the summer prior to their freshman year in high school.

Chase High School ROPE recipients for 2014 are Beatriz Alerman, Cierra Alley, Rebecca Beheler, Nadia Berry, Alana Bridges, Harley Burgess, Kaylee Campbell, Chandler Casner, Simon Davis, Lucas Eller, Joshua Epley, Robert Evans, Matthew Glynn, Devyn Gowan, Amanda Harris, Maria Head, Brandon Hill, Cindy Hoyle, Yancey Hubbard, Jr., Michael Kuykendall, Mikayla Langley, Brittney Lipscomb, Allison Luckado, Tristan Maness, Ashtyn Martin, Hannah Mitchen, Trenton Mode, Kaleb Morrow, McKenzie Morrow, Joelle Murray, Marsden Murray, Ana Nieto, Jordan O’Rourke, Joshua Parks, Linita Pruett, Mikayla Radnolph, Marissa Ray, Jacob Ruff, Daniel Sams, Zachary Scruggs, Zhane Watkins, Alyssa Watson, April Wells and Mason Womack.

The 2014 recipients for East Rutherford are Tabatha Alley, Erika Beaty, Meredith Bennett, Devonte’ Boykins, Austin Bridges, Erika Brooks, Rachel Camp, Tyler Campbell, Joshua Carver, Joshua Conner, Victoria Craig, Ryan Date, Megan Dobbins, Emily Dotson, Alexandra Elgin, Kayla Ensley, Sthefany Flores, Joshua Goodwin, Raven Gray, Cari Grene, Na’ilah Griffin, Megan Hall, Tripp Hamrick, Kenedi Hamrick, Gray Hill, Austin Hollifield, William Hollifield, James Hunt, Jade Jolley, Na’Shir Kelly, Kyle Lynn, Kaleb McEntyre, Jacob Melton, ValarieMesser, Cameron Moore, Mckenzie Morrow, Brooklyn Murray, Rachel Murray, John Padgett, Angela Perez, Jonisha Rudisill, Taylor Sheehan, Kamron Shytle, Erica Smith, Austin Street, Jack Vaughn, Travis Waldroup-Rodriguez, CJ Wareen, Mizani Washburn, Garrett White, Todd Whitley and Jasmine Wood.

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Mike Gavin/Contributed photo The Robert and Janice McNair Educational Foundation honored ROPE (Reaching for One's Potential for Excellence) recipients from Chase and East Rutherford high schools during a special dinner at the Carolina Event and Conference Center on Saturday. Awards were presented to 44 seniors from Chase High School and 52 seniors from East Rutherford High School.

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