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Henderson County Retired School Personnel Association scholarship recipients are, from left to right, Amalie Arambula, Eustace High School, Erin Samples, Malakoff High School, Kelsey Hirsch, Athens High School, Sydnee Mikkelsen, Athens High School, Arelly Tovias, Athens High School.

The Henderson County Retired School Personnel Association (HCRSPA), for its thirteenth year, was pleased to award five scholarships to high school seniors in Henderson County. 

These seniors will be pursuing a degree or certification in the field of teaching.  Three of the five scholarships are funded through a grant provided by The Cain Foundation for Future Teachers, and are awarded specifically to graduates of Athens High School. 

This is the third year in which HCRSPA is privileged to represent the prestigious foundation.  The scholarship recipients are Amalie Arambula from Eustace High School, Erin Samples from Malakoff High School, and Kelsey Hirsch, Sydnee Mikkelsen, and Arelly Tovias, all from Athens High School.

 Amalie Arambula is the daughter of Bruce Arambula and the late Lois Arambula.  Upon graduation from Eustace High School, she will attend Blinn College. 

While at Eustace High School, Amalie was involved in numerous activities including Junior Historians, Spanish Club, Yearbook staff, Homecoming Court, and track, varsity, soccer, cross country and power lifting teams. 

She received the Citizenship Award all four years, was Student of the Month numerous times, and was a Bulldog Pride Elite member.

Within her community, Amalie created the local “Race to Remember” for breast cancer in memory of her mother, and has campaigned for breast cancer research for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. 

She participated in the White Rock Marathon for Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital for three years, won the championship of the Nationwide Learning’s Student Tales National in 2006-2007, won the 2011 Cedar Creek Rotary Club 4 Way Test Speech Competition, was an assistant Sunday school teacher, a Vacation Bible School assistant and teacher, counselor for the Eustace High School Fish Camp, volunteer for the Eustace Primary School Field Day, and attended the Pathfinder Summer Institute of Cancer Research for Native Americans. 

Erin Samples is the daughter of Donna and Timothy Samples.  Upon graduation from Malakoff High School, she will first attend Richland College, and finish her schooling at Texas A&M where she plans to receive her degree and certification to teach history at the high school level. 

On her high school campus, Erin participated in the Dual Credit and Distance Learning Programs, UIL competitions in persuasive speaking and current events, and in numerous activities with the National Honor Society and Student Council, and   was active in the athletic program, participating and excelling in volleyball, cross country, track, golf, basketball and softball. 

Erin was involved in the READY SET TEACH program, which allowed her to work with an elementary teacher each week, gaining valuable experience in tutoring and mentoring students. 

Within her community, Erin was active in her church youth group, participated in numerous community service projects for church members, joined her group on several mission trips, and participated in clothes drives and city-wide clean-up projects.

Kelsey Hirsch is the daughter of Bronte and Rick Hirsch, and is a recipient of The Cain Foundation Scholarship for Future Teachers. 

Upon graduation from Athens High School, she will attend Texas A&M where she intends to earn her degree as a teacher for special needs students. 

At AHS, Kelsey has been part of the READY SET TEACH Program, the National Honor Society, Student Ambassadors, peer and student tutoring, and Family and Consumer Science of America. 

She was also active in 4-H and FFA, serving currently as FFA Chapter President and as a Sandy Land District Vice President. 

Within her capacity as a volunteer in her community, Kelsey tutored students in Saturday school, assisted with the Summer Enrichment Program, assembled care packages for our troops, participated in food and coat drives, packaged school supplies for CASA and other children in need, helped promote Child Abuse Awareness Month, collected donations for Haiti schools, volunteered at the local soup kitchen, and each week  mentored at-risk children.

Sydnee Mikkelsen is the daughter of Alisha and John Mikkelsen, and also received The Cain Foundation Scholarship for Future Teachers. 

Following graduation from Athens High School, she will be attending Texas A&M, when after receiving her teaching degree, plans to take her skills to Europe in a dual role as teacher and missionary. 

At the high school campus, Sydnee volunteered weekly as an evening tutor, tutored elementary students for TAKS, was Drum Major and section leader for the AHS band, Senior Class President, a member of the Bell Guard and Superintendent’s List, tutored band and marching students, won a Creative Writing Award, AP History Award, and Aquaculture Award, was on the yearbook staff, been Student of the Month, won awards in FFA and Horizon 4-H, and was accepted into the National FFA Band.  With her church, she  participated in mission trips to Ethiopia and Mexico, participated in the acting program for Sunday children’s worship services, volunteered at Vacation Bible School, and has been an active member of the church youth group. 

Additionally, Sydnee has participated in Meals of Kindness, collected canned good for the Food Pantry, assisted at the Athens Clothes Closet, participated monthly in community service projects with the 4-H, wrote letters to members of our military, and helped distribute school supplies.

Arelly Tovias is the final recipient of The Cain Foundation Scholarship for Future Teachers. 

Arelly is the daughter of Maria Rodriguez and Domingo Tovias.  She will be attending Trinity Valley Community College upon graduation, and will complete her degree at the University of Texas at Tyler. 

Throughout middle school and high school, Arelly was recognized for outstanding achievement in various subject areas by a Second Language Learner, for outstanding achievement in Pre-AP and Advanced Placement courses, in successful completion of Get Fit with America’s Elite, and for successful achievement of the 2010-2011 Honors Study Topic. 

For her success in the latter, Arelly was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa on the TVCC campus, an international honor society of 2-year colleges and academic programs. 

At the AHS campus, Arelly was a member of the Student Council, National Honor Society, soccer and track teams, Science Occupations Students of America, Future Business Leaders of America, Art Club, and the Key Club.  In her community, Arelly volunteered in Meals of Kindness, at the Freshwater Fisheries Halloween Festival, community trash collections, fundraisers, and landscaping projects, organized teams in city-wide food drives and distribution for the Food Pantry, was president of the Young Woman’s Organization at her church, and attended the Rotary Club Youth Leadership Camp.

The Henderson County Retired School Personnel Association has been presenting scholarships to high school seniors for the past 13 years.  This organization is proud to be able to sponsor aspiring teachers. 

Applications for scholarships are sent to the senior counselor at all seven Henderson County high schools each January.  

Applications are available to any high school senior who will pursue a program in which he/she will receive teacher certification:  a major in education, or a degree in a subject area with teacher certification. 

Recipients are selected based upon four areas:  high school preparation, participation in school and community activities, character and the desire to be involved in the field of education as evidenced by the direction in which they have focused their lives, and in an essay on the importance of teachers.  Information regarding these scholarships may be obtained from Scholarship Chairperson, Jan Bennett, at 903-675-2550.   

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