Sunday, April 6, 2014

"Smile" Scholarship

Because Blake loved our high school so much, his friends decided that the best way to honor his memory was to set up a scholarship for a graduating senior every year. Today Blake's mom, a couple of his friends, and I looked through the scholarship applications to pick a recipient.

The description for the scholarship reads:
"The family and friends of Blake Norvell established this $1,000 scholarship in honor of Blake’s passionate, fun-loving spirit and his infectious smile. Confidently riding around in his beat-up mini-van, Blake had the ability to make everyone around him feel welcomed and will be remembered as the “glue” that held Corona’s class of 2006 together. This scholarship will be awarded to a Corona del Sol senior student who most epitomizes the qualities that made our dear friend Blake so special—community leadership, academic acumen and a positive, outgoing personality."

Selecting a winner was a weird experience. As I was looking over the transcripts, lists of extracurriculars, and reading the raps they were asked to write (haha the best idea ever) I started wondering what they were thinking when they applied.

I applied to a bunch of scholarships as a graduating senior, many of them "memorial" scholarships. At the time I was grateful that a family was willing to give me money just for being me, but I never thought deeper about it than that. Aside from the brief description of their lost loved one, I never wondered who that person was, how giving that money to a student was meaningful to them, or why it was an important part of keeping their legacy alive. But today, all of this was going through my head as I was reviewing the applicants profiles.

As I was trying to picture each person's life, I was looking for words, for a feeling that felt like Blake. I wondered if the students who applied knew that I would be pouring myself into every letter, every comma, searching for the man that I miss more than anyone in the world. I was looking for a little piece of Blake within them; a small reminder of who he was and what he contributed to our high school and our lives. 

After about an hour, we picked a winner. Although I'm not sure when or how, she will receive $1,000 of the money raised in Blake's memory. Will she think about Blake when she receives it? Will she be proud that we saw a little bit of him in her? Will she be grateful to be a part of his legacy? Who knows. But what I do know is that even if she doesn't think about or realize these things, we do, and I think that's more important. Being able to give someone like Blake money to help them pursue their dreams means that he gets to continue to help others. And it means that we get to see a little piece of him again.