BY JAMES HARPER
Thousands of Volusia County students will be graduating from area high schools next week. Finding enough funds to go on to college is an assignment high school seniors and their parents can’t afford to fail.
Five seniors who attend Greater Friendship Baptist Church in Daytona Beach are among the many high school graduates who will be receiving scholarship money from local organizations and foundations to attend college.
On Sunday, the seniors at Greater Friendship each received at least a $1,000 scholarship to help them with their next phase in life. The money came through a fund named after Elisha J. Strapp, who died in 2009.
Strapp, who was a Volusia County employee, started the scholarship ministry along with his wife, Sandra, in 1998.
“He served faithfully until the Lord called him for his reward in 2009.
Since then, I have had the great privilege of leading and working with so many talented members in this ministry,” Sandra Strapp said.
She said that since 2001, $39,350 in scholarships have been awarded to youth, college students and early childhood learning centers.
“This is our commemorative year – 15 years as a ministry. To our youth, you never know when God has a special blessing for you. Always keep Christ at the head,” Strapp stated.
Diploma and degree
Rachel McKenzie was one of the scholarship recipients who will graduate next week. She will attend Spelman College in Atlanta as a junior because she completed her associate degree in a dual enrollment program. Rachel attended Mainland High School and Daytona State College at the same time.
Brenda McKenzie, Rachel’s mother, said many parents don’t know about the dual enrollment program.
McKenzie, who works at Daytona State College, said that since 2011 Rachel has been able to participate in the program because she had at least a 3.0 grade point average.
“I didn’t have to pay anything extra,” said single parent McKenzie, adding that Rachel took one class each semester at Mainland and the rest of her courses at Daytona State, which enabled her to earn her high school diploma and A.A. degree at the same time.
Rachel plans to major in biology and eventually become a doctor.
The student says what motivated her was that she saw so many girls her age getting pregnant, some having to drop out of school.
“I didn’t want to be that statistic,” said Rachel, who also gets financial and moral support from her father, the Rev. John McKenzie, a former pastor of Greater Friendship Baptist Church who now is senior pastor at St. James First Baptist Church in Key West.
‘Stay focused, finish well’
Other $1,000 scholarship winners included Marlene Brooks, Dontavius King, Arrice Robinson and Melvin Young.
Emmanuel McMillon was singled out and received a $1,500 scholarship for getting the highest percentage rating based on a competition that included answering questions, writing an essay and on grades.
McMillon also was known for his heavy involvement in church activities.
Quoting retired Volusia County educator, a longtime Friendship church member Willie Mae Church, Strapp told the grads at a program on Sunday to “stay focused and finish well. For me, I know if you do this, He will reward you openly.”
This year Strapp said the scholarship program was able to give away a total of $11,000.
Checks also went to three early childhood learning centers – Basilica School of St. Paul, $1,000; Friendship Academy, $1,000 and Inspiration Child Care Center, $500.
Three students already in college received $500 each. They are Sta’Cha Beckton, Ricky Hemhil and Jante’ Medlock.
Bryan Daniels was recognized for “youth participation’’ and received $500.
High school ceremonies
Graduation ceremonies for Volusia County students will be held for area high schools beginning May 30 and ending June 2.
Admission will be $3 per person. Parking will be $5 for ceremonies held at the Daytona Beach Ocean Center. Tickets will be presold at each of the high schools. Here is a list of the district’s graduation ceremonies and information relating to the graduating classes of 2013.
Atlantic High School
Graduation: Friday, May 31, 7:30 p.m., Daytona Beach Ocean Center
Approximate number of graduates: 225
DeLand High School
Graduation: Sunday, June 2, 7:30 p.m., Daytona Beach Ocean Center
Approximate number of graduates: 535
Senior Awards: Tuesday, May 28, 6:30 p.m., Our Lady of Hope Catholic Church
Deltona High School
Graduation: Friday, May 31, 4 p.m., Daytona Beach Ocean Center
Approximate number of graduates: 325
Mainland High School
Graduation: Sunday, June 2, noon, Daytona Beach Ocean Center
Approximate number of graduates: 365
Senior Awards: Thursday, May 23, 6:30 p.m., Deltona High School Auditorium
Baccalaureate: Tuesday, May 21, 7 p.m., Deltona Alliance Church
New Smyrna Beach High School
Graduation: Sunday, June 2, 3:30 p.m., Daytona Beach Ocean Center
Approximate number of graduates: 420
Senior Awards: Thursday, May 30, 6:30 p.m., New Smyrna Beach High School Auditorium
Baccalaureate: Tuesday, May 28, 7 p.m., First Baptist Church, Family Life Center
Pine Ridge High School
Graduation: Saturday, June 1, 1 p.m., Daytona Beach Ocean Center
Approximate number of graduates: 375
Senior Awards: Thursday, May 23, 7 p.m., Pine Ridge High School Auditorium
Seabreeze High School
Graduation: Saturday, June 1, 4:30 p.m., Daytona Beach Ocean Center
Approximate number of graduates: 380
Spruce Creek High School
Graduation: Saturday, June 1, 8 p.m., Daytona Beach Ocean Center
Approximate number of graduates: 678
Senior Awards: Thursday, May 30, 7 p.m., First Baptist Church of Daytona Beach
Baccalaureate: Tuesday, May 28, 7 p.m., First Baptist Church of Daytona Beach
Taylor Middle-High School
Graduation: Thursday, May 30, 7 p.m., Edmunds Center, Stetson University
Approximate number of graduates: 124
Baccalaureate: Wednesday, May 29, 6:30 p.m., Taylor Middle-High School Auditorium
University High School
Graduation: Saturday, June 1, 9 a.m., Daytona Beach Ocean Center
Approximate number of graduates: 512