CHEERS to 10 students who’ve already covered many miles in the Merrimack Valley and whose running doubtless will take them great distances in the future.
Each winner of the Merrimack Valley Striders annual scholarship is an outstanding student with her or his eyes fixed on colleges from Clemson University to the University of North Carolina to Syracuse and Harvard. But in order to qualify for this particular $2,000 scholarship, each of these students had to write about what running means to them, showing how it reveals their character and demonstrating their dedication to the sport.
These essays, as described by the Striders, truly speak to the positive impact of scholastic sports on young people.
Take Casey Pedersen of Pentucket Regional High School, who allowed that she’s not the fastest runner but has always been fully invested in her team. Not only is Pedersen a scholar — a member of the National Honor Society, no less — she is dedicated to service, having helped athletes with intellectual disabilities at Unified Track Meets.
Or there’s Emily Pessina, who grew from running 5K races with her mom to becoming a four-year member of the cross-country, indoor and outdoor track teams at Austin Prep. She told the Striders she finds happiness, relief and a sense of accomplishment in racing.
Ariann LeCours of Haverhill High was also a four-year member of each of her school’s three running teams, and in her senior year was a captain of all three. For LeCours, who has served the community as a volunteer at middle school meets and who will continue running at Westfield State, the sport comes with deeper purpose and meaning. It is a journey, she writes, “that is embraced — just like life.”
This year’s winners of the Striders scholarships are but the latest teenagers from the region to have gone to college with help from the running club. The Striders’ Memorial Scholarship Fund — a tribute to a half dozen late members who “exemplified the character and dedication to running and fitness that the (Striders) organization encourages” — has awarded more than $170,000 in scholarships to date.
We’re certain that each of these winners will go far, in terms of ambition and quite literally. Each exemplifies achievement in the classroom and on the track and race course, and each is an exemplar of what it means to find inspiration, meaning and purpose in sport. We look forward to seeing all of them on the roads of the Merrimack Valley, particularly in Andover come Thanksgiving morning. (One free entry into the Feaster Five accompanies each scholarship.)
Congratulations to the Striders and their scholars. In addition to Pedersen, Pessina and LeCours, they are: Eamon O’Cearuil (North Andover); Jason Demers (Central Catholic); Jack Benoit (Innovation Academy Charter); James Barrett (Chelmsford); Aidan Corcoran (Haverhill); Molly Nugget (North Andover); and Makayla Paige (Tewksbury.)
CHEERS to the promise of a “jewel” in Lawrence’s crown when the city finally gets a new police station.
The City Council voted last Tuesday to borrow the money needed to build a new station on Lowell Street, across from the existing one. In the end, the city will wind up paying $9 million — the state is backing $49 million of the project — which is a steal, pardon the expression, when it comes to getting a new police station.
And does Lawrence ever need a new police station.
Staff writer Jill Harmacinski describes the existing, outdated station as crumbling, overcrowded, leaky and oppressive in light of air quality problems. The Police Department’s offices have spilled out of the building due to the crowded conditions.
“I am thankful so many people understand the current building is way past its life span,” Police Chief Roy Vasque told the six councilors present at last week's meeting, each of whom voted to borrow the money necessary for the project.
Not only will a new station be good news for the police, the building promises to bring the public into a large multipurpose meeting room. Vasque said community groups will have a safe, accessible area in which to meet and that all can take pride in using. “It’s something we have been looking forward to,” he said.
Here’s hoping the project moves swiftly — Vasque said construction could begin this year — with very few hiccups or complications. And here’s looking forward to the day when the city police can move into a modern headquarters building.