An extremely selective national scholarship program has singled out McCormick Middle School eighth-grader Maya Feron as this year’s lone Ohio recipient.
Roughly 2,600 applications for the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s Young Scholars Program were received in the past year with only 50 students selected nationwide.
Young scholars are evaluated based on essays, extracurricular activities, recommendations, grades, and financial need.
A resolution from the Wellington board of education congratulating Feron was read by superintendent Ed Weber Oct. 16 before Sen. Gayle Manning honored the 14-year-old with a proclamation from the Ohio Senate.
The Young Scholars program is a five-year program for high-achieving seventh-grade students. Services for those selected include college advising, financial support, summer programs, and internships.
Foundation members will soon meet with Feron to begin planning out her benefits, which are set to include trips to the University of Pennsylvania, University of California Santa Barbara, and University of Connecticut.
“I’ll be travelling this summer and all of the summers throughout high school,” she said. “The summer after my ninth grade year I’ll have the option to go to Athens, Greece. They pay for your travel, lodging, and pretty much everything that gives you a chance to go to these places for free and learn so much. I’ll take that.”
Feron takes college courses at the LCCC Wellington Center as well as high school algebra and honors language arts classes at McCormick.
She credited a number of district educators, including principal Nathan Baxendale, for showing her the avenue toward the Young Scholars program and shaping her as a student.
“Mr. Baxendale is the one who let me know this entire foundation existed,” Feron said. “He sent home a letter I didn’t even know was coming and showed me a link where I could register to apply. I applied, stayed on top of everything, and eventually it led to all of this.”
“We have a lot of teachers here that are very passionate about what they do,” she said. “A lot of them have been with Wellington forever. My dad is a lifelong resident and I love being in a community that’s passionate about where we live. When I walk through a classroom I see teachers who are dedicated to making us better and I don’t think everyone sees that.”
The first teacher singled out for praise by Feron was McCormick social studies teacher Robert Ronsky.
“There would be kids who didn’t care about school and he would get all of them engaged in these class discussions and contributing really good answers,” she said. “He loves what he does. Being in (Toni) Novotny’s band program has taught me a lot about hard work and dedication because she really pushes us to be the best we can be.”
District media specialist Emily Campofredano was one of many officials to write a recommendation to the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation on Feron’s behalf.
“I have had the pleasure of having Maya as a student and Drama Club member since she was in fourth grade,” said Campofredano. “She is an amazing young woman whose sense of maturity and commitment makes her stand out among her peers. Maya knows how to have fun but she also knows when to lead and lend a hand to those who need the extra support. She’s been a great mentor to my younger Drama Club students and she sets the bar high with her expectations and work ethic. I’m so incredibly proud of her and look forward to all of her achievements.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.