Left to Right: Laurie Thackery, Elementary Teacher of the Year, Monterrey Hills, Henry Barbera, SPHS Scholarship, Lauren Kafkaloff, SPHS Scholarship, Alekzander Grijalva Moreno, SPHS Scholarship. Julie Ryu, Secondary Teacher of the Year, SP Middle School. Photo by Chris Glaeser

At the annual Scholarship Awards Banquet, the Oneonta Club Foundation honored two teachers from SPUSD with honorariums and awarded three students with scholarships.

The Oneonta Club honored the dedicated teachers and students during its annual awards banquet recently at its new meeting venue, the War Memorial Building, 435 Fair Oaks Ave.

Mathew Crow, Oneonta president, said the banquet is a way the club recognizes the educational excellence in South Pasadena.

“The awards are the club’s recognition of outstanding educators within our highly acclaimed local School District,” Crow said in an email to The Review. “The members of Oneonta Club are proud to recognize these dedicated individuals and their commitment to the students of South Pasadena.”

The club selected Julie Ryu as Middle School Teacher of the Year. Ryu has advanced the English Language Development program at the South Pasadena Middle School by creating an exciting, engaging and rich classroom experience for her students, according to Oneonta officials. Under her guidance, her students thrive, they added.

Laurie Thackery was chosen as the Monterey Hills Elementary School Teacher of the Year.

Thackery “has delighted students with her outstanding teaching methods in all areas; inspiring future geologists, authors and journalists through her stellar science and writing curriculum and instruction,” according to Crow.

Both teachers received a $1,000 gift award from the foundation.

Also at the banquet, the club recognized three South Pasadena High School graduating seniors with $10,000 Oneonta Foundations-sponsored Swann Scholarships. 

The three students were recognized for their community involvement as well as their academic achievements, according to the press release announcing the scholarships. 

The selection process was especially difficult this year due to the large number of qualified applicants, according to Foundation President Bill Cullinane.

Henry Barbera is a senior class president and an officer in South Pasadena’s Youth & Government. 

“He is extremely interested in technology and science and will pursue an education in the environmental sciences,” according to the press release.

Lauren Kafkaloff is student body president and has followed a high school career in numbers and computer sciences, leading and teaching her fellow students. 

Kafkaloff will continue her education in artificial intelligence.

Alekzander Moreno is team captain of his cross-country team and has spent his extracurricular time volunteering at the City of Hope. Moreno plans to pursue his interest in molecular biology, according to the press release.

The Oneonta Club Foundation has provided scholarships for college bound students since 1975 when the Foundation was established by Phillip V. Swan. Awardees have studied at prestigious universities throughout the United States. Last year’s winners Kate Ba, Bethany Chen and Natalie Terhune are currently enrolled at UC Berkeley, USC and UC Irvine.

The Oneonta Club of South Pasadena, founded in 1923, is an organization of community leaders who meet monthly for dinner and programs of general interest. The Foundation has awarded more than $1 million to South Pasadena students and teachers.

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Steve Whitmore is the editor for the South Pasadena Review. Steve has spent more than four decades as an award-winning print and broadcast journalist with a 16-year stint as the senior media advisor for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Steve comes to us from the Keene Sentinel in Keene, New Hampshire, where he covered politics and was a columnist.

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