The Rossmoor Homeowners Association awarded its second annual high school scholarship at the RHA Board meeting on June 21, 2011 at Rossmoor Park. The winner of the $1000 college scholarship was Jenna Leonardo. Jenna is a 2011 graduate of Los Alamitos High School and will be attending Stanford University this fall. She completed her high school career with a GPA of 4.24, and had many outside activities and community service hours as well.
An Award of Merit was given to David Harris who is also a 2011 Los Alamitos High School graduate. This award carries with it a $500 college scholarship that Mr. Harris will put to good use at UC Davis in the fall. David graduated with a high school GPA of 4.23, and had many extracurricular and community service activities as well.
Ms. Leonardo’s winning essay is included below.
The Missing Link: How to Make Rossmoor an
Even Greater Place to Live
by Jenna Leonardo
As an extremely supportive and family-oriented community, Rossmoor and its four elementary schools are known as an ideal of growth and learning, places where youngsters and their parents are blessed to begin the thirteen-year LAUSD journey. For those like myself at the graduating end of that system, preparing for the next step, we are keenly aware of the gratitude we owe toward our hometown, but are often left without a direct outlet to act upon it. Overflowing at the high school is a largely untapped loyalty to our pasts- familiar schools, experiences, challenges, and teachers whom we are unsure how to repay. And for each of us willing to share our knowledge may be a struggling elementary or middle school student falling behind, without the means to establish a connection with available help.
Through California Scholastic Federation or perhaps Chemistry Network, high schoolers frequently collaborate to tutor each other, for service hours or pay, but there are relatively few opportunities to mentor younger students who would truly benefit. Freshmen and sophomores especially are rarely able to tutor, given their age and lack of transportation, even though they could be of immense help to someone not yet in high school. If parents of elementary or middle schoolers are involved and wealthy enough, they may hire a personal tutor, but too frequently, the links, awareness, and money are simply not there, and the most needy children are still left without the educational resources of their classmates.
With my experience teaching California High School Exit Exam lessons at Laurel Continuation School, I’ve established personal closeness to my tutees and learned a lot about their experiences throughout school; most often, I glean that early gaps in education had begun a snowball effect of discouragement. Once they receive personal attention, many of those foundational fissures can be mended, but I can’t help but imagine how they might have been helped ten years ago. If attention like that can be given to Rossmoor children like them from an earlier age, new horizons can be opened for their entire futures, and lend them more confidence for coming opportunity.
The RHA has the rather unique ability to build that bridge between the eager achiever and struggling child. The possibility of setting up a cost-free after school tutoring session several afternoons a week would draw Rossmoor families both closer to each other and universally higher, as they volunteer and learn together. The sessions could be held at community facilities, such as the Rossmoor and Rush Park centers, or even at the elementary schools themselves. While training meetings and volunteer experience would expand the skill sets of tutors, their students would gain the benefit of private tutoring without the expense of alternatives like Quest or Sylvan.
In all of my volunteering ventures, I’ve been astounded at the enthusiasm with which this generation approaches any chance to repay their community, and there is no better place to harness that than here at their roots in Rossmoor.