Wakefield A team celebrates
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
Jan 7, 2005
264 students collect $50 toward college for each A earned in a core subject
By Jennifer Sterba
Wakefield's A students - all 264 of them this trimester - celebrated their hard work Thursday morning with their "Nana," who is offering college scholarships to those who keep getting A's.
Patricia Lapan, or "Nana" as she likes to be called by the students, commended the students and welcomed them into the Lapan College Club - which promises to pay each student at Wakefield $50 toward college for each A in a core subject area from now through graduation.
The money will go into a fund which can be accessed only for college tuition by the student. Parents will receive a bank statement totaling their investment each year.
"I'm very happy to hear about your A's," she said. "It's not too late for the rest of you to try. Just work very hard."
More than 500 students attend Wakefield, and were included in Lapan's offer made last spring. Nine out of every 10 participate in the federal government's free and reduced lunch program.
The Lapan College Club is funded through the Lapan Sunshine Foundation - created in 1989 by Patricia Lapan - who wanted to help California students who normally might not qualify for scholarships but had the drive and determination to succeed in life, she said.
Her son is Tucson cardiologist Dr. David Lapan.
The Sunshine Foundation operates through Lapan's private money, made through stock-market and real-estate investment. Lapan offered in April last year to pay every student at Wakefield $50 toward college for each A earned in a core subject area beginning this school year and lasting through high school.
Students could feasibly earn up to more than $4,000 by the time they graduate from high school.
Thursday, Lapan invited students who received three A's or more to a pizza party at her house in California over spring break.
"I've known about it since last year," said Elda Estrella, 12, a seventh-grader at Wakefield. "I was excited because everybody is going to get an opportunity to get a scholarship for college."
Estrella said she earned four A's this semester in language, reading, gym and video production classes. She said she paid attention in class and studied about an hour each day after school.
"I just did my job," she said.
Estrella said she planned to go to law school and become a lawyer because she likes helping people.
"I think it's a good idea for people to be kind," said Ana Islava, a 14-year-old eighth-grader at Wakefield.
Islava said she turned in all her homework and received three A's this trimester - in science, an elective class and reading. She also plans to go to college.
"I want to study English, science and math," she said. "I want to be a scientist."
Tucson scientist and magician Mark Sneller entertained the kids Thursday morning with some magic tricks followed by a couple of scientific demonstrations of the gadgets he uses in his job.
During one science demonstration, he used a gray metal box - about the size of a mailbox - to count the number of germs present in the cafeteria .
"Three thousand" drew some wide-eyed stares from the students. "Four thousand" brought them forward in their chairs. "6,328" caused necks to twist and strain to exchange looks of astonishment with friends on the other side of the room.
Wakefield school officials agreed to bring in people from different vocations to speak to students and show them what opportunities exist for them after high school. Lapan's offer of scholarship money was contingent on the agreement to bring professionals into the school at least four times a year.
Sneller told the kids how he came to be a microbiologist - by deciding to do what he loved for a career. He urged students to do the same, saying the salaries and big paychecks would naturally and eventually follow.
The scholarship "has made a huge difference, especially for kids who were borderline B students," said Denise LaClair, a reading, social studies and technology teacher at Wakefield. "They really tried putting in the extra effort to get an A."
Title One specialist Lucy Kin said she has seen tangible results from the Lapan scholarships.
"They've become very serious about their studies at school," Kin said. "They want to be able to come to these celebrations. This is the first time we've had so many A's in the first trimester."
Kin said students have been more attentive in class and that parents are the ones who are pushing their children to take advantage of the scholarship incentive.
"I just kept turning in my work on time and it worked out," said Angel Lopez, 14 and an eighth-grader at Wakefield. He received three A's, one each in reading, social studies and student council.
"It's a good idea to help us out 'cause a lot of us don't have that money from our parents at home," he said. "I want to go to college and study law. I have a tía (aunt, who's an attorney) and she's a role model for me."
● Contact reporter Jennifer Sterba at 573-4191 or at email@example.com.