Coal Ridge lands 3 Daniels Fund scholars |

Coal Ridge lands 3 Daniels Fund scholars

Theresa Hamilton
Special to the Post Independent
From left, Zach Barry, Claudia Buchholz and Santana Martinez are this year's Daniels Fund Scholars for Coal Ridge High School.

Sometimes, it’s easy to overlook the mail. Changing technology has divided attention between email, text messaging, social media accounts and the good old United States Post Office box.

Coal Ridge High School students Zach Barry, Claudia Buchholz and Santana Martinez, however, have been anxiously awaiting their mail delivery. They, like many other graduating seniors seeking scholarships, have been looking for a large envelope with a return address from the Daniels Fund.

Each of them can now be considered among the more than 3,950 students in the prestigious Daniels Scholar family and the first Daniels Scholars for Coal Ridge High School.

Through the two-stage process, the nine required 250-word essays and the in-person interviews, all three said that the hardest part of the process was the waiting.

“We have been texting each other all week, ‘Did you get the letter yet?’ ‘Have you heard anything?’” Martinez said.

“I cried,” explained Buchholz when she opened the envelope. “I went to the P.O. box after track practice and saw the giant envelope, and opened it right there in the post office. A lady walked around the corner and asked me if I was OK. I told her I had just gotten a scholarship, and they were happy tears.”

Martinez was at a track meet when her letter arrived.

“My Dad drove it to me at the track meet,” she laughed.

The emotion for all 238 high school seniors from Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming earning the Daniels Scholar title is expected. The Daniels Scholarship Program allows recipients to attend any accredited nonprofit college or university in the United States, and the program covers the expenses that remain after all other scholarships and financial aid have been applied.

“I’m still waiting for someone to read the letter and tell me that I missed something and I did not get the scholarship,” laughed Barry still in disbelief.

All three have their career tracks decided upon but are not as sure of their college choice. Barry will be attending the Colorado School of Mines to focus on the biological aspects of chemical engineering.

Martinez plans on pursuing a career in nursing, but is unsure of her college as of yet. And Buchholz is also seeking a career in health care — probably physical therapy — and is interested in several colleges in the upper Northwest.

While the scholarship is not the final determination for their college plans, it does open up opportunities for the trio and, in some cases, their siblings.

“My sister is also in college,” Martinez explained. “Earning this scholarship means that any family resources I may have been using can now go to her to support her and her education. It also means I don’t have to worry about the cost of a school as much, but can focus on what school will help me reach my goals.”

All have shown exemplary leadership in their community and their school. The time spent in student council, National Honor Society, school clubs, athletics and volunteering in the community placed them in good position for this award. But all three students credit the staff at Coal Ridge High School in helping them earn this prestigious award.

“When I was a freshman, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to attend Coal Ridge High School,” Barry explained. “The administration did a great job showing us the great things about the school, and the Advanced Placement program is great. They convinced my family that I would be challenged here every year, and that has proven to be true. This has been a great experience and provided a lot of opportunity for me.”

“We owe a lot to our teachers and staff,” Buchholz added. “They have all been instrumental in our growth. The English department in particular in helping us with our essays, our teachers for writing letters of recommendation and the interview skills that our counselors help us with.”

Coal Ridge Principal Jackie Davis couldn’t be prouder of her students and her staff for supporting them.

“We have outstanding students at Coal Ridge, and these three are shining representatives of our student body and show their character, and servant leadership every day. They are great role models for our school and community. Our staff supports all of our students by challenging them to become the best students and citizens every day. We are so proud of our Coal Ridge Titan family.”

The trio of Daniels scholarship winners come on the heels of last year’s Coal Ridge Boettcher Scholar, Jacob Morgan. Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale also had four Daniels recipients last year.

Theresa Hamilton is director of communications for the Garfield Re-2 School District.

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