Huge haul of scholarships for RFHS students |

Huge haul of scholarships for RFHS students

Roaring Fork High School Daniels Fund and Boettcher Foundation scholarship winners, from left, Julia Lee, Tavia Teitler, Enrique Gonzalez, Fabian Rico, Nick Penzel and Lorenzo Andrade.
John Stroud / Post Independent |

Garfield County high schools in recent years have often seen students receive two prestigious, full-ride college scholarships that are offered each year in Colorado. But one school in particular stands out this spring.

Four graduating seniors from Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale ­— Lorenzo Andrade, Enrique Gonzalez, Julia Lee and Fabian Rico ­— were announced this week as recipients of the Daniels Fund Scholarship. The program offers a full scholarship to any accredited nonprofit college or university in the United States.

Two of their classmates, Nick Penzel and Tavia Teitler, were subsequently offered the Boettcher Foundation Scholarship, which provides full funding to attend any public or private Colorado college or university of their choice.

They join Basalt High School’s Daniel Barnes and Jacob Morgan from Coal Ridge High School as recipients of this year’s Boettcher award.

This is the third straight year that Roaring Fork High has yielded a Daniels scholar, but it’s the most by far in any single year the school of approximately 350 students has ever achieved. To have six winners of the two highly competitive and equally prestigious scholarships is a big feather in Roaring Fork’s cap.

“It speaks volumes not only to the quality of the students who applied, but to our culture, the academic inclination of our kids and the strength of our teaching and counseling staff,” RFHS Assistant Principal Kelsie Goodman said. “I love what’s happening in our local schools and our district, and I’m thrilled to see so many kids being honored like this.”

Glenwood Springs High School did not have any Daniels or Boettcher recipients this year, but it has had significant success in the past, including a string of five straight Boettcher recipients since 2011 and a Daniels winner as recently as 2015.

In addition to its four Daniels recipients this year, Roaring Fork had one other finalist for the award, Reed Featherstone. The school has produced Daniels recipients for three years running.

Nearly 2,000 students from the Daniels Fund’s four-state region applied for this year’s scholarship. Of the 240 students who were selected, 156 are from Colorado, 30 are from New Mexico, 21 from Utah and 33 from Wyoming.

Gonzalez, Andrade and Rico credit not only their teachers and the school, but the pre-collegiate program that serves the Roaring Fork School District for preparing them to be ready for the rigorous college and scholarship application process.

“It means a lot, and it really helped us to be stronger and ready for this next step,” Rico said. “Earning a scholarship like this gives us a fresh chance to start off our future right. It just opens up the world a little bit more.”

Gonzalez and Andrade said the Daniels Scholarship takes the financial load off of their families and allows them to excel as students wherever they decide to attend college.

“It just opens up more opportunities and more options when you don’t have to worry about money,” said Gonzalez, who has his eye on Colorado School of Mines. “For our school to have so many scholars shows that we have a really strong community and a big support system to help students succeed.”

“It’s pretty amazing when you look at our student body size,” added Andrade, who hasn’t decided yet which college he’ll attend. “It says something about the teachers and the education system here.”

Though the application process was sometimes stressful, Lee said it helped to have so many classmates going through the same emotions.

“It multiplies your own excitement when you know others got that letter, too,” said Lee, who is leaning toward Stanford University. “It speaks to our school and our community’s ability to inspire us to have the initiative to work hard and have the desire to shoot for the stars and pursue our dreams.”

The Boettcher Foundation awards just 42 scholarships each year out of some 1,400 applicants. Because it applies only to Colorado institutions, students who are selected can accept it or decline in favor of an opportunity to attend an out-of-state college or university. If that happens, the award goes to one of the alternates.

“There are definitely some big choices to make, but it’s a huge honor,” said Teitler, who hasn’t selected a school yet.

“It’s a very daunting process when you look at the number of students who apply and the number who actually receive the scholarship,” she said. “I feel really lucky to be a part of that group.”

Teitler also credits Roaring Fork’s teachers and the school’s support system for helping to produce so many scholarship winners.

“A lot of this is the result of the encouragement we get from our teachers and the staff here, who give us the courage and confidence to apply for these really big scholarships,” she said.

Penzel agreed.

“It’s pretty unique for a small, rural public school to be able to produce this many students who are capable of getting these really competitive scholarships,” said Penzel, who is headed to Colorado College in Colorado Springs.

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