Isabella Chacon Ovalles brought home her first college scholarship last week when she was named the outstanding fifth-grader at Prine Elementary School. The scholarship to State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF) was set up by Prine’s first principal, Bill O’Brien, who wanted to help impress upon the students the importance of education.
O’Brien set up the scholarship to recognize students who are at the top of their class in both grades and citizenship. Ovalles, the 14th recipient, will get the scholarship to attend SCF once she graduates from a Manatee County high school. The scholarship is designed to help keep students motivated as they continue their education through high school. It can be renewed for the sophomore year at SCF if the student continues to qualify.
Chloe Thomas is attending SCF in the fall and is an example of a student who stayed motivated. She received the scholarship as a fifth-grade student at Prine and still has the original certificate O’Brien awarded her nearly eight years ago.
A World War II veteran, O’Brien served as the supervisor of physical education for the Manatee School District for 17 years. He also served as principal of three elementary schools – Parrish, Palm View and Prine. An avid runner, O’Brien was president of the Manasota Track Club from 1975 to 1981 and has remained devoted to physical activity. Over the past 32 years, O’Brien has given out 64 awards to the outstanding high school male and female cross-country runners in Manatee County. He enjoys seeing students and athletes succeed and personally presents his annual award at their high school ceremonies.
“I have always had a special interest in the youth of our community. Their interest and dedication in their endeavors provides a good foundation for their future,” O’Brien said.
Every year, SCF receives about 3,000 scholarship applications. The SCF Foundation is able to award about 900 scholarships thanks to its generous donors. For information or to start a scholarship, contact Allison Nash at NashA@SCF.edu or 941-752-5390.