BY JOE CARLSON/New Jersey Herald
ANDOVER TOWNSHIP — Extraordinary was the word of the afternoon at Perona Farms on Tuesday as the 200 Club of Sussex County doled out more than $30,000 in scholarships to local students in conjunction with several county businesses and groups.
“I keep saying that word, extraordinary, but I don't have much of a choice,” said Tom Ryan, the secretary for the 200 Club and the club's scholarship committee chairman. “We have such extraordinary individuals and such extraordinary young people.”
Ryan, along with representatives from businesses and groups that served as partners to present the scholarships, acknowledged 12 individuals whose college education will be a bit more manageable due to the generosity of the club.
The big winner of the night was Samantha Fritsch, a near graduate of Kittatinny Regional High School, who won the $10,000 joint scholarship from the 200 Club and Franklin Mutual Insurance.
“I couldn't be more grateful,” said Fritsch, who will be attending New York University in the fall to study English and history, before attending law school. “I am attending one of the more expensive schools in the country and everything helps.”
Before awarding the scholarship to Fritsch, Ryan highlighted the Stillwater resident's achievements, including being editor the school's yearbook, the vice president of the National Honor Society, a ranking of fourth of 160 students in her graduating class and a Girl Scout Gold Award.
“She's put in all this time, countless hours to be the person that she is,” said her father David Fritsch. “I could only have wished to do that at her age. It makes my heart warm.”
“We're extremely grateful,” said Donna Fritsch, Samantha's mother.
Other scholarship recipients include Allison Smith, of Newton High School, who received a $5,000 joint scholarship from the 200 Club and Hudson Farm; Paige E. Henninghan, of Sussex County Technical School, who received a $1,500 joint scholarship from the 200 Club and the Knights of Columbus; Chad DiBlasio and Alexandra Takacs, both of Sparta High School, each who received a $750 joint scholarship from the 200 Club and Sparta FOP, Lodge #26; Elizabeth Ysais, of Veritas Christian Academy, who received a $2,500 scholarship from the 200 Club; Jonathan Peter Couce, of Ithica College, Carly Roe, of Penn State University, Cole Harrison Parker Benson, of Sussex County Technical School, Dylan Koch, of Wallkill Valley Regional High School, Supritha Dugyala, of Newton High School and Vito Turri, of Kittatinny Regional High School, who each received a $1,500 scholarship from the 200 Club.
Founded in 1991 the 200 Club of Sussex County is an organization that provides death benefits to the families of police, fire and emergency medical personnel who die in the line of duty.
“Typically within 48 hours we're on the immediate family's doorstep with $10,000 check, a death benefit to help them get through a really terrible a time in their life,” said Tony Torre, the group's president.
While speaking to the scholarships' winners, Ryan gave them a piece of advice, to “burn the boats,” and told them a story of how while trying to take the Aztec's gold in the 1,500s, Hernán Cortés, commanded that his fleet of ships be burned so his men could not retreat.
“Head out to college with a lot of ambition and concentration and tenacity and burn the boats,” he said. “There is no coming back. You can come back and visit your mother and father, but there is no coming back from your goals of achievement. There is no coming back from your ambition because there is only success ahead of you. Be successful, don't allow the doubters to challenge you, don't allow the small defeats along the way stop you.”