May 29, 2011
by, Sandra Giger
At the end of a festive night, Ian Akisoglu introduced the winner, Jeff Hilnbrand. Ian presented Jeff with an engraved smoked amber glass and bronze sculpture evoking images of spirit, creativity, and fire, a Certificate of Award, and a $100 check. Mr. Hilnbrand also receives a $5000 scholarship award towards his college education. Hilnbrand will be studying Mechanical Engineering at University of Maryland, College Park with the incoming Class of 2015·
Twenty-one seniors applied for the scholarship, from the Wootton High School Class of 2011. Applications were open between December 12, 2010 and April 1, 2011, and the competition required applicants to submit an essay, YouTube video, recommendations, and background information.
In addition to the $5000 1st Place award, the 1st Place winner plus another eight applicants each received $100 cash awards, for their outstanding videos. These awardees include Ryan Carlough, Sara Foster, Derek Jensen, Jeffrey Popkin, Eric Woodard, Anne Wu, and Hanson Wu. The award celebration recognized the many talents among the applicant pool from dance, theater, math, science, singing, and sports, to community volunteerism and family values. Everyone received a "SPIRIT Swag Bag" that included CARE items to bring to college.
The night began with a social and dinner hour at the beautiful, 19th Century period-decorated Glenview Mansion in Rockville, Maryland. Musician Henry Nam played slap acoustic guitar and piano to provide background music, while the crowd mingled over gourmet sandwiches from Balducci's and fresh strawberries from Lancaster County, PA.
Family friend and famed professional photographer Bruce Vartan Boyajian took photos of the event throughout the night. He began by taking photos of guests "on the red carpet", took shots of the dancing and revelry, and the awards. (See [lo-res versions of] photos below... For those interested, the hi-res photos are pending.)
Max Swider ruled the night with his boisterous emceeing, and fluid floor moves. The playlist was created by William Lyoo, designed to maximize the dance mood. Besides dancing, guests played a version of "SPIRIT
B-i-n-g-o", with Mrs. D'Affusio winning 1st Place and donning her "Team Robert" t-shirt prize. Glenview Mansion offered numerous socializing venues from the Great Dining Hall, spacious living room, library (Bingo venue), indoor fountain, and cozy library, to the upstairs Art Gallery.
After a long dance set from 8:15 to 10pm, the awards and winner were announced by Max and the judges. Applause and cheers were great. For the Winner, Jeff Hilnbrand, the applause was huge. After watching Jeff's video, the crowd danced to another set of music before ending the happy night.
Congratulations Wootton Class of 2011 Grads!