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Beach Kids Foundation grants scholarships to local teens

July 19, 2017
Jessica Salmond - News Editor (jsalmond@breezenewspapers.com) , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Before getting funding for their education, local students got a history lesson about education on Fort Myers Beach.

The Beach Kids Foundation gave out 15 scholarships to students Thursday, with seven recipients attending dinner at Bonita Bill's Waterfront Cafe. Often lauded as the town historians, A.J. Bassett and Fran Santini were the guest speakers and told the students about what life was like when they, themselves, were in school.

"You were born about the same time Fort Myers Beach became a town," Bassett said.

Article Photos

The Beach Kids Foundation board gave out scholarships to Sydney Wallace, Madison Tezak, Annie Salyers, Martina Mausser, Jacob Lee Franklin, Hannah Mesick and Jordan Wallace at the awards dinner. Not pictured: Jason Freeman, Ben Hourigan, Samuel Jackson Owen, Austin Tezak, William Holt Wallace, Sarah Bestrom, and Josey and Kasey Mayer.

Many of the scholarship winners are island residents, and most of them attended Fort Myers Beach Elementary School. The school site, located at 2751 Oak Street, is 68 years old, but Bassett and Santini said they still call it the "new" school.

Santini is the only student left living on the island that attended the beach's first one-room school house, which still exists on Cottage Street. She said there were 23 students and one teacher, and for playtime they would just walk to the beach.

The town's second school, which housed a few of the older elementary grades, was located where the Women's Club is now on Sterling Avenue. Bassett attended school there for a grade. During World War I, Bassett's mother was asked to be a teacher, the bus driver and the custodian. Since Bassett and her siblings lived so close to the school, they never got to ride the bus, she said, but she remembers having to sweep it out at the end of each day.

"The schools were so much fun," she said. "Everyone knew each other and we were called the beach kids."

The board of the foundation handed out the $600 scholarships to the students, along with Vice Mayor Tracey Gore. Several of the board members were also "beach kids."

"We want to keep the history going. We need you guys," Foundation president Fran Myers told the recipients. "We hope you come back and help the Beach Kids continue."

List of recipients:

Jacob Lee Franklin, Fort Myers Beach

Political science, sophomore at Florida Atlantic University

Jason Freeman, Fort Myers Beach

Biology, pre-medicine, junior at University of Kentucky

Ben Hourigan, Fort Myers Beach

Marine biology, incoming freshman at University of South Florida

Samuel Jackson Owen, Fort Myers Beach

Foreign affairs, incoming freshman at Florida State University

Martina Mausser, Fort Myers Beach

English, creative writing, sophomore at Florida State University

Annie Salyers, Fort Myers Beach

Political science, sophomore at George Washington University, D.C.

Austin Tezak, Fort Myers Beach

Biology and ecology, University of Florida; associate degree, Santa Fe College

Madison Tezak, Fort Myers Beach

Nursing, incoming freshman at Florida Gulf Coast University

Jordan Wallace, Fort Myers Beach

Doctor of Pharmacy, University of Florida College of Pharmacy

Sydney Wallace, Fort Myers Beach

Nuclear engineering, sophomore at University of Florida

William Holt Wallace, Fort Myers Beach

Mechanical engineering, sophomore at University of Florida

Sarah Bestrom, Fort Myers

Communications, Florida SouthWestern State

Josey Mayer, Fort Myers

Environmental engineering, junior at University of Florida

Kasey Mayer, Fort Myers

Chemical engineering, senior at University of Florida

Hannah Mesick, Fort Myers

Speech pathology, incoming freshman at Florida Southwestern State College

 
 

 

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