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Scholarship safe for Mount Si senior?

Mount Si High School senior Brianna Kelly, center, has won the Washington Award for Vocational Excellence, given to students who excel in career training. She is flanked by teacher Laura Tarp and counselor Amy Anderson. - Seth Truscott / Snoqualmie Valley Record
Mount Si High School senior Brianna Kelly, center, has won the Washington Award for Vocational Excellence, given to students who excel in career training. She is flanked by teacher Laura Tarp and counselor Amy Anderson.
— image credit: Seth Truscott / Snoqualmie Valley Record

Mount Si High School senior Brianna Kelly has been on edge since February, waiting to learn whether she will win the Washington Award for Vocational Excellence, or WAVE scholarship.

She’s also wondered whether the WAVE will exist even if she does win it. The career award was one of six state scholarships on the chopping block during spring budget wrangles. Cutting the awards would have eliminated $24 million in spending.

This month, Kelly got word that, pending approval from Gov. Chris Gregoire, the WAVE is safe. However, the $1.4 million award program will receive less funding than in prior years.

“The supplemental budget that the legislature approved effectively cuts the WAVE budget a bit, (but) not as much as it was proposed by the Governor,” said Tim Sweeney, marketing director for the Washington State Workforce Training and Education.

As Kelly walked to class two weeks ago, she passed by the Mount Si Career Center, where she caught the eye of Amy Anderson, a school counselor. Anderson had been assisting her in the application process for the WAVE scholarship last fall.

“I saw Ms. Anderson and I waved. She yells, ‘Brianna, you won!’,” said Kelly. “I’m excited, it’s great.”

While the WAVE is typically given to three students from each legislative district in Washington — two high school students and one community college student — the latest revision will fund one student per district for the 2010-2011 school year.

The other two winners are eligible if the budget provides funding in the future. That’s a recognition that’s important to note, Sweeney said.

“Similarly, we will look at next year’s budget, whether or not all WAVE scholars that are getting money now will get dollars,” he added.

“I’m so happy that the legislators listened, and realized that the WAVE is a wonderful opportunity for students who might not otherwise be able to go to college,” said Anderson. “This is validation that the state has something to offer and they’re going to help students along the way.”

Competing with students from six other high schools in the Fifth Legislative District, Kelly’s award lauds her promise and direction for the future.

“Brianna is a great example of a student who has really found her passion, and future career path, through hands-on Career and Technical Education classes that blend academics with real-world experience,” said Marina Parr, a spokeswoman for the Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board.

Kelly has applied to both South Seattle and Seattle Central Community Colleges — which she will put her WAVE scholarship funding toward — and hopes to attend either school to pursue culinary arts and nutrition.

She will then attend Johnson and Wales University, a four-year culinary university in Denver, Colo., where she will study baking and pastry. Kelly was also awarded scholarship money to attend the university.

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