A boost for the future

Telluride High School senior Slator Aplin accepts the Neil Armstrong Scholarship from Carol Armstrong Wednesday during awards night at the Michael D. Palm Theatre. Telluride Foundation president and CEO Paul Major looks on. [Photo by Brenda Colwell]

Exceptional seniors from Telluride High School and Mountain School were awarded $143,850 in local scholarships — the most ever — during Senior Night on Wednesday.

The largest amount went to THS senior Slator Aplin, who won numerous scholarships including the Neil Armstrong Scholarship, which awarded him $20,000 ($5,000 per year for four years). The new scholarship was organized this year by the Telluride Foundation and Armtstrong’s family to honor students in the region in the name of the late astronaut who enjoyed spending time in Telluride.

“I was just beyond elated,” Aplin said about his scholarships. “I was blown away that I got [the Neil Armstrong] because it was for a pretty big region. But yeah, I’m going to Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo [Calif.], and I’m going to be majoring in electrical engineering. I’m really excited about it.”

Aplin also won the Man of La Mancha Scholarship ($6,000) and the Placerville Volunteer Fire Department Scholarship ($4,000).

Several scholarships were awarded during Senior Night on Wednesday at the Telluride High School.

A Telluride Volunteer Fire Department Scholarship of $6,000 went to Sara Friedberg of the Telluride Mountain School. The Alpine Bank/Imogene Pass Run scholarship awarded $13,000 between Jared Balkind, Shelby Brier, Hayden Fake, Rachel Hampton, Jessica Hild and Dylan Newell — who are involved with local running events. The Strokes of Genius Fund awarded $5,000 each to Hannah Daley, Ryan Niebruegge, Gina Distefano, Brendan Kelley and Sarah Wontrobski.

The Telluride Association of Realtors Brooks “Hoot” Brown Memorial scholarship gave $4,000 to Hannah Daley, the Telluride Elks Lodge awarded a total of $4,000 to five students: Ryan Niebruegge ($1,000), Jack Clark ($1,000), Hayden Fake ($1,000), Aplin ($500) and Dylan Newell ($500). The Telluride Rotary Scholarship awarded  $3,000 to Friedberg, $2,000 to Daley and $1,000 to Kristie Rutz. The Telluride Mountain Village Owners Association also gave out $1,000 each to four students: Cindy Carrillo, Juan Diego Flores Figueroa, Alexandra Riley and Brendan Kelley.            

During the awards, speakers gave congratulations to seniors as well as some advice. These speakers included Armstrong’s widow, Carol, who presented the Neil Armstrong scholarship to Aplin.

THS college counselor Karen Lavender said Aplin was likely awarded so many scholarships because of his strong academic record, his involvement in the community through volunteering as well as his participation in extracurricular activities such as track and field and soccer.  

According to Lavender, 32 students applied for local scholarships this year. Though the school has 52 students in the graduating class, many with financial means opted out of the local scholarships so there would be more funds available for students with greater need.

The Telluride Foundation organizes the Neil Armstrong Scholarship and provides funds to many other local charities throughout the year.

The Neil Armstrong Scholarship offers aid to students who are interested in pursuing a bachelor’s of science in science, technology, engineering or math. The scholarship is available to regional high schools: Nucla/Naturita, Norwood, Telluride, Ridgway, Ouray, Paradox and the Telluride Mountain School.

Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk of the moon during the 1969 Apollo 11 mission. He died in August of 2012 and was an 11-year homeowner in Telluride.