Oneonta Club | $30,000 Awarded to SPHS Students This Year

Organization honors students with $30,000 in scholarships & teachers with $2,000 in grants


While the Oneonta Club holds a meeting the second Monday of each month, September through June, there is something extra special about the May meeting. That is when the club presents the Oneonta Club Foundation’s three Swan Scholarships to exemplary graduating seniors from South Pasadena High School.

Since 1955, the Oneonta Club has provided annual scholarships to over 130 deserving SPHS students. In fact, the chairperson and master of ceremonies at the meeting (once again held over Zoom due to COVID-19 related issues) this past Monday, May 10th, was Dan Evans, one of four winners that first year. Dan’s scholarship in 1955 was $100. This year’s awardees once again received $10,000, each.

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The Foundation selected the three students from dozens of well-qualified applicants. “Each year it gets more difficult to choose only three from among all of the remarkable individuals who have applied,” said Foundation president Bill Cullinane.

PHOTO: Provided by Oneonta Club | News | Top row (L-R): Original scholarship recipient Dan Evans, Foundation President Bill Cullinane, Club President Steve Hennessey. Bottom row (L-R): 2021 Oneonta Club Scholarship winners, Frances Chiu, Emily Wei, Gillian Terhune

FRANCES CHIU has been involved in assisting youth in other countries since the age of 7. Recently her family has fostered minors migrating to the US, and Frances founded a campus club on efforts to combat human trafficking. After attending college at Emory University, Frances unsurprisingly intends to pursue a career in healthcare supporting international non-profits.

GILLIAN TERHUNE’s application essay entitled “I want to be that teacher” was aptly named for this student, who has already been an elementary school teaching assistant and has 4-years of tutoring English to Cambodian teens through the TASSEL program under her belt. She will attend UCLA as an education major in the fall.

EMILY WEI found time to hold jobs, wrestle and run track & field, lead the school Make-A-Wish club, staff a student stress reduction program, be a teacher’s aid at Arroyo Vista, raise a record setting amount for the yearbook, volunteer as a student athletic trainer for the school teams, and log over 200 community service hours, all while maintaining a 4.1 weighted GPA on her way to studying Public Health in the fall at San Diego State University.

Let’s not forget the Teachers. Also honored Monday night were: Yvonne DeRaad Carlson, 2nd grade teacher from Marengo School (introduced by Marengo principal, Patty Cheadle), and South Pasadena Middle School math teacher, Dean McCoy (introduced by principal, Cheryl Busick). In addition to being named South Pasadena Elementary and Secondary Teacher of the Year, respectively, for being so recognized by their peers, these teachers each received a $1,000 honorarium and commemorative plaque from the Oneonta Foundation.

PHOTO: Provided by Oneonta Club | News | Top row (L-R): Original scholarship recipient Dan Evans, Foundation President Bill Cullinane, Club President Steve Hennessey. Middle row (L-R): SPMS Principal Cheryl Busick, SPMS math teacher Dean McCoy, Marengo Elementary 2nd grade teacher Yvonne DeRaad Carlson. Bottom row (C): Marengo Principal Patty Cheadle

Oneonta Club president Steve Hennessey declared, “we are proud to recognize outstanding educators each year, and Yvonne and Dean are no exception. It is truly an accomplishment to stand out amongst all of the gifted and dedicated instructors we have here in South Pas.”

In addition to all of the awards handed out at the May meeting, South Pasadena City Council member (and former SPUSD School Board member) Jon Primuth presented a discussion, comparing education here in South Pasadena with school systems in China where he lived for several years.

Through the vision of past Club President Philip V. Swan (for whom the Scholarship is named), the Oneonta Club Foundation was created in 1975 as a separate 501c3. The dedication and foresight of Swan along with that of his good friend Ross MacMichael (who served as the Foundation’s President for 22 years) created a lasting legacy in South Pasadena.

Since its founding in 1923, the Oneonta Club creed includes the following statement, “I further believe that only with confidence founded upon acquaintance, friendship and understanding may we render free and unselfish service to each other and our country”.

Through these scholarships and teacher grants, The Oneonta Club and The Oneonta Foundation both remain in service to the youth and teachers of South Pasadena, and support their growth into the leaders of tomorrow.