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By Tom Marshall
Two seniors at San Clemente High School are the first recipients of a new scholarship program of the San Clemente Historical Society. With the costs of a college education continuing to skyrocket, the Historical Society board of directors earlier this year launched what is expected to be an annual award of two $500 college scholarships for SCHS seniors. One is aimed at students interested in history; the other, for students interested in journalism. A newspaper, after all, is the first draft of history.
Historical Society Board members Chris McCormick and Marilyn Wigglesworth (both education professionals) headed up the nominating committee, which selected the two winners from the 27 entries. Both were impressed by the number of applicants and the quality of their work. Each applicant was required to write a 350- to 500-word essay about the importance of a local historic site. “It was more difficult than I expected to pick just two out of all the essays,” McCormick told the board at its recent meeting.
Claire Hooper wrote about her family’s long involvement in local community projects since first moving to San Clemente in 1970. She especially singled out their support of the annual Fiesta Parade and Casa Romantica.
Her essay read, “A city only gets one chance to save and renovate a historical site, and once a piece of history is destroyed, it is lost forever.” That statement set up her final point, “It’s my hope that one day the Miramar Theater can be restored and reopened, so I, too, can enjoy a movie or a performance like my mom once did!”
Peyton Gadbury researched the history of San Clemente’s iconic pier. She noted the two times the pier was severely damaged by storms in the 1930s and 1980s and the costs of rebuilding the structure. “History is a connection to the origins of a home and the evolution of strength in a community,” Gadbury noted. And showing some writing chops, she wrote, “It’s important to protect the pier, and other historic establishments like it to preserve the evolution of the town and remind others that tough times do not always end in complete destruction. Sometimes, they end in rebirth.”
Hooper plans to attend Saddleback College next fall, while Gadbury will enter University of California San Diego.
The Historical Society members wish a bright future for all graduating seniors. We plan to continue and even expand the scholarship program next year and the years that follow. Once their college educations are complete, it would be wonderful to see these two students return to San Clemente to join us in protecting our city’s unique culture.
Tom Marshall is a member of the San Clemente Historical Society and a retired journalist.