Devin is our LHS recipient for this year. She is an inspiring young woman and has a strong drive to better herself and help others. At a young age family circumstances led to her and her siblings being raised by her grandparents. She helps with chores at home, taking care of her siblings and still studies hard. She was ranked 38 out of 463 students. She graduated with 51 college hours and an Associate of Arts in General Studies. Because of her circumstances growing up and the issues her family has faced, she wants to be a mental health therapist and will be majoring in Psychology at SFASU. With her hard work so far, her determination and desire to help others…I’m sure she will accomplish that goal!
Spreading her wings to fly
Lauren liked to babysit, kid sit really, and had several families she sat for. Ainsley and Preston Miller were two of her favorite kiddos. Tammy and David, their parents, were like second parents to Lauren, definitely the “cooler parents” over Bryan and I. They were more like older siblings that she went to for advice and guidance. The whole family loved on and cared for my girl…I’m thankful for the special connection they had.
Ainsley graduated from Lufkin High School this year. She loves to design and sew clothing and even sewed her prom dress, a beautiful blue and black lace dress, this year. Lauren had “a love thing” for James Avery jewelry so we thought a sewing machine charm was perfect for Ainsley’s graduation gift.
I also wanted to give her a piece of Lauren’s own personal jewelry. I chose a silver butterfly bracelet with pink, peach and green ribbons on it. I thought it looked like something Ainsley would wear and might enjoy.
I didn’t want to risk these special items getting lost in the mail. So I sent them back with Taylor, our son and also close with the Miller’s, to personally deliver them to Ainsley. Taylor chatted a few minutes with Ainsley and Tammy and left before Ainsley opened her gift. She immediately started crying when she saw the butterfly bracelet, which was the first thing she saw in the box. Tammy was concerned and asked her what was wrong. She said ” I didn’t think I would ever see this bracelet again. Lauren would let me wear it and play with it when she babysat. One time Preston was watching a movie I didn’t like and she gave it to me to play with while we sat watching the movie.” Tammy had no idea of that connection and memory of that bracelet for Ainsley…nor did I, when I chose it for her. She also got out a butterfly hair clip to show her Mom, that was Lauren’s, and she had given to Ainsley one time while sitting for the family. Neither Tammy or I knew about that little gift either.
Ainsley called me immediately to share about her memories with the butterfly bracelet. We were all blown away and crying about the significance of the bracelet. I’m so glad I picked that particular piece of Lauren’s jewelry for Ainsley. It was a God wink, for all of us, for sure!
And of course she loved the sewing machine charm and it’s currently being added to her charm bracelet. She also thanked me for both gifts, one priceless and one special. We also chatted about how excited she was to be attending Texas Women’s University in the fall.
Ainsley is leaving her cocoon and spreading her wings to fly. One day when she is a famous designer, maybe she will wear that butterfly bracelet while showing her new design collection on a New York runway .
Things are a little different this year for meeting our LHS Recipient. With the Covid virus wrecking the plans of the Class of 2020 and because of social distancing we were not able to meet our recipient in person. We truly miss putting a face with the name we chose, visiting with them and learning more about their hopes, dreams and goals for their life. So we don’t have a picture from Awards Night, like we have in the past, because it was cancelled.
But I’m very happy to announce our Lufkin High School LAF Recipient this year. Her name is Alexis Ferguson. She has been active in FFA all 4 yrs at LHS. She has served in various different capacities like Historian, Sentinel, Fundraising and did service work on local, state and national levels during those yrs. She has shown pigs and lambs and learned life skills in the show ring and out. Alexis has also been active in Drug Free All Stars, Diamond Dolls and Kyssed Club. She works in her father’s business during the fall and works at a snow cone stand in the summer. All four years of high school she has been taking concurrent classes at Angelina Jr.College. Wow…what has she not done should be the question. Alexis wants to major in Speech Pathology, obtain her masters degree and be a speech therapist to work with children or in a hospital. With what she has accomplished so far I have no doubt she can reach that goal also. Best wishes to Alexis Ferguson.
Sarah Withem is our Lufkin High School scholarship recipient this year. What a lovely young woman…in body and spirit. Very friendly, warm and open. She laughed often, has a big, genuine smile and that reminded me of Lauren. We enjoyed getting to know her after pictures were made. She is active in her church and helps teach 2nd grade boys…she is brave…lol. She will be living on campus and plans to join the Baptist Student Union to make more friends and be with other Christian students. She will be working part-time to help pay for her schooling. She wants to be a Speech Language Pathologist.
After being notified of the scholarship Sarah wrote a really thoughtful thank you note to us. In it she said, “I feel very fortunate to have been chosen as the recipient of a scholarship that believes in love, action and faith. Those three words drive my life, and I admire this foundation for standing behind those concepts.” She took the initiative to look up Lauren, our foundation and learn about us. Wow…that says a lot about her character and her heart. I have no doubt we chose well this year. She is special and her parents should be proud of her…they have raised a lovely, young woman.
Met Cristina Williams our recipient for Lufkin High School 2017. We enjoyed getting to know Cristina during “picture time” before the awards ceremony. She is a very quite, respectful young lady…matter of fact I think we scared her with how talkative and loud we can be…but she got used to us peppering her with questions and our laughter. She is in the LHS band and plays the clarinet and is thinking of trying for the SFA Band. She is already a CNA and has plans to work her summers and then concentrate on school during the semesters. Her family has had some health issues and that has steered her toward her chosen path. She is going to start the Pre-Med program and major in Biology from there she wants to go to Baylor and become an Anesthesiologist. She then wants to come back to work in Lufkin and to also start a youth program to help keep kids on track to achieve their goals and dreams.
Here is part of her thank you note:
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Bryan Alston,
It is an honor to receive the Lauren Alston Memorial Scholarship. Mr and Mrs Alston I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I understand how important this scholarship is and I promise that the name Lauren Alston will forever live with me, as I attend SFA, in this cruel yet beautiful world. I am glad you gave me the chance to achieve my goals. I thank you for lifting this financial burden that almost stopped me from pursuing my dreams. I thank you for putting your faith in me. It is good to know that there are good and kind people still left in the world.
So once again I thank you, Cristina Williams
It is hard to believe it has been 35 years since I graduated from Lufkin High School. A lot has happened to me in those 35 years…mostly good things…married for 33 laughter filled years, 2 healthy children, lots of travel adventures, successful businesses, and more… but one terribly sad, hard, difficult thing…the loss of my daughter Lauren.
Her 10 year high school reunion was this year….and it brings up several memories. I also graduated from Lufkin High School…in the Class of 1981. Ten years ago for the celebration of our 25th graduation anniversary, the class decided to give out a college scholarship to a deserving LHS graduating senior. Out of all those who applied, you guessed it, Lauren was picked as that student. What a great honor for her and I was so proud for her to be chosen by my class…I was tickled pink about it…or should I say purple as that is one of our school colors. I believe she lived up to that honor…she worked hard and graduated from SFA in the class of 2006, Cum Laude with a BS in Hospitality Management. That is one of the proudest and most special memories I have of her.
Another memory is of a classmate of mine from the Class of 1981. Her name was Jennifer Estes and she passed away in 1984, just 3 short years after our graduation. She was a Business major at Sam Houston State University and had a car wreck on her way home one weekend. At the time I remember thinking about how her life was cut short, how she would never get married and have children, how close she was to getting her degree, how her family must feel in dealing with the loss of their child and sister, the shockingly, unexpected, suddenness of her death…. and how do you go on with your life when you lose a child. Jennifer was a Senior in college and just 21…so…was…Lauren. I never imagined I would be in the same position as Jennifer’s Mom.
We give out at least one $1000 scholarship each year through the Lufkin High School Alumni Association. You can look at pictures of past recipients under the heading of LAF Recipients: LHS. We gave out the first scholarship just 2 months after Lauren’s passing and will continue for life. We have a “To Donate Online” button in the headings of this site if you ever wish to help us continue that legacy. Thank you… and Go Panthers.
Lufkin High School Class of 2006
This year is the 10 year reunion for the Class of 2006…Lauren’s class. I can’t help but wonder where she would be living…what she would be doing…would she go to the Reunion and see her classmates. As friendly and outgoing as she was…I’m sure she would have gone to the reunion…to catch up with the classmates she lost touch with and see the friends she had stayed in contact with…to share the memories of the past and to hear of their future plans for life… But… that is not to be. Wonder if they will have a special table with pictures of those who have passed away since graduation? Sadly, there will be 3 of those classmates, that I personally know them and/or their parents, who would be on that table….
Lauren Alston…Patrick Scott…Adam Culbertson
….gone but not forgotten… by many. Not forgotten because these kids were outgoing, friendly, liked to laugh and joke around, “never met a stranger” kind of kids. I’m sure the reunion will not be as much fun or as loud without them there…their laughter will not be ringing out in the crowd…their hugs will be missed. I’m sure there will be a few tears…as some hear of their passing for the first time… tears as they share memories of those friends… but hopefully tears of joy, love and laughter as they remember the good times they had with their missing classmates. I hope they will carry our kids in their hearts and try to live life to the fullest and spread love, joy, peace and laughter like our kids did.
I hope there aren’t more pictures on that table… but there probably is with such a large graduating class. I pray for those families…for God to give them strength and grace to face their lives without their precious ones…to remember the fun, happy times with their child…to look at pictures of them and be able to smile…that for more days than not, the goodness and love of their child will outshine the sadness of their loss. Prayers, Love and Hugs to you…from me.
I was made aware of these students from the class of 2006. Please pray for their families. Amanda Proctor, Joy Wiseman, Melissa Brown, Megan Hairston, JaCory Murphy, Ben Bradford, Jay Durham, AJ Darks and Martin Padierna.
Meet Elizabeth Foreman our 2016 Lufkin High School Scholarship Recipient. Elizabeth will be attending SFA this fall. She will be commuting the first year and is looking forward to joining and being active in the Baptist Student Union. She is majoring in Secondary Education and minor in Mathematics. She loves numbers and wants to teach High School math. From there she wants to take night and online classes to obtain a Master’s Degree in Education Leadership with the idea of becoming a Principal should the opportunity arise.
We have no doubt she will obtain her goals and go far in life. In her thank you note she said, “I have always striven for greater and to make an impact on people’s lives. I am going to work very hard these next few years so that I am able to eventually give back, as a teacher and possibly a scholarship to future students just like myself.”
We have 2 exciting updates to tell you about.
First…we had $792 more in donations given to us in the last few weeks. We are so thankful because that means we can help more students with college scholarships or more young adults going a mission trip or more children with new backpacks or ???…the possibilities are numerous …to make a difference in someone’s life. Thank you for your help in continuing Lauren’s legacy of helping others.
Second…we have an update on one of our Lufkin High School recipients. Lauren Taylor Hancock graduated in 2011 and is attending Stephen F. Austin State University. She lives in Nacogdoches, is a senior and will be graduating in May of 2016. She was a Twirl-O-Jack for her first two years of college and she feels that helped her to stay connected and feel apart of something after high school. “College can be lonely and that time I had to be involved really helped shape who I am and the decisions I made about my future” she said. Her major is Family and Consumer Sciences with a focus in Hospitality, Nutrition and Food Science. Her minor is in Secondary Education. Her passion is to educate and teach students from middle school to high school to understand the science behind the food they eat and how to be a great cook. She is President of her student organization and they do events related to family and community such as Toy for Tots and Thanksgiving Home Bound food baskets. Lauren said “Thank you for the head start you gave me in college. Both of you are so generous for keeping the scholarship going in Lauren’s honor.”
Glen from LHS Alumni Association called me over a month ago. He had narrowed down our choice of recipients by the qualifications we had given him…he always does a great job. He told me “I know I have always given you girls to choose from but this year I have several great guys I want to tell you about.” I told him we didn’t care if they were male or female…we just wanted to help deserving youngsters. He said “I don’t know if you know this family or not but they go to our church…Jeff and Tracy Portwood and their son is John. He is active in the young group, he plays on the golf team, he was thinking about Pharmacy as his possible degree, he has a very good GPA and more good qualities.” I let him tell me all about John and when he finished I laughed…in a good way…and said, “We know the Portwoods very well, they are our friends, and Yes, John is a great young man.” I told him how much the Portwoods helped us after Lauren passed away and that the whole family were kind, helpful, generous people.
Glen went on the tell me about several girls and another young man. He said he was really impressed with him when he interviewed him. Yes, all students applying for Alumni Association scholarships are personally interviewed along with other criteria they have to meet. But on to the next young man. He told me how he was on the robotics team, the swim team, he was already a CNA but wanted to be a Nurse Practitioner, he worked at the Boys and Girls Club and more good qualities. He then told me his name was Thomas Powell.
After Glen told me about all the possible candidates, Bryan and I talked about them and chose the two young men. Scholarship Awards night was on May 12, 2015 and we got to visit with them and have our picture taken. We were talking with Thomas and asked who his parents were. He told us Gary and Suzy and Bryan and I just looked at each other and started laughing…they were our “old neighbors” from Brookhollow. We had not recognized Thomas, because he was 12 when we saw him last and we knew him as “TJ” not Thomas. Lauren had even babysat him, his twin and their little sister.
Wow…how fitting to have two quality young men…that Lauren personally knew…from families that are our friends and were “there for us” after Lauren passed away. We are so happy to award these young men the Lauren Alston Memorial Scholarship for Lufkin High School for 2015.