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O’Malley signs bill, denies scholarships to junior Maryland Distinguished Scholars

O’Malley signs bill, denies scholarships to junior Maryland Distinguished Scholars

Taylor Hooper

Junior Lauren Friedly stands by her artwork as she reads her letter informing her of her withdrawn scholarship. Juniors for this school year are no longer able to receive their scholarships from the state of Maryland due to state budget cuts.

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Junior Lauren Friedly lost a chance to get a scholarship.

Friedly is a student in Honors Studio 4 and was nominated for the Distinguished Scholars Program for her skills in art. However, she will never get the chance to receive this award due to budget cuts that have brought an end to this program in Maryland.

The Distinguished Scholars Program gives $3,000 a year to students who attend in-state colleges.  There were both academic and artistic scholarships offered.  For the arts scholarships, each school in Maryland was allowed to nominate students in five different categories: visual arts, dance, singing, acting, and music.  Friedly was nominated for the visual arts category.

According to Friedly, she would have gotten the chance to present her work to the board who gives out the scholarships.  However, “I never got the chance to present my artwork,” Friedly said.

Even if she had been given the chance to present her artwork, it was not a guarantee that she would have received the scholarship.  “I missed out on the chance [to present my artwork],” Friedly said.

Junior Adam Kuester was also nominated for the Distinguished Scholar Program academically as well as for acting. 

Kuester, however, was not very disappointed to miss out on this chance.  “It would’ve been good [for college], but it was also a burden to prepare a long monologue to present [to the selection committee],” Kuester said.

Kuester’s fellow junior Scott Novak had a different reaction.  Novak was also nominated for the academic scholarship as well as a scholarship for musical performance.  “While I understand that budget cuts are necessary, the way they cut the program is ludicrous,” Novak said.

“They knew that the program was going to potentially be cut in January, and yet they didn’t notify anyone until May, less than a month before the supposed auditions were to be held. I was preparing piano pieces to perform, so it was irresponsible that they cut this program on such short notice. It is also ridiculous that they’d even consider taking the scholarships away from people who had already won it in previous years,” Novak said.

According to The Baltimore Sun, cutting this program will save the state about $1 million a year.  State senators and delegates get to award scholarships to whomever they want.  This program costs the state almost $11.5 million a year.

Senior high school students who received the award this year as well as students who have received the award in the past will not lose their scholarships.  Governor Martin O’Malley made a statement a few days after the program was cut saying that the government would uphold their previous commitments to students who have received scholarships. 

According to guidance counselor Kathy Barnes, these students designated as finalists who are going to in state colleges this coming fall will keep their scholarships for all four years.

At the same time, O’Malley signed a bill that would allow “undocumented high-school students” to be given in-state tuition rates.  Essentially, this bill will give money to illegal immigrants to go to college in Maryland. 

A petition has been started against the bill.  If this petition gets 60,000 signatures, the issue of giving money to immigrants will be placed on the ballot at the next election.

 Brian Reid is a reporter for “The Patriot” and jcpatriot.com.

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