St. Petersburg, Fla. – Twenty-three Pinellas County high school juniors and seniors competed in the 20th Annual Walker’s Rising Stars Scholarship Program held this evening at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg.
Walker’s Risings Stars is a year-long initiative that helps students hone their audition, portfolio, and performance skills. The program was created by St. Petersburg neurosurgeon, Dr. Jeffrey Walker, over 20 years ago with leaders from the Pinellas Education Foundation and Pinellas County Schools.
More than $900,000 in scholarships have been awarded to students in the categories of Dance, Instrumental, Theater, Visual Arts, Vocal Performance and Culinary Arts since the program’s inception. This year, we awarded $40,500 in scholarships, ranging in value from $500 to $4,000. They were announced by Jabari Thomas with 10 Tampa Bay, and awarded to the finalists by Dr. Walker and Mr. Kevin Hendrick, Superintendent of Pinellas County Schools.
“Art has the power to transform and inspire, and through this scholarship program, we are proud to support the next generation of talented students who will continue to enrich our community with their creativity and passion,” said Dr. Walker.
Dr. Walker has served as a member of the Pinellas Education Foundation’s Board of Directors since 2007. He has practiced medicine in St. Petersburg for more than 30 years and says he attributes everything he has to education and has felt compelled to give back to the local community.
Students placed as follows:
1st Place – Megan Bishop, Seminole High School
2nd Place – Mackenzie McLean, Gibbs High School
3rd Place – Tatiana Del Rio, Palm Harbor University High School
4th Place – Kamille Perez, Osceola Fundamental High School
1st Place – Ethan Abercrombie, Tarpon Springs High School
2nd Place – Laura Kopec, Palm Harbor University High School
3rd Place – Hailey Foster, Palm Harbor University High School
4th Place – Jonathan Miller, Gibbs High School
1st Place – Arista Athanassie, East Lake High School
2nd Place – Alana Hogan, Gibbs High School
3rd Place – Charlie Lane, Palm Harbor University High School
4th Place – Caleb “CJ” McGuire, Countryside High School
1st Place – Israel Harris, Gibbs High School
2nd Place – Mikaela Parrish, East Lake High School
3rd Place – Cathleen Qiao, Largo High School
4th Place – Amelia Perron, Gibbs High School
1st Place – Madison Abrams, Tarpon Springs High School
2nd Place – Za’Naisha McGuire, Gibbs High School
3rd Place – Sophia Bryant, Gibbs High School
4th Place – Addyson Reese, Palm Harbor University High School
Culinary Arts: (Scholarships for culinary students are provided by the Ryan Wells Foundation.)
1st Place – Niliah Jackson, Lealman Innovation Academy
2nd Place – Marcus Morton, Tarpon Springs High School
3rd Place – Jake Howard, Tarpon Springs High School
Walker’s Rising Stars is sponsored by Dr. Jeffrey Walker, Crown Automotive Group, Kane’s Furniture, Publix Super Markets Charities, Astro Skate Family Fun Center, the City of Clearwater, Elisa’s Greatest Wishes, Nielsen, the Rothman Family Foundation, the Ryan Wells Foundation, the City of St. Petersburg, and Suncoast Credit Union.
Special thanks are extended to Jabari Thomas with 10 Tampa Bay, the Mahaffey Theater, and the Tarpon Springs High School Jazz Ensemble.
About the Pinellas Education Foundation:
Established in 1986, the Pinellas Education Foundation is a dynamic, nationally recognized non-profit organization that leads the way in advancing public education and student achievement. The Foundation is committed to equity—a belief that every student deserves a high-quality education. Its mission is to accelerate educational achievement for all students through the effective mobilization of innovation, relationships, and resources, ensuring that every student will be prepared for life after high school. Foundation programs support academic achievement, whether students choose to attend college, enter the workforce, or obtain technical training, with program directors collaborating closely with Pinellas County Schools and a number of community and corporate partners. To learn more about the Pinellas Education Foundation and its partners, please visit https://pinellaseducation.org/.
Kate Smith, Senior Director of Communications
727-588-4816, ext. 2128
Nicole Gonzalez, Assistant Director of Communications
727-588-4816, ext. 2112
Isabel Mascareñas, Public Information Officer, Pinellas County Schools