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Foundation announces Mast winners

From left, award presenter Cheryl O’Connor, of Suffolk; scholarship winners Joshua Bush and Arielle Reyes, and award presenter and chair of the Mast Award and fundraising committees, Robert Blair, of Washington, D.C.

From left, award presenter Cheryl O’Connor, of Suffolk; scholarship winners Joshua Bush and Arielle Reyes, and award presenter and chair of the Mast Award and fundraising committees, Robert Blair, of Washington, D.C.

The Suffolk Foundation has announced two winners of the $5,000 2016 Howard D. Mast Memorial Scholarships.

Joshua Malcolm Bush and Arielle Therese Balata Reyes will receive the scholarships.

This is a first for the Mast Scholarship housed at the Suffolk Foundation, and a first for any scholarship housed at the Suffolk Foundation. Making two $5,000 awards was enabled by an anonymous donor who learned that the Mast Scholarship Award Committee found both applicants deserving of the $5,000 award but, given its procedures, could choose only one.

The anonymous donor solved the problem by contributing $5,000.

The Mast Scholarship was established in 2007 to honor Howard D. Mast, who helped thousands of Suffolk youth as Suffolk’s Parks and Recreation director from 1947 to 1966. Most will remember him for creating from scratch a public tennis program that produced state, Mid-Atlantic and even nationally ranked tennis players, both girls and boys.

He was effectively the farm team for Suffolk High School’s six straight boys’ state high school tennis championships. But Mast touched the lives of many more youth through other athletic and non-athletic activities; evening sock hops at the Birdsong Recreation Center; fun and games at parks; midget and junior football, basketball, baseball, track and field; dancing and indoor skating at the old city hall gym; and much more.

In accordance with the scholarship’s criteria, the award committee reviewed each applicant’s financial need, academic performance, extracurricular activities, character and recommendations.

Reyes learned tennis on the Howard Mast Tennis Courts behind Farm Fresh starting in the fourth grade and went on to play varsity girls tennis at King’s Fork High School all four years, captaining the team her junior and senior years. The Award Committee was particularly touched by her essay, which captured the essence of Mast, his character and what he stood for.

Bush played both varsity boys football and baseball at King’s Fork. The Award Committee was also touched by his essay, which spoke to character in the face of uncertainty and the tragedy he had to face when “life happened” halfway through high school. Mast would have been proud of how Bush responded, achieving in both sports and academics.

Reyes excelled in academics as well as in tennis. She earned Academic Honor Roll all four years; UVA Jefferson Book Award; Virginian-Pilot Scholastic Achievement Award; National Honor Society 10th, 11th and 12th grades; held class rank third out of 250; among other achievements. She was vice president of the Student Council and was also active in extracurricular actives and community service. She will attend the University of Virginia in the fall, majoring in biology on the pre-medicine track.

Bush also excelled in academics. He is an Honor Graduate; held class rank eighth out of 250; highest grade point average in elementary school; second highest grade point average in middle school. He is president of the senior class; serves others in Youth Empowered to Serve; volunteered for Special Olympics; is a member of Fellowship of Christian Athletes; a member of Men of Iron; and worked part-time at the Suffolk YMCA mentoring younger children. Bush will attend East Carolina University in the fall, majoring in engineering.

The Howard D. Mast Memorial Scholarship Award Committee said it was again able to double the normal $2,500 award to $5,000 in 2016 through the gift of an anonymous donor, who contributed $10,000 to double the award for the 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 awards. And, as noted above, another anonymous donor is contributing $5,000 to enable the Suffolk Foundation to make two $5,000 awards this year.

All members of the award committee were among the thousand or more young beneficiaries of Mast’s tennis and other programs.