The winners of Granting Dreams

We all know the organization; the Parkway Alumni Associations Granting Dreams Program has been helping students achieve their goals for years. Five students from West were amongst the recipients: freshman Cheryl Ma, sophomores Allie Collins and Kjell Hagen, junior Shannon Anderson and senior Tashaun Ewing.

Ma won $100 to buy a guitar. In her application, she talked about her musical abilities and she can play other instruments such as the piano.

“I want a guitar so I won money for that, $100. I wanted to teach myself how to play guitar, and my parents were like ‘I’m not going to pay for that because you don’t know how to play,’ but I was really convinced that I would be able to play it. I was pretty excited; I didn’t realize that I would get that much money,” Ma said.

Ma knew that she that she would be able to teach herself guitar.

“I talked about how I’ve played piano for a long time and because of that I’ve been able to figure out other instruments. Basically, I just said that I need a guitar and that I don’t need lessons or anything; I’d be able to figure it out by myself. I kind of bragged out how good I am at all the other instruments and how I’d be able to pick up guitar easily,” Ma said.

Shannon Anderson, 11

Anderson will be attending the the Media Now STL Journalism Camp at Maryville University this summer. She received $200 and the total cost for the camp is $285. She attended the camp for the first time last summer. 

“I hadn’t been to a summer camp where you stay away from home except for this one soccer camp I always went to. I’d never been to an academically centered camp before, so last year I thought it might be not that fun, but then I ended up having a lot of fun! It was super cool and I met a bunch of cool people and staying away from home and doing academic stuff wasn’t as lame as I thought it would be. It’s changed my perspective on the things you can do with your time,” Anderson said.

In her essay she wrote about journalism and the importance of communication. Anderson was presented with the award during her chemistry class, the same way all other winners were approached during the school day.

“I wrote about the importance of having good communication skills in everything you do. I focused on how you could learn these skills and get different perspectives on how to apply them by going to something like a journalism camp where you would meet all kinds of different advisers and all kinds of people from all kinds of different staffs. Last year I took a lot from it and and I thought it would be good to go again this year,” Anderson said.

Kjell Hagen, 10

Hagen won $100 to go to summer camp and learn about being an Eagle Scout to improve his nature skills. For him, the best part was his parents’ reaction.

“I felt really excited when I announced it; my dad was really excited. It will really change my life because my parents will be so proud of me,” Hagen said.

Allie Collins, 10

Collins’ dream is to explore physical therapy, and with the money, she plans to expand her knowledge of the profession.

“I really want to go into physical therapy [as a profession] so I’ve been looking to take more science classes this summer. I want to really make sure that physical therapy is what I want to do because I want to be an early decision. I won a couple hundred dollars,” Collins said. “In the application, I talked about how I wanted to go into physical therapy and how taking extra biology classes will help me get more advanced in my sciences, allowing me to be more free and able to talk more classes during the regular school year that will allow me to advance my knowledge in that field.”

Tashaun Ewing, 12

Ewing was awarded $250 to go to a journalism workshop in Los Angeles, CA.

“I was surprised; I didn’t know how competitive the grant was and didn’t think I wasn’t going to win at all but seeing that I got $250 shows how saturated it really is. I will use it towards my tuition for college if I don’t meet the date for the workshop in time,” Ewing said.



There is a ceremony for the winners presented by the Parkway Alumni Association on May 4 at Parkway Central Middle School. Give STL Day is St. Louis’ second-annual 24-hour marathon fundraiser aimed at promoting more than 500 local nonprofit organizations. The Parkway Alumni Association has joined this fundraising event, which will also coincide with National Teacher Appreciation Day. All donations made to the Parkway Alumni Association through on May 5 will benefit the PAA’s Educators-Make-A-Difference fund, which funds programs in Parkway that inspire and reward teachers.

“Planning for the Granting Dreams Ceremony on Monday, May 4 is going great! The West students will be there to encourage parents to remember to give back on this day to the Parkway Alumni Association to help support the many programs that we fund,” Communications and Development Specialist Leah McCoy said.

McCoy has been working to make the ceremony special for the average 500 attendees each year.

“So far, we’ve visited all of the grant recipients in their classrooms and awarded them with their certificates. That is one of my favorite parts of my job. The students are so excited when they find out that their dream has been granted. Once all of the students were recognized in their classrooms, we sent letters home to their parents letting them know the details of the ceremony. Right now, we’re collecting RSVP’s from parents. Once we have an idea of how many people are in attendance, we’ll know how many chairs to put out, programs to print and how many cookies to order!” McCoy said.

McCoy is a Parkway West alumni as well.

“I’m a Parkway West Class of ’98 graduate, and I’ve been working for the Parkway Alumni Association since 2010. It is really fun to be a part of giving back to students in this way,” McCoy said. “It’s fun being back in Parkway, and I really enjoy the opportunity to give back to the district that gave me such a great education.”