Scholarship to honor classmate

TICONDEROGA - Shannon James died a year ago in a motor vehicle crash, but her presence will be felt at Ticonderoga High School graduation ceremonies next month.

Two of James' classmates, Keri Cruickshank and Mara Haskell, are seeing to that.

The duo organized and raised money for the Shannon R. James Memorial Scholarship, which will be awarded during commencement.

"Shannon would have been a senior this year," Haskell said. "She was a really good friend and we want to remember her."

The scholarship will annually go to a graduate entering environmental science or engineering field.

"Shannon was interested in the environment," Cruickshank said. "We want the scholarship to go to someone who is like Shannon."

Cruickshank and Haskell held a benefit dance, raffled a quilt made by Diane Thatcher and sought donations to fund the $250 scholarship. They have saved more than $1,300 to date.

"The community was very supportive," said Ann Marie Elethrop, who mentored the scholarship project. "So many people in the community donated money or helped in other ways."

Scholarship organizers were surprised when Ticonderoga Supervisor Bob Dedrick drew the winning ticket for the quilt raffle - it belonged to the James family.

"They hadn't bought a ticket," Elethrop said. "Someone else bought a ticket and put their name on it. What are the odds of that?"

Cruickshank saw significant in the drawing.

"Shannon had her hand in that," Cruickshank said. "She wanted that quilt."

This year's scholarship winner is Jared Best.

"It's good to keep her (James') name alive," Best said of the award. "It's a great feeling to win it."

Best hopes to become an environmental engineer.

Elethrop praised Cruickshank and Haskell for their work in creating the scholarship.

"I'm very proud of the work and effort that went into this scholarship," she said. "In a way it became part of the healing process for them. They want to do whatever it takes to keep Shannon's memory alive."

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