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Art & Culinary Show supports student achievement

It's not often that people can enjoy a wonderful night out on the town while also helping students succeed.

But that's the scenario when the fifth annual Art & Culinary Show is held Sunday, April 18, at R&D Banquet Hall in rural New Richmond.

When the event, which is sponsored by the Rotary Club of New Richmond, takes place from 5 to 8 p.m., money raised will benefit the local STRIVE scholarship program.

STRIVE, which stands for Seniors Taking Responsibility Improving Virtually Everything, offers scholarships to high school seniors who want to make the most of their final year in public school.

According to Mike Montello, who has worked with the Rotary scholarship program for more than seven years, scholarship funds are available to students with a 3.5 grade point average or less.

"They are students who may not have worked up to their ability," Montello said. "They didn't yesterday, but today they can."

Montello he enjoys seeing the light go on in students' eyes when they realize that, even though the beginning of their high school careers didn't go as well as they'd hoped, there is always a chance to improve.

"It doesn't matter how you start the race," Montello said. "It's how you run the race and how you finish that's important."

Adults realize that people can change over time, but often students think they will always be labeled based on their high school years, Montello said.

"But you can always rewrite the ending of the book," he said. "You don't have to be identified with your past, if you just apply yourself. You can take the Etch-A-Sketch, shake it and create a new picture for yourself."

Students who join the program commit to attending monthly STRIVE meetings where guest speakers provide practical information ranging from post-secondary financial aid tips to job interviewing skills.

Participants also have to agree to complete four hours of "empowerment activities" during their senior year. The activities can include volunteer efforts, college visits or job shadowing.

They also have to meet minimum requirements for school attendance throughout their senior year.

Finally, the students must show a 0.5 improvement in their GPA compared to their cumulative grade point average during their first three years of school.

The goal of the scholarship program is to give students a chance at finishing their high school career with a bang, giving them hope for a brighter future.

About 50 students at New Richmond High School started the STRIVE process in the fall. Montello said he hopes six to 10 of the students will eventually complete the requirements of the program and receive a scholarship to help further their education. All students who complete the requirements will receive some scholarship funding, but a few of the top achievers will be selected to receive a larger portion of the Rotary scholarship pot.

Since its beginnings, the Rotary Club's STRIVE program has awarded about 60 scholarships to students in New Richmond and Somerset.

Because the annual Art & Culinary Show is the major fund raiser for STRIVE, Montello said ticket buyers, artists and culinary experts are eager to get behind the event.

Tickets for the Art & Culinary Show are available for purchase at Ready Randy's, The Deerfield and The SPACE. Tickets for the event are $40.

Participating culinary artists include Ready Randy's Sports Bar and Grill, Bellarietta Bistro, Brothers Texas Pit, Star Prairie Trout Farm, New Richmond Family Restaurant, Parkside Restaurant and Bar, Joseph's Family Restaurant, Hammond Hotel, Family Fresh Market, Bean Bag Coffee House, The Cake Lady and Acapulco.

Participating artists include Bill Buell, Judy Paulson, Carol Jones, David Johnson, Connie E. Burch, Judy Markgren, Marsie Danielson, Lauren Edwards, Sarah Dudgeon, Gail Dalzell, Susan Davis, Karla Faith Ness, Allie Ness, Signe Shores, Paul Oman, Christy Schwartz, Michael Farrell and Bridget Foust.

The evening includes numerous recipe samples, cooking demonstrations, entertainment, spirits tasting, along with silent and live auctions of artwork.