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The Georgie Smigel Group at Coldwell Banker Scholarship Award Program

Finalist Essay entries for the 2022 scholarship award program

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Essay #1

When I was in second grade I moved to Cranberry Township from Cincinnati, Ohio. I was only around seven years old at the time, but could understand how welcomed my family was by our community. Due to my father’s job, we were relocated to West Virginia where we lived for seven years. However, we were once again transferred to the Pittsburgh area in 2018. My parents loved this community so much that they decided to move back to Cranberry Township. By this time, I was finishing my eighth-grade year and attended what is now Ryan Gloyer Middle School. Ever since my first day, I felt an overwhelming feeling of welcomeness. Within my first few days I realized a huge difference in Seneca Valley compared to my previous school, everyone seemed to respect each other and get along. Even the teachers were eager to help and give me direction when needed. When school ended for the year, my summer was spent renovating our new house we had moved into. Due to not staying in one place too long for most of my life, I never knew what it was like to have a group-like friendship between neighbors and those who live around you. During this summer, my neighbors offered help wherever they could. This gave me and my parents a true sense of community. People coming together, not only to help one another, but to build positive relationships as well. 

I truly got involved in the community when I started attending tennis summer camps held by Seneca Valley. I met people who I would be going to school with the upcoming year, and who would eventually still be my friends to this day during my senior year Tennis was not only a hobby, but it became a community between players since we would see each other almost every day. Attending tennis camps during the summer helped me form connections between my new peers. 

Joining the tennis team made my transition into high school smooth. I had made a lot of friends already, and hardly felt as if I only moved a few months prior. Aside from my peers making me feel involved, I also felt support from teachers. Since there are so many students who attend Seneca Valley, it may seem as if teachers can not have the ability to give one individual student a decent amount of attention. However, throughout my years at Seneca Valley my teachers have offered their upmost support to me. Thanks to the support I have received from the district, I am confident in pursuing whatever I wish in my future and being successful. I believe that if I did not move back to Pennsylvania, I would not have the same opportunities that have been accessible through Seneca Valley. This school has been the most important community in my life, and I will take what I learned with me through the rest of my life. 

Essay #2

 To define Cranberry Township words such as inviting, welcoming, and accepting would be a must. The apathetic neighbor and distanced acquaintance are nonexistent here. There is a widespread sense of community that radiates throughout the entire township. A sense of belonging and kinship are naturally occurring. There is a never-ending list of things to do from the competition filled Cranberry Community Chase 5K run, to the carnival and fried food filled Community Days, to the lively Bamboo Bar at North Park Lounge. I love my community for the relationships it’s enabled me to make and the sense of home that it has instilled in me. No matter how far I go, I know at the end of the day there’s no place like home. I feel inspired to be the best version of myself when in this community. I have been given the space to grow into the person I am today because of the supportive and encouraging community members. My neighbors aren’t disengaged or hostile, but friendly and genuine. I never feel unwelcome or unwanted. To live in Cranberry Township is to live in a community-oriented family and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

Essay #3

I have lived in Zelienople my entire life, and I could not wish for a better place to have grown up in. I love my community and school for the impact they have made on my life and the benefits they have offered me. Not only have I made life long friends in my community and earned a stellar education at my school, I have also had countless opportunities to explore new things outside of academics.

My community has offered me friendships and opportunities through the countless organizations that operate within Zelienople, a sense of belonging when participating in annual parades and festivals, and joy when I walk up and down Mainstreet and see everything the small businesses have to offer. In addition, I have received help with the cost of post-secondary education through not only a Rotarian scholarship, but also the local VFW. I could go on for many pages about the benefits I have reaped from living the community that I do.

Not only have I benefited immensely from my community, but also from my school. Seneca Valley offers more programs that many small colleges do, and I could not be more grateful. The teachers and administrators have also been instrumental in educational career and search for what I want to pursue in life. Through these fantastic programs and the exceptional teachers, I have been able to do everything from teach as a field student in one of the elementary schools to becoming the principle trombonist in the PMEA all-state band.

My school and community have had such an impact on my life that I am certain I would not be where I am today without everything they have given me. I am convinced that there are no better people in the world than those that I have met in my community and my school. Without them, I would not have grown in myself and in my talents as much as I have now. In addition, the people who created such amazing opportunities for me in my community and the school have shaped my strengths and guided me towards where I am today. The impact my school and community has had on me can be described in the other way than essential to the person I will become.

I have no other description of my feeling towards my school and community than something that I love and am grateful for. I love living here because of the people, the resources, and the excellence of both. I could wish for no better place to live.

Essay #4

When I moved to Cranberry Township in 2015, I was thrilled for a new start.  However, being a person of color, moving from Penn Hills to Cranberry was also a major change.  Everything about Cranberry was different for me, which was kind of scary to be honest.  When my family and I initially moved into our home, we were immediately greeted by our neighbors.  Everyone was extremely welcoming; they made us feel at home. Anytime you are driving through a Cranberry neighborhood, someone will always wave to you even if you have never seen them before. Within the community, there occasionally are block parties and food truck days, all in effort to ensure continuity and inclusivity. In Penn Hills, I never experienced anything like this. The belongingness in my neighborhood is unmatched, and will never be taken for granted. 

In addition to the move, I was also changing school districts.  Seneca Valley is an exceptionally large school district, and being the “new girl” at the start of freshman year was terrifying.  Needless to say, I made immediate friends.  The students at school were just as embracing as our neighbors.  Fortunately for me, Seneca offers a phenomenal dance program that is intertwined into the daily curriculum.  I have been a dancer my entire life, and having the opportunity to continue my training in addition to fulfilling my academic obligations was priceless.  

Given that both of my parents work full-time, I was resigned to riding the school bus back and forth to school.  There was rarely a day that one of our neighbors didn’t offer me a ride to my house, many of whom I had never even met.  Just the thoughtful and caring gesture meant more to me than they will ever know.  Everyone is always there for each other, which makes each family feel safe.  Speaking of safety, in Butler County, Cranberry Township is ranked 2nd for being the safest township.  You rarely hear about any crime or theft taking place in Cranberry on the news. This is surprising considering we have so many restaurants and shopping plazas. 

I am so grateful to be a part of such a positive and courteous community. It has shaped me to be a more kindhearted person. I hope my experience living in Butler County has informed you on why it is such a great neighborhood. 

Essay #5

I still remember the feeling that fell over the crowd as the lamps began to illuminate. One by one, they flickered to life, symbolizing all those that had fought against Leukemia. I looked over to my mom with pride in my heart as she flicked hers to life, showing the world that she is a strong warrior in her battle against cancer. As I observed the loving crowds surrounding me, it struck me once more how important giving back to the community is. Volunteering for causes such as Light the Night is not new to me. I have been a proud participant of the Relay for Life for the past five years, raising thousands of dollars for the American Cancer Society. Supporting those around me is a fundamental part of my character and an aspect that will certainly follow me to college. Growing up dedicated to community service has changed me in many positive ways that I can now share with others. It has supplied me with exuberance and patience, allowing me to engage better with those around me in a more thoughtful manner. This level of reflection has given me more empathy for individual struggles, serving as a driving point for my passion for helping others. 

I wish to take these skills and apply them to my future in college, and beyond that, career. Majoring in English, I hope to educate and inspire readers and students, the same way community service inspired me, through the lesson empathy and understanding provides. I hope to mature the outlook of my audience and supply them with a greater understanding of those marginalized by society. By understanding minorities’ struggles, you see them as individuals and not stereotypes. This is the direction I want to take my writing: to seek out change within people and eventually inspire people to help those less fortunate. By doing this, I hope to open the minds and hearts of a new generation of readers and citizens to create a change that will better the world through my novels. That is what I hope this scholarship will help me achieve. This opportunity will relieve some of the financial burden that would otherwise prohibit me from flourishing in this dream of mine. I have no doubt that the Coldwell Banker Scholarship will help me apply my passion for writing to better serve my community and one day reduce the disparities in the world.  

Essay #6

Cranberry Township is more than just a place. It is a community, better stated, it is my home. I have had the privilege of growing up in Cranberry for the past eighteen years and can confidently say that I would not change a thing. Living in the Cranberry community has provided me with countless opportunities, and I’ve had support from many members of this community. The people and my fellow neighbors are one of my favorite parts. This community has grown exponentially over the past decade, yet there is still that small town feel which brings comfort. There is a friendly, positive vibe across my community and with neighboring areas such as Zelienople, Mars, and Evans City. I attribute my community’s uplifting and encouraging atmosphere to my growth as a person, student, and athlete. Aside from the people, the numerous parks, playgrounds, and community waterpark that Cranberry offers are home to some of my greatest childhood memories. As a child I would spend my summers at the Cranberry Township Waterpark, and now I am even lucky enough to work there! 

Cranberry Township has impacted my life in numerous ways. It has provided me with a safe environment where I am able to fulfill my goals and reach my greatest potential. My school district, Seneca Valley, has introduced me to some of the most incredible teachers and coaches whom many of them I’ve considered to be mentors to this day. Personally, I feel Seneca is very unique in the fact that it has students from different communities coming together to form one. Seneca Valley is a community within itself and I would not have traded my experience there for the world. The teachers at Seneca Valley want to see their students thrive and they’ve challenged us in and outside of the classroom. Seneca Valley also has given me endless opportunities to get involved and has prepared me for success in my future endeavors. There is a club, sport, and group for everyone, no matter what interests you. Thanks to my incredible school community, I am now heading to Penn State University’s Smeal College of Business and dancing as a member of the Penn State Lionettes Dance Team. 

There are plenty of benefits to living in the Cranberry Township area. There is easy access to Route 19, Interstate 79, and the PA Turnpike making weekend getaways for tournaments, competitions, or even just a quick vacation with friends or family extremely easy and accessible. The shopping and restaurant scene gives everyone in the community something they are looking for. Downtown Pittsburgh is a quick 30-minute drive, easy for people who work in the city. I have many friends from different school districts and towns near me. Living in Cranberry has made it easy to meet up with my friends from other areas whenever I desire. In fact, Cranberry is the place where my friends from neighboring communities come to gather because of all there is to do! There are so many reasons why I love Cranberry Township and because of those reasons, my community is something I will forever be grateful for. 

Essay #7

When I hear the word community I don’t just think of my neighborhood or town but the entire surrounding area. From the city to the suburbs, I know I have a diverse group of people from all walks of life that are ready to help and support. I have witnessed countless member of my community take it upon themselves to help others in anything from showing up to senior project activities to attending charity events. 

While my family was going through a hard time after the death of my father to Pancreatic Cancer, we were met with nothing but love and support. We had homemade meals to last us weeks, people to drive my brother and I to practices, and endless people to check in. Now, years later, hundreds of family, friends, teachers and strangers show up to an annual fundraiser for Pancreatic cancer, to help fight for a cure for something that may not directly affect them. Everyone has taught me the importance of giving and without this kind of care, I may not have become the strong, resilient, and independent young woman that I am today. 

Throughout my high school career, it has been clear to me that being on a team is one of the best ways to have a real impact and connect with others. I have played lacrosse, hockey, and been in several clubs that have given me the kind of support that I needed while also being able to provide that for others. Now that I will be graduating, I find myself wondering where my place is in the world but after witnessing the congregation of strangers to fight a common enemy for my family, I know I will fit right in.

 Unfamiliar people, with lives I know nothing about have given me the opportunity to be apart of something bigger than just myself, apart of a team. I have been shown tremendous compassion and friendship by everyone here and hope to contribute to the future of this community to create that same environment for others. Although this place may not always be where I live, it will always be home and I am proud be a member of this community. 

Essay #8 (Honorable Mention, Unfortunately Submitted Past Deadline – Not Eligible for Scholarship)

Cranberry Township has many opportunities for children and teens. When younger, I was able to play tball, then softball, and soccer, gymnastics, dance, swimming and Tae-Kwon-Do. It was valuable to have
so many options to try. Of those, I played soccer until I was 12 and continued with Tae-Kwon-Do under
Grand Master Zang, becoming a Master (4th degree Black Belt). We are fortunate to have a community
that allows kids to explore opportunities and decided what they like best. In the early years, sports are
for fun and learning to love and not super competitive.

Cranberry Township also has many opportunities for the Community to support one another. There is
the Cranberry CUP which every year helps a family in need. However, my favorite organization is one
that I have been part of since I was eleven – The Miracle League. Over the years, I have been a “Buddy”
to several children, but in the past few years to one boy who loves to play baseball. We play toss in the
field and I can barely keep up with him running the bases. This league is very good for the morale of
those with physical and mental disabilities. These kids appreciate the little things in life that often times
other kids would not. For me, it is great to be able to see how these kids, who have much more difficult
lives than I do, still do enjoy life. To be a part of that is one of the best Cranberry Township experiences.

I have attended Seneca Valley School District since Kindergarten. SV has allowed me to grow
academically through many challenging classes and has prepared me very well for college. Some of the
best classed that have done this are AP Government, AP Physics, AP Chemistry, Argument and AP
Calculus AB and BC, although there were many other classes that I took that were great preparation. In
addition, SV has allowed me to be part of the award winning marching band and part of clubs such as
SHOUT and Gender and Sexuality Advocacy Club (GSA). In addition to being academically prepared for
the next phase of life, it is very important to value inclusivity and appreciate others regardless of who
they are. My mission as an officer of GSA is to make sure that all students feel safe in our school and to
end bullying that has caused issues for our student body.

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