From left to right: Brock Lopez, Strawberry Crest High School; Adison Roman, Armwood High School; and Ariana Roman, Armwood High School.
Ashton Kitchiner, Newsome High School, and Ashley Johnson, Newsome High School.

By Linda Chion

The Community Roundtable this year awarded $2,000 scholarships to five seniors representing three area schools, a record-breaking $10,000 total for the annual awards program.

Twins Adison and Ariana Roman, now at the University of South Florida, received their scholarships as graduates of Armwood High in Seffner.

From Newsome High School in Lithia, Ashley Johnson and Ashton Kitchiner were both recognized, with Kitchiner earning the award for scholar-athlete. Both Newsome High graduates attend the University of Florida.

The fifth recipient is Brock Lopez, a freshman at North Carolina State University and a graduate of Strawberry Crest High School in Dover.

“Due to the large number of highly qualified applicants, the selection process was very difficult this year,” said Lisa Rodriguez, treasurer of the Community Roundtable and a past honorary mayor of Brandon. “Roundtable officers awarded the scholarships to the recipients at their respective high school award ceremonies so they could receive them in front of family, friends and peers. We wish each of these outstanding students a very successful college career.”

The Community Roundtable scholarship program, chaired by Shearon Bailey, is held annually with a spring deadline and an application form that stresses community service.

Billing itself as “the chamber of charities of Greater Brandon,” the “number one criteria for scholarship selection is a student’s volunteer hours earned during their high school years,” Rodriguez said. “Each applicant must write an essay about their experiences serving others in the community, provide the number of hours served and their grade-point average and briefly explain their future plans.”

Founded more than 60 years ago as the Presidents’ Roundtable of Greater Brandon, the Community Roundtable serves and promotes area nonprofit organizations. The all-volunteer roundtable has presented the Greater Brandon Fourth of July Parade since the late 1950s. It also holds the annual race for honorary mayor of Brandon, with the title going to the candidate who raises the most money for their selected charities.

Information about the 2023 race and parade will be updated online at www.thecommunityroundtable.org. Scholarship applications will be available online in the early spring, and also in high school guidance offices. For more information, call the roundtable at 813-661-4350.

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