The Haxton twins hold up their scholarships beside their mother and brother.

By Anna Edlund

Four local high school seniors received college scholarships from the Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla (YMKG) Community Fund.

Choosing to donate $120,000 in college scholarships this year, YMKG conducted a thorough process to select 10 well-deserving high school students. Qualifications included academic success, extracurricular activities, athletic excellence and a financial need. By reviewing many applications and conducting in-person interviews, they were able to select the chosen few.

The four finalists residing in the local area are Sarah Fabel from Strawberry Crest High School, Westin Doud from Riverview High School, Caroline Haxton from Durant High School and Peyton Haxton from Durant High School.

Caroline and Peyton, twin sisters who both plan to attend the University of Florida, were selected out of their graduating class for their immense academic success and leadership. Each sister received a college scholarship worth $10,000, broken up into $2,500 per school year.

“I was very shocked, and honestly still am. I never expected that I would actually get the scholarship, despite having been a finalist,” shared Caroline as she put her feelings into words.

Unlike other scholarship announcements, YMKG creates a unique ‘invasion’ performance to personally deliver the news.

“Our school holds a ‘Diamond Awards’ Banquet for seniors, and they ‘invaded’ the ceremony in order to give us the scholarships. In true Gasparilla fashion, they were dressed up as pirates and came throwing beads,” recalled Peyton.

This event has occurred for the past 26 years, with the fund supplying students a total of $1,346,000 in college scholarship money. While being a fun and whimsical tradition that encapsulates the pirate theme of Gasparilla, this act is additionally changing lives dollar by dollar. Each scholarship awarded supports the education of the next generation to come.

“It definitely relieves a lot of stress. It will probably go towards paying for books, fees and other expenses that may arise,” said Caroline.

The process of searching and applying is often a lengthy one, but it can ultimately pay off in the end. With the large number of expenses that modernly hang over the heads of upcoming college students, scholarships can be a helpful tool.

“It’s definitely worth applying for the scholarship, even if you think it is unlikely you will get it, because you never know. Of the scholarships I applied for, including this one, I did not expect much to come from them,” said Caroline.

Explore social media and keep an eye out in the community for applicable scholarships such as this one.

For further information on the YMKG Community Fund, visit its website at

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