TOPSAIL BEACH – In a celebration of student achievement, the Historical Society of Topsail Island awarded Ashley Spillane, Richard Baker, Emily Korenek, and George Horiates III scholarships.

The four students, hailing from Topsail and Dixon high schools, chose a historical event which occurred in Onslow or Pender counties.

The students presented their projects during the April 14 Historical Society of Topsail Island luncheon meeting.

Richard Baker, the son of Barbara Baker Hazle, Link Baker and stepfather Scott Hazle, is a senior at Topsail High School. He wrote a poem entitled “A Tale of Two Sisters.”  The poem featured two sisters, Bertha and Fran, who wreaked havoc along the Carolina Coast. He researched the storms and presented information prior to reading his original poem to the historical society.

Richard has been accepted at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and he intends to study biomedical engineering.

George Horiates III, the son of Mary and Angelo Horiates, is first in his graduating class at Dixon High School. He gave a PowerPoint  presentation about Operation Bumblebee. A resident of Holly Ridge, George focused his research on how the military shaped the community of Greater Topsail.

George has been accepted by West Point and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. He wants to study biology.

Emily Korenek, a Dixon High School senior, has overcome many obstacles her life, including pediatric cancer. The daughter of CJ and Martin Korenek, Emily intends to study nursing at Campbell University.

She presented her essay in a PowerPoint presentation about Yopp’s Meeting House, a structure located near the back gate of Camp Lejeune.

“I drive by this every day,” she said.

In her research she touched upon history of Sneads Ferry, established in 1725. Yopp’s Meeting House is the oldest standing building in Sneads Ferry. It was also known as Yopp’s Primative Baptist Church, hence its “Plain Jane” style. The meeting house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999 and a non-profit group has formed to restore, preserve and maintain the historic building. She also noted the cemetery at the meeting house is quite historic with graves dating back to 1844 and 1842.

Ashley Spillane, a senior at Topsail High School created original artwork entitled “Sunrise over Moores Creek Bridge,” in which she depicted the morning light following the battle. She incorporated historical features in the art, including a Scottish Highlander and the canon Mother Covington. She also noted boards missing from the bridge and the decoy Patriot Caswell camp.

“I used colored pencil and a textured paper to give an effect of bark on a tree,” she said. “I wanted the finished piece to have a blurred-look because we’re looking back through a blurred lens of time.”

Ashley is the daughter of Richard and Dana Spillane.

Virginia Teachey, the chair of the education/scholarship committee said these four students’ works were selected from 16 applicants. She said she and the committee were impressed by the academics, extra-curricular activities, and work of the seniors.

“The selection process is totally blind,” said Teachey.

The committee members do not know the names of the students applying, she said.

“The Education Committee of the Historical Society of Topsail Island evaluates each scholarship entry using a ‘blind entry’ scoring rubric.”

Historical Society of Topsail Island scholarships are awarded on several criteria, said Teachey. Students must have above a 3.0 grade point average, student activities, and original essays or art.

“Applicants must choose a historical event which occurred in Onslow or Pender counties,” said Teachey.

Students present their selected historical event in a written essay of at least 500 words, or in an original piece of visual art, or through an original song or an original piece of poetry, said Teachey, adding that the student’s work must demonstrate a complete understanding of the event and its historical importance. Essays and student work are judged on accuracy, the organization of the material, and the creativity and originality of the presentation.