By Matt Wiley
In a room full of “suits,” business men and women sit and listen as the group’s president addresses them, before a check for thousands of dollars is donated to a specific fund. It sounds like the scene inside a Wall Street boardroom, but it’s actually two student clubs meeting inside the media center at Liberty Middle School, located off of Commerce Park Blvd. in Tampa Palms.
On December 17, Liberty’s Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) club and National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) together presented a giant $6,000 check to the Calyx & Beau Schenecker Memorial Fund, a scholarship program that helps to provide leadership, athletic and arts opportunities to promising teenagers across the Tampa Bay area.
Col. Parker Schenecker set up the fund in honor of his two late children, Calyx & Beau, who were tragically killed in 2011. He and the children’s grandmother, Nancy Schenecker, were honored as special guests at the check-presentation ceremony at the school.
This year marks the second donation that the Liberty Middle School organizations have made to the fund. Last year, the two groups donated $4,000.
“We worked hard and we not only achieved our goal of $5,000, we surpassed it,” said Liberty FBLA president Lamine Diagne. “We raised $6,000, and, in addition to that, Nancy Schenecker matched our amount, for a total donation of $12,000.”
Diagne explained that FBLA decided to raise funds for the scholarship as the group’s community service project for the year, and partnered with NJHS.
“We chose this project because it really means something to us,” Diagne said. “This fund offers opportunities. It gives people a chance they otherwise would not have had to pursue their dreams.”
Col. Schenecker explained that the scholarship fund already has helped fund scholarships to Hillsborough Community College and will fund a high school art contest named after Calyx that will run in April, in which high school artists will submit their artwork for judging. The winners will receive scholarships to use toward furthering their education. Some of the money also has been used to help pay dues to participate in local soccer clubs for kids who may not have been able to afford to play.
Beau Schenecker, 13, also was a member of Liberty’s FBLA, what his father describes as one of Beau’s favorite parts of attending Liberty (in addition to playing soccer). Calyx, 16, was an International Baccalaureate (IB) student, artist and cross-country runner at King High on N. 56th St. in the Temple Terrace area.
To raise money, Liberty’s FBLA and NJHS members sold 980 orders of cookie dough around the community, enough to make more than 47,000 cookies.
“We are eternally grateful to each of you for continuing to show your love and compassion to (Calyx and Beau), who were members of your ranks,” said Col. Schenecker as he accepted the check. “My hat is off to you. I’m both personally and professionally indebted to all of you.”
A round of applause filled the room as members of the two groups tore the wrapping paper off the oversized check and posed for pictures with Col. Schenecker, who presented the group with another check for $6,000 to put into the fund.
The two donations put the total amount raised by the Schenecker Memorial Fund at about $92,000.
Col. Schenecker explained that he and Nancy decided to match what the students raised to honor the kids that were honoring Calyx and Beau.
“Calyx and Beau are Tampa kids,” Schenecker said. “It’s great to see a community like this continue to support great efforts like ours. Tampa’s a great, philanthropic community, and we’re just a part of that: giving back to the community.”