For the first time in its history, the Montecito Hope Ranch Republican Women’s Club gave its annual scholarship award to a Democrat. John Dana Stuster, a senior at Santa Barbara High School, was announced recipient of the Margaret Straight Scholarship at a luncheon held last month at the Montecito Country Club.

Robyn Palmquist, Scholarship Committee chair, says she was impressed with Stuster from the start. “He personally called me to set up a time to drop off his essay. When he arrived with it in hand, he was professionally dressed and conducted himself in an exemplary fashion,” Palmquist says. “Not to mention that his essay on the U.S. Constitution was outstanding. I am sure that he will be successful at UC Davis (where he’ll attend this fall) and his chosen career.”

The club has a tradition of awarding three scholarships to qualifying students annually. One scholarship is awarded to a Westmont College student (September award), a UCSB student (May award) and a Santa Barbara High Student (May award). Awards are based on scholarship, leadership, goals and the applicant’s support of Republican Party politics and missions.

The competition for scholarship in this category also includes a written composition. The topic of the essay this year was the United States Constitution.

Stuster says he was interested in the essay topic, but asserted he was committed to not compromising his beliefs just to win the competition. “I entered knowing very well that my views rode the fine line as I discussed being open to amending the U.S. Constitution and the Fifth Amendment Laws,” says Stuster, who finished high school with a 4.36 GPA. “My winning the contest reminds me that there is a common ground between all political parties, and a respect for each others’ opinions that is important, and in such a partisan time, is overlooked.”

Stuster says his favorite subjects are American history, political science and English. He credits his parents for setting the standard and expectation that he work for success.

The UCSB Winner was Timothy Cully, who garnered the Eric Villanueva Scholarship. Cully is the newly elected president of the UCSB chapter of College Republicans and has been a member of the club for three years. Majoring in business economics with a 4.0 GPA, Cully says he’s reviewing his options for a Masters Degree.

In September, Brandon Vowinkle, Westmont College winner of the Gertrude Calden Scholarship, will receive his award. A sophomore at Westmont with a 3.31 GPA, Vowinkle has a double major in business economics and political science. Vowinkle, who is from Texas, worked in the voting precincts here during the last presidential election. He is also president of the Westmont College Republicans and a Young Life Leader at Goleta Valley Middle School.

Goodbye Jody Knoell

June 9 represented the last day working on Coast Village Road for Jody Knoell, the ever smiling face at Santa Barbara Bank and Trust who headed to the bank’s Goleta branch to become bank manager.

Knoell, former vice president and customer service manager at the Coast Village branch, worked that post for 10 years. Her replacement is Stacie Ramirez, who’s been with Santa Barbara Bank & Trust for six years.

“Thank you all, my time here at the bank has been special because of you,” Knoell told colleagues and friends recently. “Thank you for the pleasure of providing banking services to such an outstanding community; the friendships and liaisons that we have established over all these past ten years, I do treasure.”

Moments later, Knoell expressed confidence in her successor. “While I understand that transitions in management may not be easy for everyone, my replacement, Ms Stacie Ramirez, will deliver the same quality of services you are accustomed to receiving,” Knoell said.

To those who know her, Knoell has a gift for knowing every customer’s first name and a little bit about their lives. She told me during a recent interview at the bank that customer service and relationships are her primary goals and concerns. While we spoke, I noticed that every customer who came in was sad to know she was leaving. Fighting back tears Knoell comforted them, saying, “Hey, come up to Goleta and say hi.”

The new bank manager, Ramirez, who spent two years as bank manager of Santa Barbara Bank & Trust’s Camino Real Market Place, says she knows she has huge shoes to fill, but maintains she’s stepping into the position with confidence.

“I know my job and will be out there meeting all the customers,” she says. “My goal is to know all the clients and build a rapport with them and my employees.”

Cold Spring at iMadonnari XX

On Memorial Day weekend, the plaza of the Old Mission saw a new group of artists on its paved canvas. Indeed, they were young, enthusiastic and had a most experienced art master guiding their every chalk stroke.

The newly famed artists were from Ms Seeple’s second grade Cold Spring School class, who joined in the chalking at the 20th annual iMadonnari Festival.

Their Master was Sean McCue, who participated in the first iMadonnari Festival with renowned street painter, Kurt Wenner, in 1987 when McCue was just a high school kid.

Students were Nina McCue (Sean’s daughter), Willow Moseley, Marlon Godlis, James Gordon, Siena Speirs, Bodhi Kroft and Katie Jane Hodson. Parents assisting the children were Sean’s wife, Isabel McCue, and his parents, Dan and Sue McCue, David and Gisele Moseley, Linda Godlis, Karen Cail, James Gordon (the father), Ginny Speirs, Jeanne Kruft, and Steve and Rebecca Hodson.

The students’ participation came when Sue McCue, a former Santa Barbara Zoo employee, received a call from her old boss regarding the zoo’s entry in the festival. They were looking for a group of children to do the drawing and McCue suggested her granddaughter’s second grade class.

For the works of chalk, Sean McCue drew the outline and the children filled in the colors. He also contributed his own chalk to the children and the festival provided other supplies.

Santa Barbara’s iMadonnari, the first street painting festival in North America, began in 1987, founded by executive director Kathy Koury as a fundraiser for the Children’s Creative Project. Every year, the project provides visual and performing arts workshops and performances presented by professional artists for students in 150 schools.

Laguna’s First Grade Picnic

On June 6, Linda Muzinich’s first grade Lower Laguna class held a year-end “Charlotte's Web” party on the school campus to celebrate the students’ reading of the E. B. White book.

The kids came to school dressed as characters in the book as they enjoyed a water balloon toss, a piñata challenge, dunking for apples, a watermelon seed spitting contest, relay races and ice cream, popcorn, brownies and other sweets.

The students at the picnic were Chadd Alef, Nathan Anter, Alex Barschat, Michael Carrillo, Zadkiel Castañeda, Jennifer Coleman, James Daugherty, Jason Feinberg, Sophie Kamhi, Lillian Perlmutter, Ruby Trejo and Rileigh Wullbrandt.

Parent helpers were Polly Coleman, Leslee Wullbrandt, Alex Daugherty and Joan Kreiss.