Powell scholarship awarded to 2 KHS graduates

Staff Writer
Mineral Daily News-Tribune
Scholarship recipients are congratulated by Sara Janene Powell's family. Pictured are: (l-r) Molly Kephart, Sheila Powell (Sara's mother), Eli Kesner, and Hunter Powell (Sara's brother).

For the News Tribune

KEYSER - The family of Sara Janene Powell have honored her memory by establishing a scholarship fund in her name.

The Sara Janene Powell Beyond the Barre Inspirational Scholarship was created to provide an opportunity for a student at Keyser High School who has demonstrated the principles and achieved the accolades as those of Sara, to further their education through the assistance of a scholarship.

Sara began taking piano lessons and ballet lessons when she was 6 years old. She was a four-year member of the Keyser High School marching and concert bands. She danced for ten years at East Pointe Ballet before opening her own ballet studio, Inspirations Dance Academy Beyond the Barre. She sang in her church choir and played in the bell choir. Her love for the performing arts was evident in all of her extra-curricular activities.

Sara passed away suddenly on May 3, 2016. It was her senior year. Sara was a dedicated student who strived to always maintain a straight “A” average despite facing countless obstacles and personal challenges. She was an inspiration and touched the lives of countless students at Keyser High School as well as others in Mineral County.

It is the intention of the committee to award two scholarships each academic year to two different recipients. This year each recipient will receive a $1,000 scholarship.

The first scholarship recipient, Molly Kephart, is the daughter of Dale and Peggy Kephart. She is a 2020 graduate of Keyser High School and plans to attend WVU Potomac State College.

Molly wrote in her application essay, “I had the privilege of knowing Sara and dancing with her. She brought so much joy to the ballet studio, and she always made everyone smile. I believe that seeing how much courage Sara had throughout fighting her battle, gave me courage to never give up. If I want to do something, I should never back down because it’s challenging.

“Sara brought such a light to everyone; her courage, her faith, and her perseverance let everyone see how beautiful of a person she was. Thank you, Sara, for inspiring me to not give up on my goals and showing me how to inspire others the same way you inspired me.”

The second scholarship recipient, Eli Kesner, is the son of Mark and Samantha Kesner. He is a 2020 graduate of Keyser High School and plans to attend WVU Potomac State College.

Eli wrote in his essay, “I never personally knew Sara. I knew who she was and what she looked like and that she liked band and ballet. However, every time I saw her she always seemed to wear a smile on her face.

“Despite her medical condition, she never let it stand in her way for what she believed. Her heart was always full of joy, and she didn’t seem to have any enemies because she was loved by all, even the ones she didn’t personally know.”

Sara’s family and friends established this scholarship in Sara’s memory four years ago. When Sara passed away at the end of her senior year, she was going to graduate in the top of her class. She had earned many scholarships. Her parents remember how excited she was to be receiving so many recognitions for her hard work.

So far nine Keyser High School students have been awarded $1,000 scholarships in memory of Sara, bringing the family’s total giving to $9,000.

“We appreciate everyone’s assistance in continuing to help us fund this worthwhile scholarship,” said a spokesperson for the family.

Karen Smith, aunt of Sara Janene Powell, presents The Sara Janene Powell Beyond the Barre Inspirational Scholarship to Eli Kesner.