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AYER/SHIRLEY — Business as usual is important, but because the business of the school board is education, and all about students, members agreed it would be both informative and inspirational to showcase student achievements as an agenda item during meetings.

With an ongoing playbill that has ranged from classroom projects to extra-curriculars to individual student activities, the showcase at the most recent ASRSD School Committee meeting spotlighted two students on the day after school closed for summer vacation.

Ayer-Shirley Regional High School student Hannah Levensailor, of Ayer, who will be a senior in the fall, was recently awarded a college scholarship, Christian A. Herter Memorial Scholarship.

Ayer-Shirley Middle School student and Ayer resident Bryce Valliere is a newly-minted sixth grader who won a statewide essay contest.

Both students showed up to showcase their awards.

Bryce read his essay aloud. It was about a different kind of green initiative. His title posed the question: Why is it important to save money?

“I like toys, but toys cost money,” he wrote. “If you save money you can buy toys.”

Plus a lot of other things.

The essay listed items money might be saved up for, including basic needs such as food, water, clothes and shelter and “good colleges, such as Yale.”

Healthy food costs more than junk food, he said. “Did you know …” that medium fries at McDonalds cost less than a head of lettuce at the supermarket? Emergencies, too, can call for savings. “If your house burns down, you need money to repair it.”

“Some goals in life cost money,” too. Donations to charities, hospitals or to help the environment, for example.

“If you save money, you can buy something nice in the future.” Bryce continued. Even a job can cost money, he said. “Some jobs require paying, but usually you get paid.”

The kicker was in his closer. “Like my mother always says, ‘almost nothing in life is free,’ so you need money,” he continued. His conclusion: “So, what should you do with money you receive? You should save it!”

Asked where he keeps money he has saved, Bryce thought a second before answering. “In my wallet,” he said.

Hannah brought along her Christian A. Herter Memorial Scholarship award certificate and a government citation she received from the House of Representatives at the State House in Boston.

State Rep. Sheila Harrington presented her with the award in Boston, she said, and she expects to get a similar citation from the Senate in the mail.

The scholarship will pay up to half of her tuition at any state college or university. Hannah said she’s eyeing Westfield State. Her first choice would be Boston University, “I know that’s tough,” she said.

With her entire senior year still ahead, she has time to prepare.

Asked about the application process, she said 320 students applied and she was one of 25 finalists.

Criteria included a description of hardships she’s overcome. The application she submitted had to be signed by her parents and included a financial statement, she said.

But the “big thing” was the essay, in which Hannah compared the challenges of running track in school to those faced in life.

The final phase was the interview, which her teachers helped her prepare for.

They put her through her paces, posed practice questions. No wise cracks, they advised. This was serious business. But it’s a safe bet that Hannah smiled. “They helped a lot,” she said. Mrs. Wittmier, who went with her to the interview; Ms Sweetland, Principal Brian Haas, Superintendent Carl Mock. “I feel like everyone at school helped,” she said.

Mock said it was “wonderful” to have two students honored “in such a small school system.” He didn’t add, and in the first year of a brand new region.

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