Vargas scholarships awarded at BHS

Vargas scholarships awarded at BHSFernando Vargas (center) and Holly Hodgson (to his right) hand out scholarships in memory of Ann-Marie Vargas to (from left) Emma Gilmartin, Monique Negrette and (far right) Sarah Bartels. — Photo by Bryce Amster



News Review Staff Writer

Beloved Burroughs High School art teacher Ann-Marie Vargas, who died unexpectedly in December, was memorialized at BHS with the establishment of a scholarship — awarded to three graduating seniors in a Monday evening ceremony.

Monique Negrette, Emma Gilmartin and Sarah Bartels were awarded $200 scholarships to help fund their pursuit of the arts in higher education.

“This scholarship was created to support and strengthen students in the studies of fine arts, to reward gifted and self-motivated art students — students, that as my late wife did, have a deep passion for art,” Fernando Vargas told the recipients.

He added that the award also recognizes good conduct, mentorship and compassion exercised by students.

“Those qualities are what this scholarship stands for. All three of these recipients clearly possess these and would have made Mrs. Vargas proud. In fact, she knew all three of you well, and so she was very proud of you.”

On hand to help present the scholarships was Holly Hodgson, a friend and colleague of Ann-Marie’s.

“Monique was very close to Ann-Marie,” said Hodgson. “Ann-Marie encouraged her to develop her innate artistic ability. Monique shared with us that she would try to throw away her projects, but Ann-Marie would pull them from the trash and insist she work through the process.

“She grew so much as an artist and developed her self-confidence under Ann Marie’s guidance. I believe Monique will be the first in her family to earn a high school diploma.”

Emma is the first student at Burroughs to complete both the advanced-placement drawing portfolio and the 3-D design portfolio.

“This is quite an accomplishment. Emma is an outstanding artist and student,” said Hodgson. “Emma is inspired to pursue art as a career because of the positive community and collaboration she experienced with teachers and students in all four years of taking visual art at Burroughs.”

Hodgson said that although Sarah is not one of her students, “she is a very hardworking, determined and ambitious student.” Sarah has excelled in virtually every discipline during her academic career, earning distinction as a musician, a scholar, an artist and a member of the award-winning robotics team.

Vargas said that the magnificent work and model citizenship of the recipients sets a high bar for the scholarship.

He and his family established the scholarship to continue the legacy Amm-Marie established in the BHS Art Department, as well as with every other endeavor she contributed to.

“She was very intuitive, kind, generous, yet judicious and hated the spotlight,” Vargas said.

He said that if you look at the definition of legacy — genuinely grounding yourself and making a meaningful, lasting contribution by serving a cause greater than your own — it perfectly reflects Ann-Marie’s.

“She loved her art discipline and shared all that she could with her students, colleagues, church and community,” he said.

As a teacher, she constantly gave of herself. “She did this with her time, talent and very often her treasure. She had a glass-half-full personality and everyone had value in her eyes, regardless of religious, racial, socioeconomic or political differences. She did not tolerate ignorance, but she could educate and inform without being derisive in any way.

“Even though her physical self is no longer with us in this realm, the ripples from that core self that she left for us still remind us that the giving of ourselves to the service of others, to giving back, has the utmost value,” he said.

“There are many good folk in our small community who are just like this. I see examples of it every day. Nonetheless, more of us should do the same. We can never have enough.”

Next year the scholarship will be administered through the Desert Area Teachers Association, which can also accept private donations. “My goal is to maintain it at three recipients per year, but increase the scholarship amount to $500 each, plus have some in reserves to continue the scholarship indefinitely.”

Story First Published: 2018-05-25