The Van Wert County Courthouse

Saturday, Jun. 12, 2021

Burenga, McMaster: ‘most self-reliant’

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

With the annual banquet again scrapped this year because of COVID-19, the Van Wert Service Club honored this year’s R.K. Thompson Self-Reliance Award finalists and announced the top winners during the club’s meeting Wednesday at Willow Bend Country Club.

Top winners for 2021 were Jamie Burenga, daughter of Thomas and Julie Burenga, and Peter McMaster, son of Matthew and Pamela McMaster.

Burenga, a senior at Van Wert High School, is involved in a number of school organizations and activities, including National Honor Society, Beta Club, Symphonic and Marching bands, and the girls’ tennis and swim teams. She is also a member of the First United Methodist Church youth group. R.K. Thompson finalists typically have jobs, and Burenga interned with The Kenn-Feld Group through VWHS’s Career Employment Opportunity (CEO) program, while also lifeguarding at the YMCA.

2021 R.K. Thompson Self-Reliance finalists and top winners include (seated, from the left) finalists Cole Gorman, Clayton Leeth, Jordan Hurless, and Killian Sudduth, and top boy winner Peter McMaster; (standing) finalist Sarah Thomas, top girl winner Jamie Burenga, and finalists Kassidy Ringwald, Elaina O’Neill, and Madison Langdon. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

YWCA Executive Director Kimberly Laudick, who is also a Service Club member and introduced the girl finalists, said Burenga’s definition of “self-reliance” is “creating opportunities for myself, being an agent for my education, and advocating for myself.”

Laudick noted that Burenga, who plans to major in chemical engineering and minor in either environmental engineering or sustainability at the University of Dayton, has also attended engineering camps during the summer because of her interest in a career in an engineering field.

Burenga’s teacher reference noted of her: “Jamie has a maturity surpassing most high school students. She has been a joy to have as a student. Jamie is often sought out as a team leader because of her work ethic, positive attitude, and perseverance to face the tough challenges.”

The other girl finalists were Lincolnview seniors Madison Langdon, Elaina O’Neill, and Kassidy Ringwald, and Crestview senior Sarah Thomas.

McMaster is a senior at Lincolnview and is a member of the school basketball team, National Honor Society, Scholastic Bowl team, is Beta Club and Science Club president, a team captain of Science Olympiad, and is also founder and president of the school Math Club.

In addition to his school activities, McMaster also volunteers with Charis House, the Van Wert County Humane Society animal shelter, KBA Basketball, and is a member of Calvary Evangelical Church.

He works at Subway in Van Wert.

Service Club member Mark Schumm, who introduced each of the boy finalists, said McMaster’s definition of “self-reliance” is “not an action or specific incidence, it is a mentality. To be self-reliant means you are not afraid to take risks or go outside your comfort zone. It means that you are confident enough in your abilities to bet on yourself in a situation, even when you do not know the outcome.”

A teacher noted of McMaster: “What has always impressed me about Peter is his ability to see all of the details of a problem or situation, as well as the implications of various decisions regarding that problem or situation. That is why I call him both a global and local thinker. He’s a very fun student to converse with, plus he is extremely bright without flaunting his intelligence. Peter pushed me to be a better teacher, which I will always appreciate.”

Following graduation, McMaster will attend a university majoring in astrophysics, with the goal of eventually earning a doctorate.

Other boy finalists include Lincolnview seniors Cole Gorman and Clayton Leeth, Van Wert senior Jordan Hurless, and Vantage senior Killian Sudduth.

Finalists earn a $500 scholarship, while the top girl and boy winners earn an additional $500 scholarship.

POSTED: 05/06/21 at 1:34 am. FILED UNDER: News