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By Marjorie Mader
Special to The Almanac
Brian Moran of Portola Valley, a student-athlete at Sacred Heart Prep, and Abigail Thornburg of Menlo Park, student-athlete at Castilleja School, are winners of the 2009 Chris Zider Scholarships.
Each receives a $15,000 scholarship that can be used for college, private high school tuition, or for other education-related expenses, such as taking a summer course on a college campus, during the next six years.
The annual scholarships are given in memory of Chris Zider, who grew up in Menlo Park and Portola Valley and was the oldest child of Bob and Cheryl Zider of Portola Valley. Chris died in a snowboarding accident at Lake Tahoe in 1992, when he was 15 and a sophomore at Woodside High School.
Besides their accomplishments in the classroom, on the playing fields, and in the community, "their love for their family comes across," said his mother, Cheryl Zider.
Brian Moran's big day came last fall when as a junior at Sacred Heart Prep he learned he had won a Zider Scholarship and received a full-football scholarship offer from Stanford University. Standing 6 feet, 7 inches tall, and weighing 300 pounds, Brian started playing varsity football at Sacred Heart on the offensive and defensive line his sophomore year.
He sings with The Singing Guys, an a cappella group at Sacred Heart, and volunteers at the Riekes Center in Menlo Park, helping young people develop skills and confidence.
Brian applied for the Zider award, he said, because of its emphasis on love of family and community. One of four children close in age, Brian's older brother, Connor, has autism and this has taught Brian patience and empathy, he said.
Winner Abigail Thornburg had the unusual experience of taking "Swiss Semester" abroad for the fall semester of her sophomore year. She joined a group of 37 sophomores from different states in the U.S. for the academic program, based in Zermatt. Abigail studied mornings, spent afternoons rock climbing and hiking in the Alps, and combined research projects in geology and art with travel.
Abigail plays her favorite school sports — varsity volleyball and basketball — at Castilleja. She also enjoys canoeing, sailing and water skiing.
The winners were selected from 10 finalists. The eight other finalists are:
• Timothy Benton of Redwood City is a wide-receiver on Menlo School's football team. He also plays on the school's baseball team and won the coaches award. He attended the International Boy Scout Jamboree and is close to becoming an Eagle Scout.
• Robert Dunlevie of Atherton plays on Sacred Heart Prep's water polo team and coached the SHP Swim Buddies. He also plays first trumpet in the high school band.
• Bradley Eckert of Woodside is captain of both the football and lacrosse teams at Menlo School. He enjoys cooking and has his own catering company.
• William Glazier goes to Palo Alto High School where he is catcher on the varsity baseball team and a running back on the junior varsity football team. He plays baritone in the district honor band. William also umpires for Palo Alto Little League games.
• Geena Graumann of Menlo Park plays on Sacred Heart School's varsity soccer team. She also sings soprano in the school's advanced chorus.
• Nicolas Henze of Menlo Park is on Menlo-Atherton High School's varsity swim team and the junior varsity water polo team. He was named the "Most Valuable Player" on the JV water polo team.
• Whitney Hooper of Menlo Park is captain of Menlo School's basketball team. She also sings in the school choir and teaches Sunday School for preschoolers.
• Taylor Jones of Menlo Park plays on Menlo School's soccer and lacrosse teams. She also is a member of the National Charity League.
Note: Go to chrisziderscholarship.com for information on how to apply. Preliminary applications must be postmarked by March 15.