Dylan Long had an inkling of why he was called down to the Flagler Auditorium on Tuesday morning, Dec. 7.
“They did a good job of disguising it,” the Flagler Palm Coast High School senior said.
Long and his mother, Amy, were called up on stage. She received a bouquet of flowers, he was given a bundle of balloons as the Flagler County Education Foundation and the high school celebrated his selection as one of six winners statewide of the Take Stock for Children’s Leaders For Life Fellowship.
The fellowship will provide Long with a $40,000 four-year scholarship on top of the full tuition-paid scholarship that all Take Stock in Children students receive. The fellowship scholarship can provide housing, meal plans, computers, leadership training and internship opportunities. The students also receive a semester abroad while in college.
Since the program’s inception, 63 Leaders For Life Fellowships have been awarded. Long was the second Flagler County student to be named a finalist for the award, and the first in the county to win the fellowship.
“I’m really appreciative of everyone that has helped me over the years. This will take a huge financial burden off of me for college.”
“I’m really appreciative of everyone that has helped me over the years,” Long said. “This will take a huge financial burden off of me for college.”
Long impressed the selection committee with his academic record. He ranks sixth in a class of 628 graduates with a 5.25 weighted GPA. He scored 1540 our of a possible 1600 on his SAT.
Long has also logged 631 volunteer hours and participated in 27 Take Stock in Children events. He has met frequently over the past four years with his Take Stock in Children mentor, Peter Sutcliffe.
Take Stock in Children is a non-profit in Florida that provides low-income students one-on-one support with a volunteer mentor, college success services and the opportunity to earn a college scholarship.
“The Take Stock in Children program gives these kids an amazing opportunity. It puts somebody significant in their lives to give them a safe haven,” said Joe Rizzo, Flagler County Education Foundation’s executive director.
The foundation raises money for the program, which gets matched by the state legislature.
“The Take Stock in Children program gives these kids an amazing opportunity. It puts somebody significant in their lives to give them a safe haven.”
JOE RIZZO, Flagler County Education Foundation executive director.
“Three years ago, we started with 30 kids (in Flagler County). Today we have over 100 kids,” Rizzo said.
Long said he and his two sisters have been raised by a single mom since 2015, when his father left. Amy is a social worker, who works for a non-profit, and recently earned a master’s degree in social work.
"She's a single mom who went back to school and has a full-time job," Long said.
Long plans to major in computer science. He and FPC teacher Kevin Saint recently began a club called Sustainable Flagler with a goal to help FPC achieve a green school designation.
Long said the University of Florida and UCF are his top Florida college choices. He has also applied to Georgia Tech, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Carnegie Mellon University.
"The Peter & Sue Freytag Take Stock in Children program, and the Flagler County Education Foundation are incredibly proud of Dylan and all of his accomplishments," said Christy Butler, the foundation’s student services coordinator.