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Scholarship program lives on

March 19, 2007|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN - Ronnette Keats remembers playing piano and reciting poetry for Ruth Monroe.

Anastasia Broadus thought of the community leader, who died in October 2005, as a grandmother.

Keats, Anastasia and dozens of others came together Sunday at the scholarship banquet that Monroe founded.

Anastasia, 14, who helped serve food to a table of children at the 21st annual Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Banquet at Memorial Recreation Center, said she once asked whether the event would continue through her senior year.

The freshman at North Hagerstown High School helped at the event for the fifth year.

"I plan to grow up and maybe work at Memorial Recreation because it's right now, it's all about the kids," said Anastasia, who would like to apply for the scholarship when she's old enough.

The first winner of the scholarship, Keats, 39, said she still supports the event, even though she has no children.

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"There's so many pressures on the children and the youth, so I will support anything the community does, especially for education," Keats said.

A lack of registration for the event, which raises money for scholarships through the sponsorships of tables, forced its postponement in January, according to Norma Pompey, one of Monroe's daughters. A snowstorm hit in February, putting on hold plans to hold the event then.

"When the snow came Friday, I said, 'Lord, thank you because it's not Sunday.' I am grateful and thankful, because (if) you keep putting it off, people lose interest," Pompey said.

Turnout at the event - about 90 people - was less than last year, but Pompey's aunt, Ilene Smith, said Monroe would be proud.

"Down through the years, it has seen an increase and decrease. ... But people can see the need is so great that people support it," Smith said.

Smith said the family has participated in all facets of the banquets, and since Monroe's death, she sees the event as a way to keep alive her sister's dream.

Pompey said she has a second motivation - Anastasia's still in school.

The scholarships are given based on students' essays and grades, Pompey said. Students can pick up applications at their high school guidance offices later this spring.

"I can't disappoint her. I have to do at least three more years," Pompey said.

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