Seventh grader Caroline Martin became the third recipient Wednesday of the Catherine Carroll Barile-Culhane Scholarship. Jenniann C. Barile and administrators and teachers from the Mustard Seed School presented the seventh grader with the $2,500 award.
The award is given out every year on Catherine's birthday, May 29.
Jenniann, Catherine's mother, and school officials selected Martin because she exhibits many of the same joys, skills and talents that Catherine had. "She was great at geography, had a great love for friendship, a great sense of humor and a sincere sense of spirituality," said Barile at the ceremony Wednesday.
The event was held outdoors at Church Square Park. In May of 2000, Barile, a local developer planted a ring of trees and placed a small plaque in the park to keep her daughter's memory alive. Blue flowers, Catherine's favor color, lay at the base of one of the trees as her mother and several of Catherine's former teachers gave heartfelt words of remembrance.
Gary Lawrence, an assistant to the school's headmaster and one of Catharine's teachers at the small Christian school that runs from kindergarten through the eighth grade, remembered his former student for her sense of humor and her zest for living.
"She always had the gift to able to bring joy into the classroom," said Lawrence. "The ability to find what is funny in what people are saying."
Barile also remembered her daughter's sense of humor. "She was always the center of comedy," she said. "If the kids were laughing, it almost always had something to do with her. She had a great presence about her. She had grace and a tremendous amount of life in her."
In addition to her sense of humor, everyone lauded Catherine for her leadership skills, athleticism and geography talents.
Martin was selected from a number of nominated Mustard Seed students. According to Barile, Martin was especially similar to her daughter when it comes to her humor and athletic ability. She is accomplished in basketball, softball and soccer.
"It's really cool [getting this award]," said Martin, who was in second grade at the time of fire. "I still remember her a little, and to be compared to her is something very special."
Donations to the Catherine Carroll Barile-Culhane Scholarship Fund can be sent to the Mustard Seed Christian School. For more information call the school at (201) 653-5548.