Students raise $6,000 for slain Schenecker teens' fund
TAMPA PALMS - Liberty Middle School students are determined to keep alive the memories of a former schoolmate and his sister. For the second consecutive year, Liberty students have donated several thousand dollars to benefit the Calyx and Beau Schenecker Memorial Fund. Future Business Leaders of America members, working with the school's National Junior Honor Society, raised $6,000 in November for the fund by selling cookie dough. Last year, students raised $4,000 to honor the lives of Calyx and Beau Schenecker.The Calyx and Beau Schenecker Memorial Fund provides leadership, athletic and visual arts opportunities for promising Tampa area teenagers. The fund was established after the sister and brother died in January 2011. Their mother, Julie Schenecker, is accused of slaying the children. She remains at the Hillsborough County Jail awaiting trial in October on two counts of first-degree murder. The children's father, Parker Schenecker, and grandmother, Nancy Schenecker, are matching the students' donation. Calyx, 16, was a cross- country runner at King High School, where she was enrolled in the International Baccalaureate program. Beau, 13, was in eighth grade at Liberty Middle, a soccer player and a member of FBLA. He planned to attend Freedom High School. In two years, the memorial fund has received about $92,000, Parker Schenecker said. About 12 scholarships have been awarded. He said he hopes about a dozen more will be handed out next year. The program has covered soccer registration fees for some families unable to afford them, he said. An arts competition will be held at the Hillsborough Community College's North Dale Mabry campus in April in recognition of Calyx, who was an aspiring artist. In an interview after the check presentation at Liberty Middle Dec. 17, Parker Schenecker described the students as role models to whom Calyx and Beau would be drawn. "These kids are phenomenal," the former Army colonel said. "They are aware of what is going on in the community, doing things bigger than themselves." Liberty Middle Principal James Ammirati praised the students for surpassing their $5,000 goal. "All the credit goes to the FBLA and National Junior Honor Society," the principal said. "They are the ones who made it possible in only the second year. "It's a tribute to the legacy Beau and Calyx have left within the community." Hillsborough County School Board Member Cindy Stuart agreed, saying the students recognized a need and answered the call. "It's amazing to me that these students raised that amount of money in this economy, for a very worthy cause," Stuart said. A rap song written and performed by Charisma Henry, a 12-year-old seventh-grader who serves as president of Liberty Middle's National Junior Honor Society, helped draw attention to the fundraiser. Lamine Diagne, an eighth-grader and president of the school's Future Business Leaders of America, also attributed the project's success to hard work and having a compassionate student body, school staff, and parents. "We chose this project because it meant something to us," he said. "It meant opportunity." As a result of the scholarships, worthy area students now will be able to attend college or play soccer, said Lamine, the son of Assane and Kadidja Diagne of Tampa Palms. "It gives them a chance," the 13-year-old said, "to achieve their dreams to do great things."