News for Atascadero, CA|Wednesday, July 17, 2019
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Local ballet dancer awarded scholarship 

–The Jennifer Thoma Memorial Ballet Scholarship, held at The Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County, has announced this year’s recipient: Grace Shirley, age 15, who is an honors student at Templeton Independent Study High School.

The $2,500 scholarship will provide support for Shirley to attend a summer intensive ballet training program.

Templeton resident, Shirley, studies ballet at SLO Movement Arts Center in San Luis Obispo and hopes to become a professional dancer. Although she has applied a few times for the scholarship in the past, studio owner Ryan Lawrence encouraged her to apply again. The evaluation committee appreciated the growth in Shirley’s dancing from year to year and her perseverance to improve her skills. “I am very grateful to have been chosen for this year’s scholarship recipient,” said Shirley. “I appreciate that they have recognized my growth over the years and thank them for helping me achieve my goals.” This scholarship will allow her to attend the Alonzo King Lines Ballet in San Francisco from July 8 through Aug. 2.

Bill Thoma spoke of his family’s interest in establishing the annual scholarship as a means of keeping his wife, Jennifer’s, passion for the art of ballet alive. “My wife devoted herself to dance in so many ways,” said Bill. “She attended hundreds of performances, served on dance organization boards of directors, drove our daughter to rehearsals, accompanied her to special training programs, sewed costumes, raised funds and in her spare time, did a little dancing herself. She would be so proud that her dream became reality and honored such deserving young [dancers.]”

“We are honored to partner with Bill Thoma through the Jennifer Thoma Memorial Ballet Scholarship to support our local youth as they reach to achieve their dreams and ambitions,” said Heidi McPherson, CEO of The Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County.

Additional information about the Jennifer Thoma Memorial Ballet Scholarship is available online at The Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County website, or by contacting Senior Scholarship Program Associate, Angela Hollander, at (805) 543-2323.

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News staff of the A-Town Daily News wrote and edited this article from local contributors and press releases. Scott Brennan is the publisher of this newspaper and founder of Access Publishing. Connect with him on , Twitter, LinkedIn, or follow his blog. He can be reached at

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