AJ's Scholarship, contact Joan Parenteau at 715-394-8710 for more information | Explore Superior©

Scholarship Created in Memory of 5 Year Old

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Unexpected Passing of Child Inspires Giving

By Doug Dalager

AJ Conley | Explore Superior©

AJ Conley | Explore Superior©

When Monica Tikkanen’s five year old grandson passed away suddenly on Halloween night, his family was totally devastated. Little AJ Conley was a helping and unselfish child, whose death was totally unexpected. As a means of addressing their grief while remembering their “little guy,” Tikkanen and her family decided to work towards establishing a scholarship in AJ’s name.

Tikkanen is the Director of Human Resources for the School District of Superior, and also serves on the Superior Scholarship Foundation Board. While working with AJ’s mother and father to plan his funeral, they discussed setting up a scholarship in AJ’s name. Allison and Jay Conley, parents of four other children, felt this would keep his memory alive and help some future student do what they envisioned AJ would have done. Allison is a teacher at Superior High School.

Having also helped set up another scholarship for a personal friend, Tikkanen was already convinced that Superior’s scholarship fund is one of the best. She believes that our community is very generous and committed to help children, and she’s seen the good works that it does.

“When my little guy died, as his grandmother, I had to do something that was meaningful. AJ was a Four Corners Student in Kindergarten and he was such a helping, unselfish child. His death is such a mystery to us still that we want to support someone who will go into medicine. We think he would have had a medical career because of how he cared for people so much.” Monica Tikkanen

The executive director of the Superior Scholarship Foundation is Nancy Pedersen. The Foundation Board manages 92 scholarships, that each year grant approximately $250,000 to graduates of Superior High School. In addition to current year awards, another $200,000 is awarded in renewable scholarships annually.

Scholarships are provided by a number of sources, including families, businesses, fraternal clubs, and alumni. For more information about scholarship opportunities through the foundation, please Click Here. A full list of all scholarships managed by the fund can be seen HERE.

Tikkanen expressed that in her time of grief, “knowing about the School District’s Scholarship Foundation helped our family and those who grieved with us create some long-lasting memorial to our little angel. My grief has been turned into hopefulness because of the huge outpouring of support that this greater community has shown to me and AJ’s family.”

She went on to say that, “as we greeted people at the funeral, and where we work, and where we live, we find ourselves greeted by people who have also lost a loved one, and they know our sorrow. We are overwhelmed by the donations for the scholarship fund in AJ’s name. People in this town want to help. This story goes to the goodness of the whole town and of the school district community. When we lose one, we all lose. When we help one, we all are helped. AJ’s scholarship will help students meet their medical career goal starting in 2016. As a community, we should never, ever underestimate the power of giving to the scholarship foundation, and it’s many, many funds.”

Superior Scholarship Foundation | Explore Superior©The Superior Scholarship Foundation issues biannual newsletters to show the community what they are accomplishing on an ongoing basis. In order to receive these newsletters, you are encouraged to contact Joan Parenteau, School District of Superior, 3025 Tower Avenue, Superior, WI 54880. Her direct line is (715) 394-8710, and her email address is joan.parenteau@superior.k12.wi.us.

Joan Parenteau is also the person whom to contact if you would like to contribute to any Foundation scholarship, including AJ’s scholarship. Over 127 Superior High School students received scholarships in June of 2015. AJ’s family is looking forward to awarding the first of many scholarships in AJ’s memory in June of 2016. If you would like to donate to AJ’s scholarship, please make your checks payable to Superior Scholarship Foundation with a memo noted to “AJ’s Scholarship” and mail to Joan Parenteau at the above address.

On a final note, in reference to the upcoming school referendum on April 5th, Tikkanen said “this community should keep in mind our obligation to all children. Each of us got to where we are with the help of others…we didn’t do it alone. It takes a village–a very caring village to raise all kids.”

Superior Scholarship Foundation




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