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Spring-Ford Area Senior Scores Scholarship for Ireland Trip

Paulina Portela's 'Dreaming of the Emerald Isle' essay won her the scholarship, provided by school board vice-president Joe Ciresi.

Credit: Spring-Ford Area School District.
Credit: Spring-Ford Area School District.
The following information was provided by the Spring-Ford Area School District.

Spring-Ford Area High School senior Paulina Portela has been awarded a scholarship to travel to Limerick, Ireland in the Spring of 2014, thanks to her winning essay, “Dreaming of the Emerald Isle.”  
 
The scholarship, awarded by School Board Vice-President Joe Ciresi, was created to honor his late mother, Maria, who had travelled to Ireland with Ciresi and the students of Spring-Ford several years ago – the first flight in her life.  
 
“My mother was treated like a queen in Ireland and all she wanted to do was go back there,” Ciresi reflected.
 
In fact, at the time of her unexpected death in July, she had been saving money to  return to Ireland. “Our family felt it was most fitting to use this money to create a scholarship to cover the expenses associated with a Spring-Ford student’s trip to Ireland,” Ciresi explained. They reached out to family and friends to raise additional funds.
 
Then, the Ciresi family organized an essay contest with the topic being “What Ireland Would Mean to Me.”  Paulina Portela’s winning essay – which focused on a dream in which she has touring Ireland only to wake up in her own room in Pennsylvania – captured the Ciresi’s hearts.  “It really spoke to us,” said Joe Ciresi.
 
Paulina Portela was shocked when her name was announced at the Limerick-to-Limerick Welcome Breakfast last week.  “I just cannot believe this; I am so happy,” she said. 
 
The Limerick-to-Limerick program, launched in 2008, was created to build cultural awareness among students by pairing high school students in Spring-Ford with Colaiste Chiarain, its sister school in Limerick, Ireland.  While educational and cultural in nature, the program has fostered global friendships that have remained strong since its inception. 

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