Optimist Scholars

Sairoong Brunner and Theo Mahaffey are the recipients of the Fitchburg Optimist Club's 2020 Scholarships for Community Service to Youth.

The Fitchburg Optimist Club announced the recipients of its 2020 Scholarships for Community Service to Youth in a May 4 news release.

Sairoong Brunner and Theo Mahaffey, two Fitchburg seniors who graduated this spring from Madison West High School, were selected to receive a $1000 scholarship to use for post-high school educational expenses.

The news release stated Brunner plans to study Nutritional Science and/or Environmental Policy at either McGill University or the University of Minnesota.

Brunner worked as a volunteer at Aldo Leopold Elementary School in addition to the Madison Rape Crisis Center, where she facilitated a youth advisory board with area high school students, according to the release.

She also volunteered with youth at the YMCA doing daycare work and at Verona High School working in the summer school program, teaching children to read.

Mahaffee will be studying physics at the University of Minnesota, the news release stated. He volunteered as a peer tutor at Madison West and volunteered as a translator for Aldo Leopold School, serving as a communications liaison to Spanish speaking families.

He also volunteered time delivering meals alongside his family with the Fitchburg Senior Center’s Meals on Wheels program. Mahaffee has worked as a lifeguard and swim lesson instructor teaching youth at Seminole Pool and plans to continue in that role during summers while in college, according to the release.

"These two graduating seniors, Sairoong and Theo, are precisely the kind of people we had in mind when we set up these scholarships," Fitchburg Optimist Club co-president Jake Johnson wrote in the release. "Both have shown a passionate commitment to connecting with kids in our community and paying it forward by volunteering and working with youth.”

Neal Patten can be contacted at neal.patten@wcinet.com.