NICHOLSON — The Trail Rotary Club gives annual $1,000 scholarships to two Lackawanna Trail students who show service and leadership. Named the Brianna Smarkusky Service & Leadership Scholarship, the awards remember Brianna Smarkusky, a previous recipient who passed away unexpectedly from a pulmonary embolism in January 2017.
Smarkusky received the scholarship in 2013 for always doing things for the community. She was active in the 4-H club by raising livestock. She was also a dairy princess for Lackawanna and Wyoming counties. She volunteered with Trail Rotary Club by participating in its donation program called Closed Closets, in which club members sell second-hand clothing for a quarter at St. Patrick’s Church in Nicholson.
“It was a great loss,” Trail Rotary Club member Joan Kupetsky said of Brianna’s death. “She was always so busy with service.”
Brianna was also an altar server at St. Patrick’s Church church. The scholarship she received went towards her schooling at Wilkes University, where she was studying to become a doctor.
Trail Rotary Club held a bowling tournament, called “Dollar for Scholars,” on Feb. 10 at Belvedere Lanes.
“It’s nice that it’s local now because we can get a better turnout,” said club secretary Lisa Logan Clough. “First, because it’s for Brianna, and second, because it’s for Lackawanna Trail students.”
Raffle baskets from corporate and private sponsors also helped to raise funds.
The bowling tournament was held in two sessions. Friends and family members of Brianna, including her parents Bill and Mary Smarkusky, participated in the first session.
“It’s a great remembrance of our daughter,” said Bill. “We are passing it forward on what she would’ve done.”
Brianna’s brother Dave and his wife Amanda bowled in the same team as Bill and Mary. Dominic Lenz, a friend of the Smarkusky family, also bowled on their team. Lenz works at the Smarkuskys’ farm where he rides tractors, cleans buses and feeds pigs.
“They’re really nice,” Lenz said about the Smarkuskys. “It doesn’t seem like work. It’s more like coming there and just having a fun laugh.”
The Smarkuskys’ friends and neighbors Brian and Joann Ritter bowled with their two sons Ethan and Wyatt and daughter Finn. Brianna used to babysit for Ethan and Wyatt and they would bale hay in the Smarkuskys’ barn during the summer.
“This is a great thing for a great person,” Brian said. “It’s a good way to remember her, having fun like this.”
Brianna’s best friends Jessica Jordan and Courtney Ditchey were also there to bowl in her memory.
“She was involved in everything,” said Jessica, who was in Brianna’s classes at Lackawanna Trail since kindergarten. “She was that kind of person.”
“She was just wonderful,” Courtney added. “She was smart and funny. She was the best friend you could ask for.”
During the second session of the bowling tournament, Lackawanna Trail students from the Interact Club were there to bowl.
“I think it’s really good that it’s local,” said club member Abby Wilson. “We don’t have to go that far. It’s also good exercise.”
The Interact Club is a junior Rotary whose members show dedication in serving the community. They do breakfast fundraisers once a year, adopt families during Christmas time and sponsor foreign exchange students. Club members will host a fashion show at St. Patrick’s Church in Nicholson on March 18 where they will model donated clothes.