Arts & Entertainment

Powelson, Staffin, McBurney Named Recipients of Kim Nelson Scholarships


BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Bridgewater-Raritan High School seniors Brittany Powelson, Rachel Staffin and Justin McBurney were presented with scholarships from the Kimberly A. Nelson Foundation Inc.

The $1,500 scholarship awards were given during the annual choir dinner at the Bridgewater Manor June 3.

According to a release, this is the first time in the foundation’s history that three scholarships were awarded in one year.

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“I think it’s a testament to the tremendous depth of talent that we find in these programs that we chose to award three scholarships this year,” Scott Nelson, president of the foundation, said in the release. “It was an extremely strong pool of applicants.”

As part of the scholarship requirements, recipients are required to be active in the high school’s choral groups and musical theater productions. In addition, the release said, they must demonstrate a commitment to academic excellence and community service.

Powelson has been involved in all BRHS choir and musical theater programs since her freshman year. She was selected for the NJ All State Mixed Choir in 2013, and also attended Westminster Choir College’s High School Vocal Institute.

Powelson was also the co-founder of Fourté, Bridgewater’s only female barber shop quartet.

Outside of music, Powelson has volunteered at the Pluckemin Presbyterian Church since she was 12, and has been a Teen Worship Leader and Vacation Bible School Leader. She also volunteered on a REACH Work Trip in 2013 to help rebuild and paint houses for people in need.

Powelson will be attending Messiah College as a psychology major with a minor in music in the fall.

Staffin has been member of almost every choir at the school, as well as the wind ensemble, symphony orchestra and marching band. She has also participated in the school musical, serving as the student pit organizer and principal horn in “Beauty and the Beast” and ensemble member in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.”

In addition, Staffin was a member of the regional and NJ All State Choir and band, and was also named a U.S. Army All-American Marching Band member in 2015. Staffin is also a co-founder of Fourté, and rings with the Carillons hand bell choir at Pluckemin Presbyterian Church, as well as being music director for Vacation Bible School.

Staffin will be studying business management with a minor in music at Indiana University.

McBurney was a member of the Ensembros men’s a capella group and JV glee, as well as taking part in symphonic choir for three years and serving as a teaching and conducting assistant to the women’s choir as a senior. McBurney was also active in musical theater, playing Jeffrey in “Godspell,” Carlos/Pfortzeimer in “Legally Blonde,” the Beast in “Beauty and the Beast” and J.B. Biggley in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.”

McBurney volunteers as a Teen Worship Leader at his church, and works with children’s groups Young Disciples and Children’s worship.

In the fall, McBurney will study music education with a minor in psychology at Montclair State University.

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