Smithfield High student awarded arts scholarship

Published 9:14 am Saturday, June 12, 2010

FRANKLIN—Rod and Tricia Phelps lost their 23-year-old daughter Amy in an accident eight years ago. A year later, they channeled their pain by starting a scholarship fund with the Franklin Junior Woman’s Club to help aspiring artists.

“It keeps Amy’s name alive,” Tricia Phelps said.

This year, the scholarship has been linked with Rawls Museum Arts.

“Simply because Amy was an artist, it just seemed like the right place to go,” Tricia Phelps said.

This year’s recipient of the $2,000 Rawls Museum Arts Amy Phelps Art Scholarship was Smithfield High School senior Paige Welton, who will be attending Longwood University in the fall—the same school Amy attended.

The Phelpses attended a ceremony last week where their son Ben, a teacher at Smithfield High, and presented Welton with the scholarship.

While it isn’t a huge sum of money, Rod Phelps said the scholarship funds are very useful, especially considering the expense of art supplies.

To qualify for the scholarship, students must live in Franklin or Southampton, Isle of Wight, Sussex or Surry counties and plan to pursue visual arts in college—not necessarily at an art school.

The focused nature of the scholarship usually keeps the number of applicants relatively low, but the final decision can still be difficult, Rod Phelps said.

“Sometimes we come down to two or three, and it’s just tough to get down to that final one,” he said.

Leigh Anne Chambers, executive director of the Rawls Museum Arts, said it was “an honor” for the museum to be involved with the scholarship this year.

“I am personally inspired by the way this family has turned their loss into a generous gift that will reward a deserving student in Amy’s honor,” she said.

The Phelpses said their family and the community have supported the scholarship fund and fundraising efforts since the beginning.

“Amy was well-loved in the community,” said Tricia Phelps. “It’s just a good way to remember her.”

Friday, June 11 would’ve been Amy’s 31st birthday.