Friendship and scholarship are the topics of this week’s Party Line.

Friendship Force

Friendship Force of Baton Rouge celebrated its 30th anniversary as a member of Friendship Force International with a reception May 4 at the Woman’s Club. Founding member Darwin Knochenmus and 24-year member Frances Bennett both received the Wayne Smith Award, the first local club members to receive the prestigious medals. They were presented by Friendship Force International board member and local club Secretary Bob Duncan.

Mayor Kip Holden proclaimed it Friendship Force of Baton Rouge Day and sent a key to the city to be presented to club President Thornton Cofield. Throughout the event, a continuously running slide show depicting 25 years of club exchanges played in the background.

Special surprise guests were Pongsy Harnsongkram; her son, Capt. Kittiyut Harnsongkram, wife Vachiraporn and their twin sons, Mix and Max, from Bangkok, Thailand; and her brother-in-law, Sammy Harnsongkram, of Jayess, Mississippi. Friendship Force of Baton Rouge visited the Bangkok Club in 2009 and the Bangkok Club visited Baton Rouge in 2012. Harnsongkram presented the club with a beautiful plate from the Friendship Force of Thailand.

The festivities ended with the traditional singing of “Let There Be Peace On Earth” with member Margaret Moore at the piano.

AKA scholarships

The Gamma Eta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority held its annual scholarship program honoring local female high school seniors May 3 at the sorority house. Guest speaker for the program was Saundra Y. McGuire, assistant vice chancellor, professor of chemistry and director emeritus for the Center for Academic Success at LSU.

Six one-time $1,000 awards were presented to Diondra Alexander and Sunni Leahman, Episcopal High School; Brea Manuel and Jaylyn Woods, Dunham School; Sydney Mays, University Laboratory School; and Maya Pelichet, Zachary High School.

Mia McKee was awarded the $500 Jo Ethel Gray Honoré Scholarship, which is designated for a female student graduating from Scotlandville High School. The award was presented by Desireé Honoré Thomas, immediate past chapter president and daughter of the late Jo Ethel Honoré.

Istrouma High graduate Catherine Bentley and Zachary High Taylor Ike received the $500 Audrey Daste LeBlanc Memorial Scholarship, designated for students planning to attend Southern University in Baton Rouge. They were presented by LeBlanc’s daughter, Jelynne LeBlanc-Burley, of San Antonio, Texas.

The scholarship recipients were chosen from among 28 applicants representing 15 area high schools who competed in an essay writing competition and interview panel discussion. Deborah Paul served as chairwoman of the program with Myrtly Joyner as her co-chairwoman. Katina Semien is the president of the Gamma Eta Omega chapter.

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