(left) Perry Peters from the Friends of the Friends of Ronald Reagan Sports Park, (middle) Hailey Strode the Medallion of Initiative winner from Great Oak High School, and (right) Hailey's Father.

Hailey's Scholarship Story

Great Oaks High School senior Hailey Paige Strode was presented with a $500 scholarship to the University of Oregon at a Friends of Ronald Reagan Sports Park Board meeting after Can-Do Day because she was unable to attend the March 8 event. She also received a Medallion of Initiative for her essay explaining why she should be awarded the scholarship. Hailey had a unique and historical claim to the Can-Do scholarship, having written a condolence letter to First Lady Nancy Reagan after President Reagan died – and received a letter back thanking her for her kindness. Hailey was 9 years old at the time! Hailey also was among the people who spoke at the Temecula City Council meeting, which was considering whether or not to name the local sports park after the late President. She shared with the Council the condolence letter she had written. Her mother, Carol Strode, also spoke in favor of the name change. This was the same meeting where Perry Peters asked that he be allowed to raise funds to build a monument to make sure future generations would never forget about the Can-Do spirit of the volunteers who built the sports park without government funding. The Council voted unanimously to approve, calling the park “Ronald Reagan Sports Park.” At the time, Hailey also was the youngest person to join the Can-Do Club. That record still stands today. Mike Strode, Hailey’s father, posed as President Reagan, as he now appears in the monument that stands in the park, as part of a live version of what the monument was to look like when completed. Hailey and Connor, her brother, also took part in the living memorial. The “live” monument was part of the July 4th Parade entry presented several years ago by the Friends of Ronald Reagan Sports Park. But even without this part of her background, Hailey’s essay was able to convince the scholarship judges that she deserved the award because it was truly compelling in content and with an attention to detail that reflected a focused relevance to the requirements and a maturity beyond her years.