Award for junior, scholarship for senior established in honor of Robert Swain

By Corey AmEnde - Staff Writer
East Hartford - posted Thu., Oct. 17, 2013
Robert Swain was a three-sport athlete at EHHS as a member of the football, wrestling and volleyball teams. Photo courtesy of Christine Lawlor-King. - Contributed Photo

A Robert Malik Swain Award and a Robert Swain Memorial Scholarship have been established at East Hartford High School to honor the recent EHHS graduate who died in a fatal car crash this summer. Robert Swain, 18, had just graduated from EHHS the prior month when he and his younger brother, La’Andrew Evans-Swain, 16, were killed in a car crash in the early morning hours of July 14 on Forest Street in East Hartford.

Robert was a three-sport athlete while at EHHS as a member of the football, wrestling and volleyball teams. He was remembered during a tribute on Friday, Oct. 11, before the homecoming football game against Hall. A giant Superman logo was painted at the 24-yard-line near the home sideline with his initials R.S. and his number, 24, also painted on the field.  His parents, Tanya Jones and Robert Swain, Jr., gathered around the Superman logo before the game with the seniors from this year’s team for a moment of silence to honor Robert, who had been accepted to Mount Ida College.

Christine Lawlor-King, a science teacher at the high school, taught Robert his junior year and worked with him on his college application his senior year. “I wrote his college letter of recommendation and had to take it home because I started crying here writing it,” said Lawlor-King.  “He’s one of my all-time favorites.”

Lawlor-King worked with Principal Matt Ryan in developing the programs that will honor a junior with the Robert Malik Swain Award and a senior with the Robert Swain Memorial Scholarship.  Both awards will begin during the current 2013-2014 school year and will be presented at the Honors and Awards Night near the end of the school year.

“I want it to be about that kid that comes to us, is in trouble, the grades are just not there, but then starts to grow and mature,” said Lawlor-King. During his freshmen and sophomore year, Lawlor-King said Robert was a student who got into some trouble and had low grades. "Then junior year something clicked and he became amazing,” said Lawlor-King.  “He was focused on school, he was focused on sports, his GPA started to rise; the kid got it.  So this award, I wanted it to be based on him, on his life, on his journey here.”

The Robert Malik Swain Award is designed to honor a junior who had troubles their freshmen and sophomore years, but turns things around their junior year, improves their grade point average and becomes more involved in extracurricular activities. Lawlor-King said the guidance department will run a report in January to pinpoint the students that have had a dramatic increase in GPA. Then a committee of guidance counselors, social workers, vice principals and the principal will discuss the names on the list and select a winner. The recipient of this award will receive a certificate and a small memento.

The criteria for the $500 scholarship for seniors is different, and is based on Robert’s involvement with the volleyball team. The recipient of this award must be a senior boy or girl who is a member of the varsity volleyball team. The scholarship was established by Bonnie Fineman, who coached Robert his junior year when he was a member of the boys’ varsity volleyball team.

The winner of the Robert Swain Memorial Scholarship will be chosen by the team coach or the athletic director and must have been accepted to a four-year college or university and earn a minimum of a 3.0 GPA during their senior year.  “Like Robert, this individual must care for his or her teammates while working hard in total dedication to Hornet Pride. The recipient should exhibit positive relationships with peers, family, teachers and administrators.  Additionally, he or she must be characterized by a 'warrior’s mentality' through the demonstration of strong personal, academic and athletic growth,” according to the scholarship description.

Lawlor-King said Robert had been planning to return to EHHS this fall to talk to her freshmen.  “His idea - he said, 'I need to do that,'” said Lawlor-King. “I feel like with this award and the scholarship, he’s still here. We haven’t forgotten about him,” she said. “His presence is still here and it acts as an example to other kids.”

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