Denfeld News

June 6, 2010
Duluth News Tribune

Hardworking Denfeld graduate breaks new ground for her family
By Jana Hollingsworth

AnnMarie Scanlon hates the charming little gap in her front teeth.

Since she was a child, she’s dreamed of becoming a dentist and getting that gap fixed. That tunnel vision is part of the reason the Denfeld High School senior this week will be the first in her family to graduate.

Scanlon, 17, lives alone with her mom, who uses a wheelchair. She works weekends as a hotel housekeeper to pay for things they need, and spends a lot of time shuttling her mother to doctor appointments. Most of her free time is spent doing homework, to make the grades she needs to attend college.

“It’s really stressful at times,” she said. “I’ve always had to be responsible. A lot of my friends are older, and they say ‘responsibility sucks.’ Tell me about it. I’ve been washing my own clothes since I was 8.”

Health teacher Laura LaFontaine said Scanlon is one of the most driven students she knows.

“She wants to learn; she’s eager to learn,” she said. “Some kids pass through these walls and say ‘spoon-feed me,’ but not AnnMarie.”

Scanlon has a passion for math and science. She says numbers, in their manner of being right or wrong, are comforting to her. Despite taking on college preparatory classes last year she wasn’t quite ready for, she’s maintained a 3.5 grade-point average this year.

Scanlon earned a Jack Moon scholarship enabling her to attend Lake Superior College next school year, where she plans to enroll in the program for dental hygienists.

Scanlon has lived with either her mother or father throughout her life, bouncing between the two. Having to contribute more than the average teen to maintain a household has made Scanlon grow up faster than she’s wanted. She’s missed out on some teen rites of passage, like prom, because she couldn’t afford it.

“I want my kids … to have the teenage moments that I never got,” she said.

She also wants to make sure that traveling somewhere, anywhere, with her mom is in the future.

“I don’t know what it’s like outside these city limits,” she said.

Scanlon credits several teachers with helping her build character and offering her academic support that went beyond the usual. Her parents raised her to be strong and independent, she said, but weren’t always able to help her with homework.

“They can’t help me with the math or the English because they never even came this far,” she said. “The teachers here have really helped me through a lot of my years.”

Her mother, Lory Mundle, said Scanlon has fought her way through school. She appreciates all her daughter does to help, but noted she’s still a teen.

“Every time I turn around I’m laughing because she’s said something cute,” she said. “You see the innocence in her, still.”

Mundle is overwhelmed that Scanlon is graduating, and said without her scholarship, college wouldn’t have been a reality.

“But I figured she could do it,” she said. “She’s smart.”

Scanlon grew into a leader this year, LaFontaine said, teaching middle school kids about respect for a service learning class.

“You know she’s going to be successful because she’s got her head on straight and doesn’t take anything for granted,” she said.

And she’s imbued with a fierce sense of that famous Denfeld Hunter pride, which she said you begin to learn as an underclassman. When she was younger, she’d watch her father, a janitor for the school, clean the bleachers after the games.

“You could see the football stadium lit up with nobody in it,” she said. “The underclassmen get freaked out by how proud we are to be Hunters. But I’ve never seen a senior class not love it. I loved this school before I came to this school."

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