June 6, 2010
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
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
“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
“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
“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
“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."