Allie Franklin, a junior at Hazel Green High School, has been named the first recipient of The Roof Tree Scholarship, a merit award bestowed in memory of childhood cancer victim Eli Williams of Athens. Franklin, 16, was chosen out of a group participating in the “Bloom Where You’re Planted” workshop for high school juniors and seniors held in August.
“We are delighted at the judges’ pick for our first recipient,” said Kristie Williams, The Roof Tree founder and Eli’s mom. “We had such an impressive group of kids to participate, so the fact that Allie stood out for them really speaks to how special she is,” Williams said.
Students who plan to further their education upon graduation from high school are able to apply for The Roof Tree Scholarship. The winner is selected in-part on the basis of their service in the community; their reputation and participation at school; their aspirations for the future, and the content of a written essay based on the workshop. The $1,000 scholarship is a one-time award to the academic or vocational institute of the winner’s choice.
Franklin is the daughter of Kyle and Christie Franklin, Meridianville, Alabama. She intends to attend Freed-Hardeman University upon graduation in 2020 and study education, or psychology, or nursing. Hazel Green Principal Darrell Long describes Franklin as a positive leader respected and popular with faculty and students. The Roof Tree is proud to recognize Franklin as one whose character and lifestyle reflects the values and beliefs of Eli.
As part of the award, High School juniors and seniors participate in a workshop intended to equip teenagers with tools to face and conquer challenges and obstacles that will come their way throughout their lives. The workshop suggests proper reactions to unexpected changes in life plans and offers Biblical resources for answers and guidance. It encourages and empowers teens to “bloom where they are planted” no matter the circumstance. The theme is based on a poignant speech given by Eli at the age of 10 and remembered by many as The Roof Tree speech. In it, he encourages listeners to “bloom where you are planted” as he tells of a little tree growing on a roof in his hometown. He likens it to the story in the Bible of Esther who found herself in a tough situation, but trusted in God and did what she needed to do. The lesson of finding the courage to face obstacles and accepting God's plan when it is different than your own is applicable to anyone at any age, but certainly to teens on the edge of adulthood.
Eli fought brain cancer for almost six years succumbing to the disease at the age of 12 in August 2017. The workshop and scholarship is held to perpetuate the impact and reach of Eli’s life in a way that highlights God’s guidance and Eli’s interests while embodying the spirit of his journey.