Michael and Katie Emmons recently named the 13th scholarship recipient of the Taylor Emmons Scholarship Fund, which will pay for a student’s four-year tuition costs at The Out-of-Door Academy’s Upper School.
To help make this scholarship possible, The Out-of-Door Academy hosts an annual Taylor Emmons Memorial Classic. Neal Communities, the region’s largest private homebuilder, has been a $5,000 sponsor of the annual baseball game for the last three years and has donated a total of $15,000 to the fund.
“We are proud to support this program and help to provide a student with a quality education at The Out-of-Door Academy,” said Pat Neal, founder and CEO of Neal Communities.
The Taylor Emmons Scholarship Fund provides opportunities for socio-economically diverse students to experience an independent, college preparatory education at The Out-of-Door Academy’s Upper School. They learn in an environment that encourages students to achieve their highest academic goals and build character through a balanced program of academics.
For Michael and Katie Emmons, each of the 13 students also have become extended members of their family. “My husband and I keep in touch with all of them,” Katie Emmons said. “These kids are really special.”
All of the scholarship recipients have stayed in close touch with the Emmons family, she said. Twice a year, the recipients gather for a family dinner at a local restaurant. The Emmons also have attended high school graduation ceremonies for the students over the years. “They all have their own text chain and stay in touch. It’s really special,” she said. She said she is sure their newest recipient will be welcomed as a freshman by the upper classmen who also received the scholarship once school starts.
The 2023 Taylor Emmons Memorial Classic took place on April 13 at the Taylor Emmons Memorial Baseball Field at Dietrich Family Baseball Complex between The Out-of-Door Academy and Venice High School. The Out-of-Door Academy won 4-2. A total of $8,500 was raised this year.
Katie Emmons said the homebuilder’s support offsets much of the costs to host the annual game, allowing the rest of the proceeds to fund future scholarships. “We probably couldn’t do this without Neal Communities. We are so grateful for their continued support,” she said.
The Taylor Emmons Scholarship Fund was originally created in honor of Michael and Katie Emmons’ son, Taylor Emmons, a 2009 graduate who played on Out-of-Door Academy’s baseball team. Taylor was fatally hit by a car in December 2010. Katie said that, following the tragedy, the family asked for donations in lieu of flowers. A total of $150,000 in donations was raised. She said that Taylor truly enjoyed his time at The Out-of-Door Academy, including his time on the baseball field. With that in mind, the family decided the best way to use the funds was to support local students who wanted to attend the private school who otherwise could not.
“We’re very thankful and appreciative for Neal Communities’ support,” Katie Emmons said. “It means a lot to us.”