Awards night to honor graduating seniors

Dollars for Scholars scholarships granted


Echo archive photograph

Emma Kempf

On May 23, selected graduating seniors will be presented with awards and scholarships at the annual Academic Awards and Scholarships Night, according to counselor and event organizer Barb Nelson.

“I’d be curious to know how many times we’ve done this (awards night),” Nelson said. “I’ve been here 20 years, and we’ve been doing it that long for sure.”

According to Nelson, the first portion of the night will honor seniors with academic awards, which include honors awards, AP and IB, and some special individual awards from school departments and other programs.

“The academic awards, it’s really just lists of names. Some of these are really long lists,” Nelson said. “It’s more of a group honoring of kids who fall into those categories, and some of the kids are in multiple places because a lot of the kids who are high academics have also done three or more IB tests.”

Senior Katie Steiner said she was surprised at how specific some of the scholarships were when she applied for Dollars for Scholars.

“I think there was one (application question) about which house you would be in Hogwarts and why, and I thought it was a lot of fun to fill out those questions,” Steiner said.

Nelson said the second portion of the night will present scholarships from the Dollars for Scholars program from community organizations including the League of Women Voters, Park Valley United, the St. Louis Park Hockey Association and the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.

“There’s all different types of scholarships that students are given, which is really neat to see the community involvement,” Nelson said. “A lot of the donors actually that evening come and present their scholarships, so they have a chance to get up and share a little background of the story and meet the person who is a recipient of their award.”

According to Nelson, the school staff has also contributed to create scholarships in the past, and so have community individuals and families.

“One time I opened a letter, and it was this woman’s will we were written into,” Nelson said. “We learned that she had been someone who had come to plays and really enjoyed the theater here, so we made that scholarship for theater students. It’s kind of neat little stories like that that are fun that are the background for all the different awards.”

Nelson said scholarships granted to seniors begin around 500$ with the highest scholarship being worth $10,000.

“I haven’t seen the bottom line total yet. Usually it’s close to around $90,000 that’s given out that evening,” Nelson said. “It’s a lot of money. We have a treasurer for Dollars for Scholars that I work closely with, and we do all the letters and certificates.”

Steiner said she looks forward to the awards night because she believes recognizing high schoolers for their achievements both strengthens the community and assists students in their future education.

“If you could reduce the cost of college by any amount, that would be pretty great, because college now a-days – that’s another story – but it’s too much,” Steiner said.

Nelson said she hopes Dollars for Scholars encourages graduating students to think about giving back to the community.

“Maybe in four years or eight years, when they’re on their feet, they can think about giving back in the form of a scholarship, because it’s a really cool way to honor where you came from,” Nelson said.

According to Nelson, the Academic Awards and Scholarships Night will take place at 7 p.m. May 23 in the high school gym.