VHS initiates Dollars for Scholars by M. Jill Karolevitz Philanthropy and comfort are walking hand-in-hand as the result of a new program recently initiated by Vermillion High School staff.
Dollars for Scholars will annually pool contributions from participating VHS faculty and administration to fund awards to be presented to a senior boy and girl at the end of the school year. The money is to be used by recipients to help with post-secondary education expenses.
But the funds aren�t collected with the passing of a hat. Instead, participating staff pay $15 per semester (or $20 per year if they pay before the end of the first nine weeks) for the privilege of wearing jeans on two Fridays a month. The money is deposited into a trust and agency account until student recipients are named.
�We at the high school really like our ?casual days,� although the district prefers we present a more professional side most of the time,� said Patty Larsen, a VHS counselor. �Dollars for Scholars, however, is a worthy endeavor that sneaks in our need for comfort at the same time.�
Larsen, who lives in Elk Point, had heard about a similar program from friends in the Elk Point-Jefferson School District. She proposed the idea to VHS Principal Doug Tuetken, who in turn ran it by Superintendent Robert Mayer.
�We then proposed the idea to the staff about a month ago,� Larsen said. �Everybody was enthusiastic about it because it gives us a chance to do something good for students and be comfortable on two Fridays of the month.�
Nearly 100 percent of the VHS staff are participating, Larsen added.
�This year, since it started so late in the second semester, Dollars for Scholars only cost staff members $10,� she said. �So the first award will be smaller than what future years will be. Still, I think we�ll have about $200 to award to each student at the end of the school year.�
The two recipients of the Dollars for Scholars award will be chosen by lottery from a pool of applicants who must meet several criteria:
? They must qualify to be an Honors Program graduate;
? They must have participated in a minimum of two school extra/co-curricular activities;
? They must have a minimum of one community service activity;
? They must be committed to some type of post-secondary education;
? They must fill out an application listing this information.
�The money is designated as an ?award� rather than a ?scholarship�,� Larsen said at the March 27 Vermillion School Board meeting. �It will also be made out to the student, not to an educational institution, so it won�t interfere with any financial aid the student may be getting.�
The Dollars for Scholars idea was praised by the school board, which approved the program that evening. District Business Manager Sheila Donnelly has set up a trust and agency account to hold the program�s funds.