Archive for Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Shouts and Murmurs: After 64 years, trend ontinues

May 21, 2003

Ariel Dowdle was hoping for a scholarship.

And she got one.

Ariel, and Billy Ottens, both were recipients of this year's Corinne Miller Memorial Scholarship, awarded by Peruvian Connection.

That means both THS graduates are eligible to receive $1,500 during their first year of college.

For Billy, who says he's on his own when it comes to paying for college, and for Dowdle, it will make a big difference.

"I was relieved," said Ariel, who plans to attend Kansas University. "KU couldn't offer me any music or academic scholarships, so it will definitely help with my tuition next year."

But the scholarship, started in 1939 by Corinne and Charles Miller, was more than just a scholarship -- it was a trendsetter. When the Millers started it, there were few, if any, local scholarships.

In Tonganoxie this year, 31 local scholarships were awarded to 44 THS college-bound graduates. Kathy Walker, THS counselor, said the scholarships totaled $30,550.

There's more.

"A few of the scholarships are renewable," Walker added, naming the Florence Riford, Community National Bank and the Maureen Mills scholarships.

If students on the renewable scholarships continue to fulfill the requirements of the scholarship, they will receive the money for each year of college.

If these scholarships are renewed for all four years, that would translate to a whopping $55,300 worth of locally generated scholarships for the THS class of 2003.

Of the one-year scholarships, the Corinne Miller Memorial is the largest.

"It was begun to encourage students to finance their education," said Walker, who added that both Charles and Corinne Miller had served as president of the Tonganoxie board of education.

The family set a precedent.

This year when the Millers' daughters, Biddy Hurlbut and Helen Sencenbaugh, presented the scholarships, they could see their parents' legacy firsthand as the dozens of scholarship recipients crossed the stage.

Tonganoxie's giving nature is the exception, rather than the rule, Walker said.

"If you look at the schools of our size in eastern Kansas, there's probably not money given by organizations and other benefactors that really makes them outstanding," Walker said.

Qualifications for the scholarships are written by the people who created them. Each has different criteria.

"Sometimes it's grades, sometimes it's what they're going to major in in college and sometimes they have to have good attendance," Walker said. "It just depends on the people who created it."

The local scholarships are set up so that no more than one student receives one. The exception is the $100 Beatty scholarship, which always goes to the valedictorian. The recipient, who this year was Andrew Becker, is eligible for one more local scholarship. Becker also received the Florence Riford renewable scholarship.

Walker said she frequently reminds the recipients how lucky they are.

"Normally, I tell the kids, 'You are being given a gift because people believe in you and want to encourage you in your future,'" Walker said.

The gifts are appreciated, said Walker, who noted that this year a record 69 students applied for local scholarships.

Ariel Dowdle, an "almost 4.0 high school student," is doubly aware of the impact of scholarships. Her twin brother, Josh, also plans to go to KU where he will major in electrical engineering. Ariel guessed that KU will cost about $12,000 a year for each of them. But Josh received the renewable Riford scholarship, which will help.

Walker said students such as Ariel are grateful for the generosity of the community in providing scholarships.

"I would say so," Walker said. "I think any money you receive to help you go on is a gift."

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