North Clarion alumni award scholarship

North Clarion 2019 valedictorian Jana Thomas (center) received the district’s first North Clarion Alumni Scholarship of $1,000 in May from North Clarion Class of 1969 representatives Jean Kaye (left) and Ken Borland (right).

North Clarion alumni award scholarship

FRILLS CORNERS Months of work involving North Clarion alumni and the North Clarion Foundation paid off May 29 literally.

After spreading the word and collecting donations, the first North Clarion Alumni Scholarship for $1,000 was awarded to Jana Thomas, 2019 North Clarion valedictorian.

Thomas is hopefully the first of a long line of graduates to receive a monetary award upon graduation for being top of the class.

About the award

Last May, North Clarion 1971 graduate Dan Gordon decided to provide a scholarship for the valedictorian of the class of 2021.

Concerned district valedictorians weren't receiving many awards, Gordon generated a plan to provide a North Clarion Alumni Scholarship. He assembled a group to contribute money and efforts and approached the district.

Discussion led to the idea of a one-time donation becoming an ongoing scholarship through an endowment. Funds could be perpetuated from interest earned on the endowment, which the North Clarion Foundation was willing to manage. Gordon wanted to set a minimum $500 scholarship, but to build an endowment to support that would take years.

In the meantime, Gordon challenged the classes of 1969, 1970 and 1972 to join the class of 1971 to fund a series of Challenge Scholarships to go to valedictorians graduating 50 years after each class. The minimum scholarship amount was $500.

The Class of 1969 raised $1,000 for the 2019 scholarship. The Class of 1969 representatives Jean Kaye and Ken Borland presented the 2019 scholarship to Thomas May 29.

Rest of the challenge

Each of the other classes in the Challenge has raised at least $800, with the Class of 1971 raising $1,500 to date. Meanwhile, classes outside the Challenge are funding the endowment, which is now at 20 percent of its initial goal.

Due to the volume of response, awarding a second scholarship is being discussed. Once donations reach $1,500, the valedictorian receives $1,000 and a second scholarship of $500 would be awarded. This second scholarship would increase when funds reached $2,000. Any donations over $2,000 would go to the endowment.

Initially, the second scholarship was to be awarded to salutatorians. After talking with local businesses, alumni and school administration, it was decided the second scholarship might better benefit a graduate with the highest GPA going to a trade or technical school. Details are still being discussed.

Efforts going forward

A number of alumni have volunteered to help raise funds for the scholarships and endowment. The primary method for fundraising has been to send out donation letters to alumni. This is a large endeavor, with over 60 years of graduation classes eligible to donate. The team is starting with graduates from the late 1950s and working toward the present.

North Clarion alumnus Rick Rathfon is also organizing a golf tournament at Clarion Oaks on July 13 to raise money for the endowment. He is currently looking for volunteers and teams.

Information about the scholarship and endowment is available on the North Clarion Alumni Association Facebook page and on the North Clarion website