Letters to the Editor

The scholarship foundation process is not a fair one | Letter to the Editor

A letter in last week’s Beachcomber about the Vashon Community Scholarship Foundation (VCSF) brought back memories of two of my kids’ experiences while at Vashon High School.

My daughter graduated 11 years ago. Billed as an event to celebrate VHS’s graduating seniors, some scholarship sponsors talked at length about “their” recipients, while others did little more than call out the student’s name. One student was going to college on a full military scholarship and had withdrawn his name from consideration prior to the assembly. Several donors still talked about his achievements, suggesting the actual recipient they selected was second choice.

My son graduated in 2003. Those who know him know he’s extraordinarily compassionate and empathetic. It was difficult to watch because one of his friends was called up five or six times before my son was called the first time, and his name wasn’t called out until at least one and a half hours into the ceremony. Others waited even long-er. One young man, who probably waited in that hot auditorium more than two hours until his name was called, went up on stage, shook the hands of the donors and then walked out the door because he knew his name wouldn’t be called again.

On their website, VCSF states that its “scholarships celebrate achievement, empower students and acknowledge donors.” The unspoken selling point is that Vashon’s graduating seniors are being celebrated so long as they complete their scholarship notebooks. From what I have observed, VCSF celebrates a few students and unintentionally humiliates most of the others.

There is a better way to celebrate Vashon’s graduating seniors. Divide all of the money — except $500 — equally among the students. Donors, randomly matched with the names of graduating seniors, spend up to two minutes talking about their student’s achievements. The point would be to truly celebrate every student’s achievements.

And that last $500? The scholarship committee and school staff would award $100 certificates to the best scholar, best athlete, best overall student, the student who made the most difference in his/her community and perhaps the student who has come the farthest academically.

This way, every graduating student would be appreciated by the entire community. And what a gift that would be.


— Gayle Sommers



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