It was my pleasure recently to attend the Scholarship Awards ceremony at Rappahannock County High School. When I arrived I was impressed, though not surprised, to find the auditorium full and abuzz with fresh-faced and bright students, dressed for an important occasion, eager with anticipation and full of accomplishment. With the good leadership of Jason Gochenaur, RCHS’ director of guidance, and the support of Paula Howland, director of the Headwaters Foundation’s Next Step Program, these students had worked hard, achieved great success and are ready to move on to college and trade schools.
What impressed me further, however, was my revelation that the Scholarship Awards program is not just a celebration of the students’ success. It is a reflection of the community’s generosity. Like gentle and encouraging hands, families, businesses and civic organizations have extended the financial resources that will grant opportunities many of the students may have only dreamed of.
I watched as awards were given so these students may pursue nursing, farming and teaching, for example. Other scholarships will provide the resources to encourage the study of the arts and engineering. Still others were given because their donor simply wants to make education an affordable opportunity.
These awards were thoughtfully designed and generated by businesses, civic organizations, longtime Rappahannock families and relative newcomers. Many of the scholarships have been given in memory of wise or promising members of the community.
In the last five years, $140,000 has been donated to the Headwaters Foundation to fund scholarships for Rappahannock students, and more has been given individually to further support college-bound young people. This year’s seniors received an impressive $62,000.
Congratulations and thank you to the RCHS 2012 scholars, organizations like the Headwaters Foundation and other generous backers of the Scholarship Awards. And thank you for showing me the power of a small community when it stretches itself to make a big difference.