Graduation 2007: Wiesbaden holds events to raise scholarship money
Stars and Stripes June 6, 2007
WIESBADEN, Germany — High school is important, there’s no doubt about that.
But there’s more to life than math, English and social studies.
There are sports, clubs and, not least of all, the social networking that comes with them that helps students hone the skills necessary to succeed in life after high school.
But grade point average, for better or for worse, is often the determining factor in separating those who get a helping hand with college costs from those who don’t.
Nevertheless, students don’t have to be left out of the college scholarship free-for-all just because they focused more on friends than on their SAT scores — at least not at Wiesbaden High School.
“Most scholarships are based on a high GPA, but there are some average kids who want to go to college, too,” said Yvette Teal, chairwoman for Wiesbaden’s first Big Bucks for College fundraiser.
The fundraising group, run by the parents of Wiesbaden High School seniors, donated their time to ensure that not just the top academic performers got a little help in realizing their post-high school education goals.
It wasn’t a new idea. Peter Witmer, Wiesbaden’s schools liaison officer, saw what had been done with a similar program at Baumholder, a smaller school, and thought, “If Baumholder could do it, we should be able to do it.”
At last year’s graduation, Teal watched as a small cadre of Wiesbaden’s academic all-stars walked away with all the scholarships and thought, “The wealth of all these scholarships isn’t being distributed among all the students who plan to further their education after high school.”
Most scholarships require at least a 3.0, and the majority probably have that, “but there are some that are probably running right on that 2.99,” she said.
So Witmer, Teal and a bunch of other high school parents got together to start their own Big Bucks to raise money for all graduating Wiesbaden seniors who planned to continue their education.
They started out with a lofty goal — $1,000 for every graduating senior. With a graduating class of some 110 students, that was no short order.
With two major fundraising events down and one to go, Teal had significantly lowered her expectations by the beginning of May. Wiesbaden’s Big Bucks had raised just about $3,500, and about 60 seniors planned to go to some sort of school after graduation.
But most of the senior class pulled together, along with senior parents and other community members, to make the final fundraiser — the Big Bucks for College carnival, auction and entertainment program — the success that would give students something worth all the hard work.
In the end, the program raised more than $17,000, with help of donations from local groups, businesses and individuals. The money will be divided evenly among all qualifying seniors.
To qualify, seniors must have donated their time to at least one of the three fundraisers, which included a talent show and beauty pageant in addition to the carnival. They also must be able to submit proof of acceptance into a trade school, college or other educational institution along with their application for Big Bucks money.
Each qualifying senior gets the scholarship in hand — it doesn’t go to their school — so how it’s spent is totally within their discretion.
Kellis Nobles, who took a pie in the face to help raise money for Big Bucks, said taking the hit was “the right thing to do” because it was all about helping raise money for the program. He said he’ll use his portion — as did many other seniors — to buy “books, books and more books.”