Wiesbaden program raises money for college-bound seniors

By MARK PATTON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 4, 2009

WIESBADEN, Germany — Over 700 people gathered at Wiesbaden High School Saturday afternoon to take part in a program designed to help high school seniors and their families offset the costs of college.

T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan "We’ve served our time" graced the backs of Wiesbaden High senior students and their parents at the Big Bucks for College third annual Family Fun Fest held at Wiesbaden High School. Activities included carnival favorites such as the dunk tank, face-painting and games. Student performances, music by the 1st Armored Division Band, a flea market, auction, tae kwon do demonstration and plenty of food, hot off the grill, were also featured.

The program, modeled after Buc Night in Baumholder, raises money for high school seniors through various events, with the total split amongst eligible seniors at Wiesbaden High. They can use the money as they see fit, whether for tuition, books, laptops or pizza.

Money is raised throughout the year but Saturday’s events were "where we raise the big bucks," said Bernie Reichel, parent chairperson and organizer.

To qualify for the program, seniors must volunteer 10 hours with Big Bucks and have an acceptance letter from a college or vocational school, said Reichel, who estimates between 35 and 40 students will benefit from this year’s program. Reichel said it won’t be clear how much money was raised until later in the month, but he hopes the program will put at least $20,000 in the pockets of this year’s graduating class.

Harvard University-bound Christine Ashton didn’t seem preoccupied with the actual amount that would end up in her pocket from the Big Bucks program.

"It’s fun and it is nice to help out," said Ashton as she urged people to make their way to the cake walk, a game similar to musical chairs, where competitors vied for homemade cakes.

The next Big Bucks event, Polish Pottery Bingo, will be held at 5:30 p.m. on May 8 in Wiesbaden High School’s main gym.

Henry Penzien, 9, pleads to be released from jail at Saturday’s Big Bucks for College Family Fun Fest. People could buy tickets to “lock up” their friends for a certain amount of time.

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