5/21/2014 12:28:00 PM Scholarship foundation marks 50th year
During its 50th year, the board of directors of the Rice Lake Area Scholarship Foundation is made up of the following officers and board members: Back row, from left, are Eric Pelle, vice president; Greg Swanson and Robin Severson, board members; Steve Tangwall, treasurer; and Sharon Peterson, board member. Front row, from left, are Jean Schmitzer, board member; Mickey Gabriel, secretary; and Aaron Marsh, board member. Missing from photo is Sue Nelson, president.
Ruth Erickson Chronotype staff
This spring marks the 50th year that the Rice Lake Area Scholarship Foundation has been awarding funds to Rice Lake High School seniors to help them further their education at universities or technical colleges. This year 16 members of the Class of 2014 will each receive a $750 scholarship at a May 30 awards banquet. A half century ago, 28 seniors in the Class of 1964 received scholarships. Three were $250 awards; two were $200 awards; 18 were $100 awards; and five were $50 awards. In the 50 years since those first scholarships were given, a half million dollars has been raised locally and given to more than 750 students. "It is felt that this investment in youth is the most worthwhile project a community can undertake," is a statement recorded in the foundation's first minutes. That statement continues to be the underlying mission of the nonprofit foundation, that is open to all individuals and organizations in the Rice Lake area.
Headed by hilfiker The organizational meeting of the RLASF took place Jan. 27, 1964 in the Rice Lake High School auditorium. Guidance counselor J. Bruce Tasker presided with faculty member Mrs. John (Delores) O'Brien as acting secretary. Also present was principal Willard Swanson. However, it was felt that parents should take the most action roles on the foundation, not faculty. Elected as officers were Mrs. Ernest (Hilda) Hilfiker, president; Reinhart Johnson, vice president; Mrs. Ron (Alice) Johnson, secretary; and Gifford Bailey, treasurer. Founders proposed a nine-member board of directors, with members to serve 3-year terms with three positions up for election or re-election each year. To get the process started, directors served 3-, 2- and 1-year terms. Hilfiker, Reinhart Johnson and John Marcon were elected to 3-year terms; Bailey and Dan Rogstad were elected to 2-year terms; and Mrs. John Johnson and Mrs. Myron (Evelyn) Mommsen were elected to 1-year terms. In addition, three committee chairs were established. Mrs. Clarence Chatt was chair of the bylaws committee, Francis Parks was chair of the scholarship award committee, and George Mills was chair of membership. The original membership fee of $1 per individual is still the same.
Perpetual program The first scholarship fund drive raised $4,563. Of that, $3,000 was awarded in scholarships with the $1,563 balance invested locally as part of a permanent interest-bearing fund to help perpetrate the scholarship program. The investment plan worked, with the foundation now only using interest off of the principal, along with donations, for the scholarship awards. A large, one-time memorial donation was given to the foundation in memory of the late Delores O'Brien, who helped to establish the foundation. In addition, several RLHS classes that have held reunions have donated their leftover funds to the foundation. After one of its reunions, the Class of 1979 donated funds for a scholarship to the person who graduated 79th in their class. Another class from the 1950s asked that their donation be put into the principal so their gift will continue to give forever. Treasurer Steve Tangwall said "Any organization or anybody who donates $750 will get a scholarship given in their name." Two past scholarship winners shared what receiving that gift from the foundation meant to them. Holly Estreen, a teacher at Rice Lake High School, received a scholarship as the former Holly Olson, a 2001 graduate of Rice Lake High School. "The Rice Lake Scholarship served as a reminder that it takes a community to raise a child," Estreen said. "Receiving the scholarship was inspiration for me to obtain a degree that would allow me to return to my hometown in order to give back what had been given to me. Now as a teacher at the high school, I want nothing more than to positively impact my students and the town that gave me so much." Randy Drost, principal of Hilltop and Haugen elementary schools, said, "Being a recipient of a scholarship from the Rice Lake Area Scholarship Foundation was very important to me. It let me know that those on the selection committee had enough confidence in me to make an investment in my future. As I was working in college, knowing that I had received financial support from the foundation added an extra level of accountability in understanding that others had given me a gift, and I wanted to show that it was put to good use." Tangwall said some past scholarship winners have paid back, or rather forward, the scholarship they have received.
The next 50 years Present officers are Sue Nelson, president; Eric Pelle, vice president; Mickey Gabriel, secretary; and Steve Tangwall, treasurer. Other board members are Greg Swanson, Robin Severson, Sharon Peterson, Jean Schmizer and Aaron Marsh. Nelson said, "With the support of the community, the Scholarship Foundation has been able to help many students to further their education over the past 50 years. "With so many qualifying students each year, it can and has been a difficult decision on choosing the students. Even though we would like to be able to give out more scholarships each year, we are limited based on available funds. With the support of the community, the Scholarship Foundation strives to continue to help the students in our community to further their education making it a little more affordable." The Scholarship Foundation conducts an annual meeting each February in the lower level of the Rice Lake Public Library. All who have given $1 or more to the foundation are invited to attend. The foundation's board of directors meets four times a year-monthly February through May. Any who would like to serve on the foundation are welcome to talk to any of the current board members. Most of the current board members have occupations in banking or insurance. Donations to or more information about the nonprofit can be addressed to: Rice Lake Area Scholarship Foundation, P.O. Box 229, Rice Lake, WI 54868. Or contact the Rice Lake High School for more information at 715-234-2181, Ext. 5025.
Posted: Saturday, May 24, 2014
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