It's near the end of the school year and school career with all that entails: award ceremonies, prom, graduation parties, registering for university courses, figuring out what to bring to the dorm room, trying to avoid thinking about saying goodbye, wondering just how much I can change her bedroom without her feeling like she's been cast aside the second she leaves for college.
As I glanced at the program at the latest award ceremony, I quickly gathered that I wouldn't have to pay too much attention to the first several categories: Art, Science, Math. Nope, not much chance of needing to scootch my legs in so Chloe could get by to walk to the front of the commons to receive a photocopied certificate. Band, Drama, Debate, Military and Athletic. Negative again. Likewise, we can relax during the Vocational & Technology Education Awards.
One is invited to the Achievement Awards only if one has received an award (they don't tell you for what), but Chloe joked that she was certain her invitation was a mistake. Whew, toward the end and before we had to leave early to catch the ferry home, she had to stand up for the International Awards (essentially any student who has been to, or is from, another country - alas, no photocopied certificate), then a couple for Honor Society (which we've also heard nothing about, but she's wearing the gold cord and small medal at graduation nonetheless). She's happy because she has some decoration to wear on her graduation gown. And because she deserves it.
If only we'd known the details of these awards at the start of Chloe's high school career we could have directed her to more lucrative extracurricular activities. A group of people in the community formed a foundation to collect scholarship money offered by people in memory of loved ones, former students and teachers, from businesses on the island, etc. To date they've distributed over $1 million, and last week they gave 89 seniors in Chloe's class over $100,000. Keep in mind that this is an island with a population of only 11,000, and this is only one of the many extraordinary things these people do.
Any senior who submits a scholarship notebook (small binders and detailed instructions are provided), and who doesn't have their notebook yanked because of a grievous infraction, gets money. When Christopher was a senior I suggested he not submit a notebook because he worked only as hard as he had to in school and there were other people who deserved the money much more than him. Some kids don't submit notebooks because they have plenty of money for college and want to leave a bigger pie for the rest of the students to divide. Christopher readily agreed (the notebooks are a lot of work to put together), but Chloe has worked hard and she was excited to participate.
I've heard that they try for a minimum of $250 for each student. Some kids get much more than that. One of the scholarships, in memory of a much-loved, youngish teacher who died a few years ago, is for $4,000. Another family gives 5, $1,000 scholarships each year. After the ceremony, along with their thank-you notes, the students return a form to the committee that gives the details of their chosen school (or that they choose to defer the award until they choose a school) and the committee forwards the money to the school on the student's behalf. No, they don't get checks to finance their summer adventures.
After attending the scholarship awards I now know where the big money is: art, science, music, and athletics. Being an overall genius helps, too, and there are a couple of those in Chloe's class. Chloe collected $750 from two scholarships, which she is deferring until St Andrews. I come from a background that tends to believe that higher education is something that rich people get: it's nice to have, but is not necessarily obtainable. Consequently, I've gone a little overboard on ensuring that our kids know that a college degree is not an option for them: they can pump gas if they want, after they get their degrees. So it still surprises me a little when I realize that most people don't consider high school the end of their formal education, and enough people think it important enough to give lots of money to kids they'll never meet to help make higher education possible.