JERSEY SHORE - To commemorate the upcoming 50th anniversary of their graduation, the Jersey Shore Area High School Class of 1960 has decided to create a perpetual scholarship fund. More specifically, their intent is to offer a $1,000 college scholarship each year to a graduate of the high school.
The idea originated with classmates Bonnie Moyer Powell and Sandy Schiavo Laszlo, who had formed a renewed friendship at the class's now annual reunions, which began at the 40th year get-together in 2000.
In 2007, Powell and Laszlo, while enjoying a self-proclaimed "Thelma and Louise" car trip together from Florida to Jersey Shore, decided on initiating an effort to establish a class scholarship.
PHOTO COURTESY OF SANDY SCHIAVO LASZLO
Bonnie Moyer Powell, left, dressed as her persona, Louise; and Sandy Schiavo Laszlo, dressed as Thelma, peruse a July 2008 yard sale in Jersey Shore for the Class of 1960’s scholarship fund. Powell and Laszlo are graduates of that class.
While cruising along Interstate 75 North, they called classmates on their cell phones, asking them their opinions of the idea.
Responses were favorable. Tim Merkel, who lives in Winchester, Va., and who already had experience setting up scholarship funding, invited them to stop and meet with him for lunch on their way north.
After that meeting and the end of their car drive together - which happily didn't end in a high-speed police pursuit and the classmates' self-destruction barreling off Colton Point into the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon - progress toward establishing the scholarship began in earnest.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Raffle, bingo, silent auction, entertainment
WHEN: Noon to 8 p.m. Saturday, May 2
WHERE: Jersey Shore Moose Lodge 214, 207 N. Main St.
WHY: To raise money for the Jersey Shore Area High School Class of 1960 Scholarship Fund
CONTACT: Bonnie Powell at 398-0884
First, Laszlo sent a letter to all 135 surviving classmates, explaining the idea about endowing a scholarship and asking for feedback. The response was overwhelmingly positive.
To determine how the scholarship would be managed and administered, Powell and Laszlo searched the Internet and talked with people who had experience establishing scholarships. Eventually, they came upon the Williamsport-Lycoming Community Foundation, which provides services to non-profit organizations in Lycoming County. Among those services is the administration of scholarship funds.
Next came a meeting early in 2008 between a group of the Class of 1960 classmates and Jersey Shore Area High School Principal Mary Thomas. A steering committee was formed and it was decided to go ahead with plans to meet with the Foundation to begin the process of setting up the scholarship fund.
Instructed by the Foundation first to assess how much financial aid could be raised, the steering committee began by sending to every class member a request for a pledge, either a one-time or an over-three-year-period amount. Additional ways of raising money also were decided.
The first was a yard sale held over the week of the 2008 Fourth of July Jersey Shore Town Meeting. A male classmate showed up with a trunkload of collectible dolls that he donated. Those and other items netted more than $1,000.
As a result of the success, the yard sale will be held again during this summer's Town Meeting.
Other unique and notable money raisers occurred. Charlie Bierly, a classmate who lives in New Jersey, added music to a DVD he had created earlier consisting of his photographs of a Pine Creek canyon raft trip and the Rails to Trails walking and bicycling path. He then made copies and donated them to be sold, with all proceeds going to the scholarship fund.
Classmates bought them at their annual picnic, and they have been selling at local stores in Jersey Shore and along Pine Creek Valley.
Classmate June Oechler Underwood, a retired English professor living in Portland, Ore., was one who purchased a copy of Bierly's DVD. Also a well-respected artist, Underwood contacted Bierly and received his permission to create a number of oil paintings based on his DVD photographs. Underwood then offered the paintings for sale, again with all proceeds going to the scholarship fund.
To keep classmates informed and to increase their participation in the project, steering committee members have made use of the Internet, cell phones and mail. One example involved classmate Lee Durrwachter, who lives in Michigan, offering his Vonage phone to hold conference calls with classmates in Virginia, Maryland, Georgia and Pennsylvania.
So far, $15,000 has been raised, but an additional $10,000 is needed to enable the funds to be invested to provide a $1,000 scholarship annually, hopefully "forever." A major effort toward obtaining this additional necessary funding will occur this coming Saturday.
On that day, a fundraising event will be held in the Jersey Shore Moose Lodge 214 Family Room, at 207 N. Main St., from noon to 8 p.m. It will include a raffle with a first prize of $500, bingo and a silent auction. Food will be sold all day.
Both the raffle and silent auction will be conducted from noon until 7:30 p.m. Participants will not need to be present at the end to receive any items or prizes won.
Among the donated items are a quilt made by Darlene Baird of South Williamsport (widow of classmate Dalton Baird), pottery created by David Berfield of Washington state, and a macrame chair with a Penn State theme crafted by John Truax of Jersey Shore.
At 4 p.m., the Fairplay Brass perform. Two of the musicians, Wayne Peer and Wayne Welshans, are members of the Class of 1960.
Between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m., cash award bingo will be offered.
Of the unexpected rewards of this scholarship project created a half-century after graduation from high school, Sandy Laszlo said, "As a result of these contacts, it has been exciting getting to know about the lives of classmates and the experiences they have had. And, spending time with people we knew as children and teens takes us back to those days and makes us feel younger.
"In addition, we have also built connections with former teachers, including our English teacher, Miss Joanna Waite; our algebra teacher, Dr. Lester Kleckner; and our class adviser, Mr. Daniel Hinkel. The latter, with his wife, Lois, actually began the fundraising effort by providing us with what they termed 'seed money.'
"The connections have included some of the spouses of classmates who are deceased. These spouses have become honorary members of our class.
"Finally, the really great outcome of this scholarship project is the way classmates have contributed their time and talents and how we have come to appreciate the connections that have endured over 50 years," Laszlo said.
For more information on the Jersey Shore Area High School Class of 1960, their scholarship project, and Saturday's scholarship fund-raising event at the Moose, contact Bonnie Powell at 398-0884 or at email@example.com.