Hey, high school juniors. This is for you and your parents, grandparents, guardians or foster parents.
Yes, this school year — as crazy and different as it has been from any other — is quickly winding down. Yes, you’re eager for summer vacation to start, even though we really may not quite yet know what the summer routine may look like in these days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And yes, you’re excited, maybe a little apprehensive, about becoming seniors.
But if you’re a junior planning to attend college or trade school after graduation in the spring of 2021, the Community Foundation of Jackson County needs to share some information with you as you consider all of the steps that will take you to campus.
And we encourage this year’s high school juniors — and their parents — to become familiar with the deadline and requirements for applying for the 57 scholarships administered by the foundation.
By the way, our donors understand that a four-year college education isn’t for everyone.
Four of our scholarships aim to help graduating seniors further their education through vocational and technical education programs. These funds have been established to help area residents continue their education with the understanding that doing so doesn’t always mean attending a four-year college and earning a bachelor’s degree. They can help a graduating senior reach their occupational goal.
That means today’s high school juniors who don’t have their eyes set on earning a bachelor’s degree still should consider applying for a scholarship through the foundation.
Our common scholarship application form must be complete and submitted by Aug. 20 this summer, just a matter of days after we hope will be the start of your senior year. Applications are now available on the foundation’s website, cfjacksoncounty.org. No reason to wait. You can start now.
Foundation Vice President Sue Smith, who does much of the heavy lifting on our scholarship process, can answer questions about the application. She urges juniors to consider contacting teachers and others today — yes, this semester — about letters of recommendation. They’re a requirement of the application process.
Two letters of recommendation are required with a maximum of one from a teacher. The other may come from anyone who knows you well — perhaps a pastor, your employer, a supervisor where you volunteer or maybe a family friend.
Gathering those letters of recommendation now rather than when school starts in early August would surely save some time and stress later.
The foundation board of directors, staff and donors behind our scholarship funds hope to raise the level of educational attainment in our community and increase awareness of the opportunities to improve the quality of life in Jackson County.
Increasing educational attainment among Jackson County residents is an important part of the foundation’s mission to help grow better tomorrows.
Concern about the education levels here was a key factor when the foundation brought together other partners from the community, such as the Seymour Chamber of Commerce and the city of Seymour, to build the Jackson County Learning Center, which now also benefits from the financial support of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners, Jackson County Council and Seymour Redevelopment Commission.
The foundation’s efforts to improve educational opportunities extend beyond programs focused on college, however. They support the Jackson County Education Coalition’s On My Way Pre-K pilot program for 4-year-olds and the encouragement of workforce development in partnership with Jackson County Industrial Development Corp. and others.
Some of that work includes the creation of Owl Manufacturing at Seymour High School, the Jobs for America’s Graduates program at Brownstown Central High School and pre-K programs at Brownstown, Crothersville, Medora and Seymour elementary schools.
It may seem a little out of whack working with high school juniors and counselors now about spring 2021 scholarships when we’re about to distribute this year’s scholarship awards for the Class of 2020 (although even that delivery format remains up in the air right now), but it’s important that we make our juniors aware now of this important step that can help them and their parents finance their college educations.
Remember, the deadline is Aug. 20. This summer. Don’t forget. Again, you can start now.
Dan Davis is president and chief executive officer of the Community Foundation of Jackson County, 107 Community Drive, Seymour, IN 47274. For information about donating to the foundation, call 812-523-4483 or send an email to [email protected]. Send comments to [email protected].