Each year, Waupaca High School’s graduating class has countless opportunities to apply for and receive college scholarships.
“The amount has gone up every year,” said Jeff Dolski, who is one of two guidance counselors at the high school.
The Class of 2011 received more than $900,000 in scholarships, he said.
That amount included $541,500 from private universities, $129,800 from public colleges, $18,000 from the state, $169,250 from the high school’s scholarship foundation, $6,100 from Waupaca High School and $75,100 from other sources.
The $18,000 from the state is for its Academic Excellence Scholarship Program, awarded to high school seniors who have the highest grade point average in each public and private high school throughout the state.
The $6,100 from WHS includes such scholarships as the visual arts and student council scholarships.
The “other” category includes random scholarships from clubs or businesses.
The breakdown shows that the Waupaca High School Scholarship Foundation is second to private universities in the scholarship amount given to graduating seniors.
“I don’t know how many schools in the state can brag that they raise $170,000 for scholarships,” Dolski said of the foundation.
Formed in early 1994, the foundation works with individuals and groups to match their interests with scholarship opportunities.
Jay Krcmar is the president of the foundation. He said some want their scholarship to go to a student planning to study a particular field, such as science.
Others want to give out a scholarship to attend a particular school, he said.
This link – www.waupaca.k12.wi.us/hs/h_whsscholarshipapp.cfm – shows which scholarships were available for the Class of 2011 and gives this year’s seniors and their parents an idea of what the process involves.
Dolski said another focus of the high school’s scholarship foundation is to give general fund scholarships to students who are not always awarded the named scholarships.
Krcmar said, “We try to give as many as we can. The last five to six years, we’ve given ten $750 scholarships. The high school scholarship foundation is trying to meet the needs of students who don’t know what they want to study or maybe their field is not particularly specific that the named scholarships do.”
Each year, the foundation likes to give 5 percent of the amount it has, he said.
“We have done a general push quietly for money,” Krcmar said.
This year, the board plans to hold fundraising events to increase the amount of money in the foundation’s general fund.
“We have had to dip into the principle the last two years,” he said. “We haven’t specifically asked for money because of the times, but now that we have had to dip into it, we feel we have to get out there and raise more funds for the general fund.”
Krcmar said the foundation does not set the parameters for named scholarships.
Those interested in establishing a named scholarship may contact Krcmar at Farmers State Bank. At WHS, the contacts are Dolski and Marcy Bauman, who is also a guidance counselor at the high school.
“We’re just very blessed to give scholarships in their names,” Krcmar said. “When I sit on the committee, it’s amazing how talented the high school students are. Besides classes, there’s extracurriculars, community service, and they’re also working. They do many things, and it’s neat to help them with the next phase of their life.”
He said some who give named scholarships decide which students will receive those scholarships. Others associated with named scholarships have the committee make the decisions.
“A lot of applications are based on extracurriculars and community service,” Krcmar said.
Each March, the high school receives information about the scholarships that are available. The application deadline is then in early April.
The application process gives students the opportunity to sell themselves.
Krcmar said the foundation’s committee likes to meet after the individuals and groups that choose their own scholarship recipients have already made their decisions.
They do so because the foundation wants to maximize the number of students that will receive scholarships, he said.
A cross section of the community makes up the committee, and each member sees different things in the applications, having the opportunity to impress those things upon the group.
“Everyone’s idea of scholarship is different,” Krcmar said. “Some just think about need. Others think it should be the ones who are maximizing their potential.”
Dolski said the perception is that scholarships are only for 4.0 students and those who are out to save the world. There are scholarships for all types of students and all types of needs,” he said.
If a student tackles a scholarship search like it’s a part-time job and puts five hours in over a 20-week period and receives a $5,000 award, it is a nice hourly rate and worth the time, Dolski said.
Those who give scholarships to WHS graduates get to tell their own stories during the annual awards ceremony, which is held several days before graduation.
Krcmar said, “We’re very gracious. We appreciate all the businesses and individuals that have given to the foundation every year. With college costs going up, students need it even more.”
He invites others to get involved in the foundation, saying they are always looking for more volunteers.
“If everyone saw the resumes (of the students), they would be very impressed by what our students are doing,” Krcmar said. “That is what scholarships are trying to do – to reward these wonderful kids for what they are doing in school, in the community and in the workforce.”