The Weyauwega-Fremont High School Class of 1962 celebrated its 50-year reunion by investing in the future.
Its investment was in the form of three scholarships to members of this year's graduating class.
"The Class of 1962 Memorial Schoalrship is given in memory of those classmates lost too soon and in honor of parents and teachers, who inpsired, led and influenced. These scholarships symbolize the characteristics the class feels exemplify them - strength, compassion and integrity - and the belief that we all have a responsibility to assist and improve the lives of others," wrote Carole (Reek) Nemec, a member of the Class of 1962 and among those who worked to develop the scholarship.
During the Class of 2012's commencement ceremony, held Friday, June 1, in the high school gym, she and fellow classmate Jim Steinberg presented $1,962 scholarships to Kaitlyn Gilbert, Jared Gruetzmacher and Alisha Kloehn.
This is the first time in W-F class reunion history that three scholarships, in the amount of $1,962 each, were independently developed and funded by the class.
"The goal is to promote classes behind us," Nemec said, following last Friday's graduation ceremony.
It was her idea to develop the scholarship.
"I thought it was a significant reunion for us and thought, 'What could we do?'" she said.
The Class of 1962 could have presented a plaque to the school, but Nemec asked what purpose that would have served, except to glorify themselves.
"I called the people who would have been considered the leaders of our class and polled them about what they thought about doing a scholarship. All were favorable," she said.
Nemec, who worked in education for 30 years, said giving to the fund was voluntary and private, with the scholarships being from the entire class.
She made contact with District Administrator Scott Bleck and high school guidance counselor Carie Kollat and wrote a letter to those who graduated with her about the plan to raise funds for a scholarship.
"As soon as the letters went out, within four to five days, my mailbox was full of checks," Nemec said. "The whole project has been beyond my expectations."
Soon, there was enough to award two scholarships, and many of her classmates did not learn until graduation night that they had indeed raised enough to award three scholarships.
A committee of four that included Nemec and Steinberg, who also worked in education, ranked the students who applied for the scholarship.
The Class of 1962 was polled about what criteria they wanted. "I took all their input and wrote the scholarship based on that," said Nemec, who also worked as a grant writer.
The criteria included student involvement, community service, having a grade point average of at least 3.0 and attending W-F High School all four year, financial need and leadership.
Those who applied also had to write two essays - chosen from a list of about 12 topics - and include two sealed letters or recommendation with their application.
There were eight applicants, and Nemec said, "It was a hard decision. It was not done lightly."
She said the Class of 1962 did not present the scholarships to receive accolades for themselves.
They believe it takes a village to raise a child and that to whom much is given, much is expected, she said.
"We all feel we had a good upbringing in this small town and wanted to give back," Nemec said.
Those who attended the commencement ceremony were excited for the Class of 2012, and their main goal is to keep the momentum going by seeing other classes do the same thing.
"Imagine what impact we can have on these small communities," said Nemec, who lives in a suburban Houston community that she said is about the size of Weyauwega.
In the fall, Gilbert will head to the University of South Carolina, Gruetzmacher will go to the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, and Kloehn will go to UW-Stevens Point.
The Class of 1962 celebrated its 50-year reunion on Saturday, June 2.
"I know because of this scholarship, our reunion is probably the biggest reunion we've ever had, and we've lost 17 classmates," Nemec said. "It's our 50th, and we also have seven of our teachers coming - another record. The total attendance will be 62 including guests and teachers. This past year and a half has just been wonderful."
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