July 27, 2020 -- Heights High’s graduate Class of 2020 has had to weather its fair share of disappointments this spring. But the rate at which students are attending post-secondary institutions and the impressive scholarship dollars they’ve been awarded did not disappoint.
The 420 students have been accepted at hundreds of colleges and universities across the country including top tier schools like Harvard, Columbia, Fordham, Howard, Macalaster, Middlebury, Morehouse, Northwestern, Spelman, Tufts, Tulane, University of North Carolina, University of Rochester, and Villanova, just to name a few.
They will travel to study all across the country, from Tennessee to Tampa to Boston, and even as far as Dublin, Ireland. Members of the class have also been offered admission to nearly every public and private institution across the state of Ohio, including an array of technical certification programs. And they’ve been awarded the dollars to make their attendance a reality.
Students were offered nearly $11M in academic scholarships, another $992,000 in athletic scholarships, over $15,000 in state and corporate gifts, and an impressive $95,250 in awards that came directly from the Heights community.
Jacqueline Blockson, the high school’s guidance technician whose primary focus is helping students and their families access scholarship opportunities, is “very proud of so many students and their families.” She works with them throughout the year, visiting students in their English classes, presenting at parent informational meetings and conducting a workshop at the Heights Family Academy called “How to Be Strategic in Finding Money for College.”
Unfortunately, the deadline for the community grants awarded by the high school was in mid-March, right when she no longer had easy access to the senior class. Ms. Blockson believes that students may have earned even more than the nearly $12M reported because she was unable to reach every family.
The community scholarships usually come from alumni or their families. This year, 47 seniors were honored with at least one award, with some earning many. Alaysia Brooks received $10,500 in community scholarships because she applied and qualified for every one. Isaiah Hamilton received $9,750 for the same reason. “I always tell them to never miss an opportunity to apply,” said Ms. Blockson.
Senior Corinne Flowers was awarded the prestigious John Lewis Scholarship, worth $10,000 while Ronelle Drakeford was named the Horatio Alger State Scholar that also came with a gift of $10,000.
Donors are often so inspired by the quality of the applications they receive that they find a way to give more scholarships than originally intended. That’s what happened with this year’s Samuel Appleton Career Tech scholarship, which is usually a gift of $1000 to one student. Because they received so many applications they felt worthy of the honor, they raised additional funds and were able to give one of $1,000 plus five more of $500 each.
The Brothers and Sisters Inc. Academic Excellence Scholarship, which celebrates the achievements of students of color, were in the same position. They usually award $500 to each of two seniors. But this anniversary year, the organization raised enough to give $1,000 to five students and another $500 legacy award to one.
The Heights Schools Foundation awarded over $25,000 in scholarships named mostly for Heights alumni or former Heights teachers. Julianna Johnston Senturia, Heights Class of 1987 and director of what used to be the alumni association, is most proud of the newly formed Tiger Fund. This a scholarship fund that anyone can contribute to, even with a small donation, that goes to students who are ready for college or technical school with demonstrated financial need.
This year, the Tiger Fund gave out four awards of $1,000 but “it isn’t enough,” said Ms. Johnston Senturia. She knows that money will make a difference, especially for a certification program or an associate’s degree. “But for a student in an engineering program, it might only cover half of the computer they need.”
“These are students who’ve shown they’re mature enough to do well in school, hold down part-time jobs, and do volunteer work. Don't we want to give these amazing kids, who’ve done everything right, the final push to help them go on to the next step?” She has high hopes for the future of the Tiger Fund.
And everyone should have high hopes for the future of the Class of 2020.