LEWISTON — More than $69,000 in local scholarship money was awarded to Johannesburg Lewiston High School students this year at the school’s senior awards ceremony May 31, at Congregational United Church in Lewiston.
Danica Nowak, Johannesburg-Lewiston High School counselor who helps students connect with awards and scholarships, said this year she has noticed an increase in community-based scholarships.
“It’s nice to see that the scholarship money is increasing because of course tuition rates are also going up,” Nowak said. “I really think that we have a generous community, and I think that’s awesome that our kids have the opportunity to be able to apply for some of these scholarships.”
She said many of the local individuals and groups who awarded scholarships to the recipients personally presented the awards. Twenty two of the 51 seniors received scholarships with some earning multiple awards.
While students are often pumped and ready to pursue scholarships in the fall, Nowak said most scholarships tend to become available January through April.
“The beginning of their senior year, that’s when they’re all coming to me wanting scholarships but local scholarships don’t become available until January,” Nowak said. “But then by January, graduation is getting closer and open house planning (is going on) and they get so busy with other stuff that scholarships might go by the wayside.”
During the school year, Nowak creates a monthly or bimonthly newsletter alerting students and parents to available scholarships. She said she tries to pair up students with the different scholarships they qualify for since each application has unique requirements.
Nowak’s advice for students is to apply early before deadlines, keep track of scholarships applied for and personalize essays to each scholarship.
“Some students, I feel like they don’t bother to apply because they think all the other students get better grades or (similar). It’s not always necessarily the top students that get the scholarships,” Nowak said. “They should definitely take the time to apply because sometimes the committees are looking for somebody who might not be getting other award money.”
Nowak said the J-L Class of 2017’s total for state and college scholarships was at least $314,080.
Students at the senior awards ceremony were also recognized at the event for other efforts like academic honors and their efforts in a new J-L program that centers around mentorship.
Students’ dual enrollment schedules sometimes opens up a different schedule that means they may have a “free hour” to spend on homework or helping others through the new mentor program.
“Our mentoring program is for students with such a free hour that are willing to volunteer during that time for a teacher,” Nowak said in an email. “They help with tutoring, individualizing instruction, helping students who were absent, etc.”
She said the school just finished its first year with the program and said “the feedback has been tremendous.”
“The mentors and the students in the classroom with the mentors have found it mutually beneficial,” Nowak said.