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Dollars for Scholars raises $23,000 for higher education

WORTHINGTON - Thirty Worthington High School (WHS) students and recent alumni will benefit from the community-minded endeavors of the local Dollars for Scholars chapter when the organization's annual awards ceremony takes place 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the WHS cafeteria.

"Each year, Dollars for Scholars of Worthington provides scholarships for a number of graduating seniors," shared Peggy Meier, Worthington chapter president. "We understand the amounts we are able to give are small in comparison to the total cost of higher education today, but we hope that it helps in some way for these very deserving students."

Twenty-eight seniors, who are set to graduate from WHS on May 17, along with two 2012 WHS alums who received two-year scholarship awards, will be the beneficiaries of $22,900 in funds provided by the local Dollars for Scholars chapter.

Since 1984, Worthington's Dollars for Scholars has given nearly $438,000 to 1,200 WHS seniors, with average grant amounts in recent years ranging from $700 to $825 per awardee.

"We have a dream of providing many, many more scholarships than we currently can," assured Meier, noting the bulk of the funds awarded annually come from ongoing fundraising efforts. That includes donations from individuals and businesses, and also from promotions such as the "points sponsorships" to which local businesses contribute ($2 per touchdown at WHS home football games, 50 cents per point at WHS home basketball games).

"People who donate to the scholarship fund deeply value their community, its young people and the importance of career development," added Jan Larson, a longtime Dollars for Scholars board member who is also a WHS counselor. "Dollars for Scholars is a community organization established for the benefit of our high school graduates.

"The money is raised through the efforts of community volunteers who believe in the value of higher education and want to support high school students in their goals of earning college degrees."

A 2003 WHS alumnus who was a Dollars for Scholars award recipient at the time of his graduation is Dr. Andrew Bents, now a local veterinarian with Veterinary Medical Center.

Bents put his Dollars for Scholars award to work in earning his undergraduate degrees at Minnesota West and the University of Minnesota, and his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota's College of Veterinary Medicine. He will be the guest speaker at the Wednesday ceremony.

"I'm going to talk about how we need to exercise humility and be appreciative for everything people do to help us get where we want to be in life," shared Bents. "All the scholarships I received, including the Dollars for Scholars award, helped me to finance my higher education, and it would have been very difficult to go on to veterinary school with a huge debt load from my undergrad years.

"I'll also remind the students there is help available in finding the opportunities that are out there and that they're not alone in the search for what they want to do and be," added Bents.

The Worthington Dollars for Scholars board is grateful for the several endowed scholarships it has received and passed on to student recipients, among them the Anna Lois Shipman Memorial, the Mike Patrick/Milt Osterberg Endowed Scholarship, the Fredi Lowry/Doris Rubsam Memorial, and the Louise Mowrey/Georgia Entenza Endowed Scholarships.

"We have a need for additional endowed funds so we can increase the number and amount of scholarships we provide," said Marilyn McDowell, the chapter's treasurer and a 12-year board member. "We don't want to be limited by the amount raised through our annual fundraising efforts."

One major fundraising push is the annual Dollars for Scholars golf scramble, which will take place on June 24.

"I know how much it costs to send kids to college, and every little bit helps," continued McDowell. "One of these Dollars for Scholars award is worth a lot of hours spent working at a summer job, even though some kids don't realize that until they get out there."

As in past years, students' applications for Dollars for Scholars funds are evaluated anonymously at the non-profit Scholarship America office in St. Peter. They are ranked based on personal data, employment and extracurricular involvement, teacher appraisals, class GPA and ACT scores.

"Beginning in 2014, applications will be done online and the process will be slightly different, but still with the objective ranking in place," informed McDowell.

The 11-member local board always looks forward to the awards ceremony, when student recipients sometimes have the chance to meet donors and board members greet in person the beneficiaries of their year's work.

"We are so very fortunate to live in a country that provides education for everyone, and in a community that promotes higher education for those who want to achieve more," said Larson. "Education is universally valued."

The Dollars for Scholars ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the WHS cafeteria is open to the public. For more information about the June 24 Dollars for Scholars golf tournament, contact Dick Schlichte at 376-3337 or For information about volunteering with or donating to the Worthington Dollars for Scholars chapter, contact Chuck Moore (372-2610), Marilyn McDowell (372-5247) or Peggy Meier (372-4903), or visit