Wa-Hi class establishes college scholarships

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To make a donation or learn more about the Walla Walla Public High Schools Scholarship fund, visit the Blue Mountain Community Foundation website: www.bluemountainf.... For additional information, contact Jerry Zahl at: jkazahl@charter.net.

WALLA WALLA — The Walla Walla High School class of 1962 has established a scholarship fund to benefit future graduates of the city’s public high schools.

The new scholarship was officially launched Friday, and coincides with the 50th class reunion of the Wa-Hi class of ’62.

The endowment, which will benefit graduates of Walla Walla High School and Lincoln High School, was first thought up by class member Jerry Zahl earlier in the year.

As Zahl began reflecting on his 50th class reunion, he also began thinking about a proper gift to the community. More than a monument or plaque, Zahl wanted something that would continue to benefit the community years into the future. He also wanted something that would show his class’ gratitude and respect for the education and opportunities each received.

A scholarship seemed like the best way to create a lasting gift that would go to students in need and demonstrating a potential to succeed.

The class reached out to Blue Mountain Community Foundation and Executive Director Lawson Knight. Almost immediately, donations began coming in. In a few short months, the class reached its goal of collecting $10,000 within three years.

Blue Mountain Community Foundation is managing the fund, and has more than $13,000 in donations to date with more coming in each day. Zahl said his class has a new goal of reaching $100,000 within five years, and every small contribution helps.

College-bound students who graduate from Wa-Hi or Lincoln can apply for the scholarship, so long as they demonstrate financial need and an ability to succeed. A scholarship would be awarded by the Blue Mountain Community Foundation to a student’s college of choice, following the review of a Scholarship Committee to determine a recipient.

Zahl said he was inspired to develop the fund by his own son’s experience in high school, and by seeing and hearing students’ stories of being enriched by their years in the local schools. Since his own time in high school, Zahl has also seen the cost of everything — from gasoline to a college degree — go up significantly, while seeing fewer opportunities for young people to work.

Zahl said anyone can contribute to the fund, and in any amount. A popular donation has been individuals donating in an amount related to their graduating class, such as $19.62.

“I hope this is a great day in the life of education in the Walla Walla Valley,” he said during Friday’s announcement.

Garth Lindsey, who also graduated in ’62, traveled from Port Ludlow, Wash., to Walla Walla for the class reunion, and was glad to make it to the Friday scholarship launch.

“It’s the right thing to do,” Lindsey said about the fund. “A great opportunity to do something lasting.”

Maria Gonzalez can be reached at mariagonzalez@wwub.com or 526-8317.

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