I have recently had the opportunity to participate in several events with the Stevenson High School Foundation, and I would like to highlight two programs that I feel are just outstanding. Last week I attended the Local Scholars Reception, and had the pleasure of presenting a scholarship on behalf of the Long Grove-Kildeer Garden Club, of which I am a member of the Board. Stevenson Foundation helps connect the community and school by organizing this evening and coordinating between the many private foundations and organizations who fund scholarships, and the students who are selected as the recipients. During the reception 43 students were honored with scholarships, and it was so impressive to hear of their individual stories, accomplishments, and plans for the future. Our Garden Club recipient, Gwendolyn Heidkamp is an exceptional young woman planning to attend the University of Illinois this fall majoring in civil engineering with environmental emphasis. Her inspiration for this career choice comes from living near and volunteering at Ryerson Woods Forest Preserve, and from working alongside her Dad who was an avid gardener and shared his love of nature. It was an honor to meet Gwen and her mom Shannon and I wish her the best of success in her studies!
Another initiative of the Stevenson Foundation is the new S2C program, Stevenson to College. In it’s pilot year, this program has been established to help identify and provide mentors to Stevenson students who might not otherwise attend college and then work with them from junior year of high school through college graduation. These students typically fall into one or more of the following categories: first generation in the family to attend college, financial hardship, under-represented population in college, or in need of supplemental support. While the communities that attend Stevenson are often viewed as affluent, it is estimated that we have between 100 and 200 students that fit one or more of these categories. As a former volunteer in the school nurses office, I have seem firsthand that this “hidden” need exists at our high school. With five students in this initial year, the S2C program is providing individualized mentoring, coaching and tutoring, help with the college search and selection, essays, scholarship and financial aid applications, tuition assistance, and other college necessities such as laptops. Through the six years of the mentoring experience, the relationship with the students is designed to continue through college to provide long-term support towards achieving their degrees.
I think this new program is ambitious, exciting, and one that our community has the potential and resources to make succeed. Besides donations, the Stevenson Foundation is also looking for community members to serve as volunteer mentors. Program Manager Breann Whitford gave a presentation in March to the Rotary Club of Long Grove, Kildeer and Hawthorn Woods, which is where I first became acquainted with the idea. Last week I attended a private gathering with many of the Stevenson Foundation Board members, administrators, and mentors who are already working with the current students in the program. It has certainly motivated me to consider becoming a mentor! If you would like to find out more about this program or others please visit their website at www.StevensonFoundation.org.