The NCCA (Nineteenth Century Charitable Association) just completed the interview and selection process for next year’s scholarship recipients. Four graduating seniors from OPRF each receive $2,000 a year for four years of college to use as they see fit. The qualifications are a 3.2 GPA, submission of their financial aid form, a short essay, two letters of recommendation and extracurricular/community service.

I’ve been on the scholarship committee for several years and I’m writing this for two reasons. First to thank Sharon Martinek and Pete Nixen for their hospitality, as well as for facilitating the students to get in all of their paperwork. There are literally reams of paper that they must sort to help the students get the opportunity to apply only for our scholarship, let alone all of the other various organizations needing their assistance. (Besides this, Sharon always makes sure we have home-baked treats on which to snack and she caters to our every need during two days of interviews.)

The other reason for writing my first viewpoint piece ever to any newspaper, is to let the community of Oak Park and River Forest know that the high school is challenging and preparing the students to succeed beyond high school. The students had a positive experience at OPRF and when something wasn’t quite right, they were able to correct it to make the high school an even better institution. To a person, the students felt encouraged and respected by their teachers. 

Selecting only four students was difficult to say the least. I wish more people could have listened to the responses the applicants made during 15 minutes of questioning. No doubt OPRF students will succeed. If only we had the resources to give out more scholarships to help further their education.

I teasingly told my son that he could have his daughter move in with me this fall so that she could have the opportunities available to all of the OPRF students. Our students in Oak Park and River Forest can grow to their potential at the high school. All they have to do is be open to joining the many clubs that are available and seeing their teachers and counsellors as a means to getting the most out of their education.

Thanks for letting me have my say.

Mary Fran Gleason

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