Edwardsburg high schoolers reach out to community for EPSF donations

EDWARDSBURG — Recently, nearly three dozen volunteers gathered at the Edwardsburg Public Schools Foundation office to raise money for grants and scholarships. This may seem like business as usual, but instead of board members making the calls, it was Edwardsburg High School students.

The Edwardsburg Public Schools Foundation sponsored a student phone-a-thon on Feb. 12 and 13. The goal was to raise money for senior scholarships and grants that allow school employees to support student learning. They raised nearly $8,000.

“The [scholarship and grant] benefits are for the students,” said Debbie Cripe, who helped oversee the event. “It’s good for them to understand and learn about the foundation and use their people skills to make calls to our possible donors. They are always looking for ways to give back to the community.”

The senior scholarships are academic awards for students. Every school year, the foundation gives more than 20 seniors scholarships. Last year, EPSF awarded 23 scholarships, totaling in $22,500. This included 22 scholarships for $1000 each and one scholarship for $500.

The grants are for Edwardsburg teachers to apply for in order to provide students with innovative or unique educational opportunities. In the past, the grant has been used to help fund  an animals and environment show and a Southwestern Michigan College Children’s Literature Experience.

“There aren’t many parameters to [the grants],” Cripe said. “We’ve done technology upgrade, we’ve done some field trips, we’ve brought programs into the school and those kinds of things.”

There were two phone sessions each day, and students were allowed to participate in both sessions if they wanted. On each day, the first session went from 3 to 4:30 p.m. and the second session went from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Pizza was provided between sessions on both days.

“[The students] all did a very good job,” Cripe said. “We have a student script that they practice and, of course, if any of them had any questions there were many adults around to field a call and support the students. They worked with partners, so if one of the kids didn’t want to talk on the phone then they’d be the recorder.”

Each pair had a recording sheet where they put down the name and address of a donor and how much the donor was going to pledge. The other student would make the call. Each donor had been previously  asked if they were comfortable receiving a call from a student.

All of the student volunteers were sophomores in high school or older. Participating in the event helped many of them advance in various student organizations and all of them were a part of either SADD club or the Leos.

“They need to [participate in events like this] in order to get into some of the organizations that they want to apply for,” Cripe said. “For instance, to be a part of National Honor Society, you have to have so many hours of community service. Leos earn pins and they get those based on how much time they give back to the community.”

This was the inaugural student phone-a-thon and, given the its success, Cripe and the other coordinators hope to host it again in subsequent years.

Any EHS seniors interested in applying for the senior scholarship can find the application on the EPSF website. The deadline is April 15 and winners will be announced at the senior honors program.

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