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The Vinton-Shellsburg Community School Foundation is in its 26th year of supporting graduating students with scholarships and providing opportunities for students from PK-12th grade. Many generous people have given funds for the benefit of generations to come, and this year the Foundation wishes to recognize those people and share their stories.

Tony Bopp created a scholarship fund in honor of his late wife Jill Lockard-Bopp, to support students pursuing post-secondary education in the performing arts. The scholarship was not attracting as many applicants as he'd hoped, so Tony changed the donation to provide financial assistance for current V-S students.

As Tony shared in a 2018 interview, "Jill would be ecstatic about having her memorial funds put to work for students to experience the performing arts because she loved every aspect of live performance, from costume design to the curtain call. I've asked that our gift be used to help students reach for new experiences. That might mean paying for meals on a day when the students need to travel, or it might mean helping pay for a band instrument; the important thing is that the funds are used to remove barriers keeping students from exploring the performing arts."

The change not only created new opportunities for students in dance, band, and other activities, the shift in focus led to another substantial gift designated for current students.

In 2021, the Charles Frank Dulin estate donated more than $200,000 to assist students across an extensive range of needs. Because a quick response to student needs is the goal, a small group of foundation board members and administrators approve requests made on behalf of students by counselors, teachers, and others with direct knowledge of the challenges faced by students.

Traditional scholarships have also grown over nearly three decades of the foundation's work. The invested principal now stands at slightly more than 2 million dollars and includes scholarships in memory of:

Esther Williams - Esther worked at the Cedar Valley Times for 75 years. She was a stern taskmaster bent on instilling the value of hard work in young people who delivered the newspaper, but she was also a champion of the kids who most needed the opportunity to earn some money. The Williams scholarship is awarded to students demonstrating dedication to community service.

Howard and Imogene Matters - the Matters scholarship is for a graduate planning to study a science-related discipline. The Matters scholarship certificate shares that Howard and Imogene married during the Great Depression. Though neither had experienced higher education, they instilled a desire for learning in their children and grandchildren. The Vinton-Shellsburg science department selects the recipient of the Matters Scholarship.

Elmo and Mary Zada Baxter - Elmo taught in the Vinton-Shellsburg school district for many and Mary Zada was involved in community life while the couple raised their family. The Baxter family selects the Baxter scholarship recipients.

Kathy and Dean Luze - Kathy and Dean operated Viking Sewing Center together for 34 years. The memorial scholarship was created to help any graduating student motivated to pursue further education and who has a passion for learning. The scholarship is for any post-secondary community college.

Gerald and Beatrice Irwin - The Irwins were proud of their connection to Garrison, and their scholarship was designated for students living within 10 miles of Garrison's city limits.

Russel T. and Naomi V. Cottrell - The Cottrell scholarship is for any post-secondary education student.

Ben and Nina Smith - The Smith scholarship is open to every student pursuing further education at a four-year institution.

Marjorie Schloeman McDowell - The McDowell scholarship reflects Mrs. McDowell's long commitment to students and education. She taught general science and biology in the Detroit suburb of Madison Heights, Mich., at Norway Junior High School in Norway, Iowa, and later at Washington High School in Vinton. The McDowell scholarship is paid at the beginning of the student's second year at a four-year college or university.

John C. Dieter - The Dieter scholarships were established in honor of John, who at 19 years old was severely burned in a grain elevator accident. There are scholarships recognizing several people directly involved with the Dieter family or helping John survive and recover from his accident.

This year, the scholarships administered by the foundation will be awarded to 38 students, and the total value of Foundation scholarships is $69,000. In 2021, community organizations and the school foundation provided more than $150,000 to students graduating from the Vinton-Shellsburg Community School District.

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