What started with a plea to cover a $250 scholarship at Newport High School has grown into a scholarship program that has awarded nearly $650,000 to over 150 students in six years.
It all began in 2017 when Melinda Dye, Newport High School College and Career Coordinator, asked an ASPIRE volunteer if he would take over a $250 scholarship that was no longer being funded. Ron Brocklehurst agreed and that year, he and his wife Barbara gave $7,000 of their own money for Rising Star scholarships and awarded seven $1,000 scholarships. Brocklehurst had no idea at that time how big the program would grow.
Brocklehurst is a CPA from California and though he and Barbara moved to Lincoln County in 2017, he still has clients in the Los Angeles area. He started contacting some to ask for their support in this scholarship program and the snowball started rolling. “It is such a blessing,” Brocklehurst said. “It’s just incredible the support we’ve received.”
Besides the Brocklehurst’s money, all the funds for the scholarship program come from the generosity of his out-of-state clients who believe in the value of this program and trust the board to choose deserving students. This year, the Rising Stars program has awarded nearly $240,000 in scholarships which includes 2023 winners as well as significant additional awards to prior year’s winners.
The emphasis on the scholarships is mostly for students who plan to attend community colleges or trade schools. Though primarily focused on NHS students, seniors in other District schools and a few going to 4-year universities were also awarded scholarships this year.
Minimum scholarship awards are $3,000 and the maximum amount is $10,000. The process for students applying for the scholarship includes submitting an application, transcripts, resumé and writing an essay — the most important part of the application according to Brocklehurst. “The essays are about how they faced obstacles, how they overcame, what they learned and what they will do next,” he said. Since there is no GPA requirement, these scholarships recognize not only excellence in academics but also in life. “These are just great kids — really strong and resilient kids.”
The Rising Star scholarship program is broken down into a subset of scholarships with different criteria. The R.E.A.L. scholarships (Recognizing Excellence in Academics and Life) were awarded to 16 students. The Brocklehurst Grit award was given to students who faced many obstacles, some staggering, and could have given up but didn’t. The Chasity Sargent Memorial scholarship and the Vinnie Onestar Memorial Award are given in honor of those deceased NHS students. Other scholarships are named after donors.
This year, senior Belia Grass won five scholarships. She plans to attend OSU in the fall and major in human development and family sciences. She received no financial aid and said these scholarships will help her tremendously. “It’s a lot and will have a big impact on me,” said Grass. She credited ASPIRE volunteer Penny Schulz with helping her with the application. “She put in a lot of time with me,” shared Grass.
It was Grass’s essay that struck the seven-member Rising Star board noted Brocklehurst. “She hasn’t let anything stand in her way,” he said. “She spoke the truth and spoke from the heart and it really resonated with our board.”
Brocklehurst anticipates the scholarship program topping the $1M mark in the next couple of years. “It’s insane how it is growing. … just crazy. And from such humble beginnings,” he said. “But in 10 years, you know who’s going to be running this country? It’s these kids here.”
Congratulations to all the scholarships awardees!
2022-23 R.E.A.L. Awards
- Blassingthwaite, Lillibelle (Chasity Sargent memorial scholarship)
- Gonzales-Clark, Valedia (Caldwell Award)
- Grass, Belia (Also won Essay Award, Swick Excellence Award, Caldwell Award, and Brocklehurst Grit Award)
- Green, Abigail (Also won Essay Award and Brocklehurst Grit Award)
- Hackworth, Alyssa (Caldwell Award)
- Husko, Madelyn (Caldwell Award)
- Kaldy, Ana (Drs. William Grant and Dayna Grant Veterinary Award and Brocklehurst Grit Award)
- Mahmood, Samiha (Brocklehurst Grit Award and Swick Excellence Award)
- Philips, Layne (Vinnie Onestar Memorial Award, Swick Excellence Award and Brocklehurst Grit Award)
- Schaffner, Emma (Caldwell Award)
- Schaffner, Tayor (Caldwell Award)
- Schwab, Kasin (C.J. Malley CPA Memorial Award)
- Sears, Danielle (R.E.A.L.)
- Thompson, Piper (Caldwell Award)
- Wiese, Jon (R.E.A.L.)
- Zeng, Julie (Caldwell Award)
Rising Star Awards
- Bailey, Aleah (Taft HS) (Also won Essay Award)
- Biddenger, Tristan
- Kozlovsky, Jack (Also won Brocklehurst Grit Award)
- Landa-Perez, Jesus
- Schriver, Alea
- Romero-Yanex, Eduardo
- Stevenson, Tayla (Toledo HS) (Also won Essay Award)
- Hatton, Lily (Taft HS)