Astoria High School graduates took home $275,000 on Thursday from Astoria High School Scholarships Inc., part of more than $800,000 in local grants awarded to Clatsop County graduates this year.
The Astoria scholarship foundation, started with a car wash in 1976, has grown to more than $8 million in assets it manages for different funds from former students, businesses, unions, social groups and others.
The foundation now regularly awards more than $200,000 a year. This year’s total, spread among 90 students interviewed by the nonprofit, was a slight record over last year’s $264,000.
Warrenton High School Scholarships Inc. interviewed 23 students and awarded around $220,000. Many of the scholarships came from Dick and Harriett Baldwin, who willed their estate worth $1.2 million to the Gateway Masonic Lodge. Over the past 17 years, the lodge has awarded nearly $1.4 million in scholarships to graduating seniors.
Jeff Roberts, the principal of Seaside High School, said his graduates this year took in more than $180,000 in local and countywide awards.
“We processed over 934 applications from approximately 54 students,” he said. “The vast majority of these applicants received a scholarship.”
Even the county’s more rural school districts maintain strong scholarship funds.
The Knappa Schools Foundation, started by homegrown business mogul Shawn Teevin and other alumni in 1997, regularly raises around $100,000 at a winter auction for scholarships and school programs. Laurel Smalley, the principal of Knappa High School, said her graduates this year took in $109,000.
Jewell School is funded primarily through taxes from timber cut in the Clatsop State Forest. The reserves from state timber sales allowed the school district to establish an in-house scholarship of up to $4,000 for students with at least a 2.5 GPA and 90 percent attendance. The amount increases to $8,000 next year, with extra money available for high scores on state tests. Graduates can access the scholarship until they are 24.
The school district’s scholarship fund regularly gives out around $40,000 a year to current and past graduates, said Renee Meier, a school counselor. Private individuals also provide the Jewell Memorial Scholarship between $1,000 and $4,000.
Meier, in her fourth year as a counselor, said the school district has put more of a focus in recent years on students continuing education after high school.
“We’ve done a lot to make sure kids have access to college and career readiness,” she said.