Tag Archives: Staples High School Tuition Grants

Eli Mitchell Frets

When Eli Mitchell was in Staples High School last year, he admired John Dodig.

The principal said hello to him every day, asked how he was doing, and made him feel good.

Eli is out of high school now. Dodig retires next month. So, in honor of the principal — and to raise money for a Staples Tuition Grants scholarship in his name — Eli had an idea.

He’s spent the past few months designing his “Fret” (plural: “Fretz”). He patented them as “personal expression banners” — his generation’s replacement for buttons, stickers and patches. Each has a logo or message, and attach easily to anything — backpacks, for instance. You can add them to the strap, like guitar frets.

Eli with Fret on backpack - final

Eli created a set with the Staples “S,” and the words “Class of 2015.” He asked Dodig to sign some. The principal autographed 100.

Eli hopes to sell them all — to graduates, parents of grads (for gifts), and anyone else. The cost is $10; of that, he’ll donate $7 to the scholarship set up in Dodig’s name. (You can donate more to the fund, of course.)

An autographed "Class of 2015" Fret.

An autographed “Class of 2015” Fret.

Eli’s business is just getting off the ground. He’s planning to add colleges, sports teams, flags and other designs to his “Fretz.” He hopes this 1st set will become collectibles — and that they’ll add a nice chunk of money to a fund named for Eli’s (and Westport’s) beloved principal.

(To order online, go to www.fretzdesigns.com)

Eli Mitchell, with a roll of Fretz.

Eli Mitchell, with a roll of Fretz.

 

The “Class” Of ’76

Staples’ Class of 1976 celebrates its 35th reunion this summer.

Shake your booty!

But they want to do more than meet old friends, reminisce about when the drinking age was 18, and listen to KC & the Sunshine Band.

They plan to give something back to the town they grew up in.

The idea is to collect a small amount — say, $10 — from each attendee.  And from those who can’t make it back, but want to help.  If half the class donates, they’ll raise $3,000.

Who will they give it to?  They’re taking a poll.

They’ve got 10 very worthy nominees so far.  Most are local organizations:

  • Staples Tuition Grants
  • Homes With Hope
  • Project Return
  • A Better Chance of Westport
  • Near & Far Aid
  • Save the Children
  • Project Choice
  • Westport Humane Society
  • Scholarship America
  • Hole in the Wall Gang

By June 1, they hope to settle on a “Charity of Choice” for the Class of ’76.

That’s the spirit!

Tuition Grants Pave The College Path

Think you’ve got some hefty college bills?  Meet Jody Brown.

Last spring the Westport single mother prepared for Staples graduation — of her triplets.  Megan, Kyle and Tyler DeBussey were ready to enter college this fall.

Tuition costs — over $300,000 for 4 years — kept her up at night.  The Barron’s guide, she says, made her sick.

All 3 of her kids had gone through Westport schools, from kindergarten through 12 grade.  None had ever requested financial assistance.  But each took on the task of filling out financial aid applications — including applying for Staples Tuition Grants.

Since 1943, the program has provided assistance to Staples seniors — and graduates still in college.  Some are students like the DeBusseys (though triplets are a 1st).  Others live in homes where 1 — or both — parents are seriously ill, or out of work.

Staples Tuition Grants is the largest single donor of financial aid in Westport.  Last year the organization handed out $198,000 — 24 grants to seniors, 53 to alums.  Awards range from several hundred to several thousand dollars, and are based solely on need.

Last year also saw a 35% increase in applications.  Many came from graduates who had not needed aid as seniors, but because of changed family circumstances or college funding cutbacks, suddenly did.

The DeBusseys all qualified.  Tyler is at the University of Wisconsin; Kyle attends the University of South Carolina, while Megan is at the University of Hartford.

Along with additional scholarships for academics and sports achievements — plus personal loans and campus jobs — all 3 are thriving. 

This June Staples Tuition Grants hopes to award $200,000 to a new crop of seniors, and some familiar grads.  As always, the committee relies on contributions from individuals, PTAs, civic organizations, local businesses and trusts.

But so far they’ve raised only half their goal.  It’s time to step up for our own.  Contributions may be made here, or by mail:  Staples Tuition Grants, PO Box 5159, Westport, CT 06881. 

(The deadline for students to apply for aid is March 15.  Applications are available here.)

Let’s Hear It For ’69

The Staples Class of 1969 held their 40th reunion recently.  Like most classes they partied hard, talked a lot and laughed plenty.

Unlike many classes, though, at the end of the weekend when they scattered all over the country, they left something tangible behind:  money.

The men and women of ’69 raised — appropriately — $1,969 for Staples Tuition Grants, the group that since 1943 has helped thousands of Westporters attend college.

This could start a great tradition.  Every graduating class should think of contributing to the organization that helped so many Stapleites — or  any other worthy cause.

But the ’69ers didn’t stop there.  They also raised $500 for the Westport Historical Society, through sales of Staples High School: 120 Years of A+ Education, the 400-page, lavishly illustrated history of their favorite high school.  The author is, um, me.

But that’s another story.

The Class of '69 committee (from left) presents a $1,969 check: Alex Shook, Kathy Kopp Sabo, Peggy Kamins (Staples Tuition Grants), Lorrie Besser Ward, Shelby Goodlett Pike, Mark Bunger, Debbie Hooper Fisher, Jeff Allen, Peter Krieg.  The copy is unidentified.  Missing:  Leslie O'Toole, Karin Swan Brooks, Debbie Sims, Ray Flanigan, Joel Wald.

The Class of '69 committee (from left) presents a $1,969 check: Alex Shook, Kathy Kopp Sabo, Peggy Kamins (Staples Tuition Grants), Lorrie Besser Ward, Shelby Goodlett Pike, Mark Bunger, Debbie Hooper Fisher, Jeff Allen, Peter Krieg. The copy is unidentified. Missing: Leslie O'Toole, Karin Swan Brooks, Debbie Sims, Ray Flanigan, Joel Wald.

Stark Scholarship Facts

Staples Tuition GrantsSince World War II, Staples Tuition Grants have helped Westporters pay for college.

This year, families that once donated funds now look for them.

The number of students applying for grants is up nearly 35% over last year.  The amount of money available is down 5%.

Applicants cover a broad spectrum.  Some are raised by single parents; others, in homes where 1 or both parents are seriously ill or out of work.

This year, even 2 working parents can’t always keep pace with the rising cost of college.

Nearly all grant recipients work part-time during the school year and summer.  They are teenagers you see every day — accomplishing great things in athletics, the arts, science and elsewhere, despite the pressures they face and are reluctant to talk about.

On June 4, more than 75 current and former Staples students will receive grants.   Between now and then, board members are gratefully accepting contributions to ensure the highest possible awards for recipients.

If you ever received a Staples Tuition Grant — or a similar scholarship — please give what you can.

If you know a Staples student you admire — please donate in his or her honor.

If you have faith in our future — and believe that our Staples graduates can help shape it — please contribute.

(Contributions can be made via the website — www.staplestuitiongrants.org — or by mail:  Staples Tuition Grants, PO Box 5159, Westport, CT 06881.)