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Club wants to give money away to qualified students

(left to right) Sue Agnew, Scholarship Chair of the Wilbraham Women's Club; Dick Kelleher of Ludlow Printing; directory creator Dottie Schwendenmann and volunteer Shirley Fusco. Reminder Publications photo by Kim Barba
By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

WILBRAHAM High school seniors scurrying to collect as much scholarship money before graduation should stop by the offices at Minnechaug Regional High School, Cathedral High School and Wilbraham and Monson Academy.

The Wilbraham Women's Club is once again accepting applications from seniors residing in the town of Wilbraham. The group is offering $1,000 scholarships and one $500 music scholarship to qualified students.

"Providing these scholarships was one of the original purposes of the Women's Club," Scholarship Chairwoman Susan Agnew explained. "We've been doing it for over 40 years."

The scholarships are awarded based on academic achievements, character and leadership, according to the application. The awards are not need based and open to any Wilbraham-residing high school senior, regardless of sex or intended college.

Last year, 30 students applied for the Women's Club scholarships. Three $1,000 scholarships were given to deserving students as well as one $500 music scholarship.

The Women's Club's choral group gets a small fee for their performances, according to Agnew. That money is collected for the music scholarship, which is for someone interested in music and wants to continue pursuing music in some capacity in his or her future.

"You don't have to be a music major to win the music scholarship," Agnew stated, "as long as music is in their future."

This is Agnew's second year on the Scholarship Committee and as a former teacher of the Hampden-Wilbraham school district, she said she is very familiar with the education system.

There are usually between eight and 10 women on the committee who rate the applications and narrow them down to a group of between five and 10 finalists. Agnew said the number of finalists depends on the number of applicants.

The deadline for scholarship applications is Feb. 29. After that, the committee will take a few weeks to review the applications and set up an evening to interview all the finalists.

Agnew said the interviews are a necessary part of the scholarship application process. "Sometimes what looks good on paper doesn't always come across in person," she said. "That's why the interview is an important facet."

The Wilbraham Women's Club raises money for the scholarships through various fundraisers, including the choral group's spring and holiday concerts. Other ways of collecting funds include a fashion show and raffles throughout the year.

The Wilbraham Telephone Directory, which will be delivered to over 5,000 homes later this month, is one of the largest fundraisers for the group. The directory project was developed in the late 1970s as a way to both raise money for the scholarship fund and to create community service opportunities.

Dottie Schwendenmann, creator of the directory project, said thanks to the directory and its advertisers, the group has been able to award several scholarships every year.

"In the past, we've given out up to seven $1,000 scholarships," she said, "but printing costs [for the directory] have been getting higher. We're hoping to give out three or four this year."

If town residents do not receive a directory, they can call Schwendenmann at 596-9503 for delivery of a copy or they can pick one up at Town Hall.

Agnew is hoping Wilbraham seniors no matter what school they attend -- will apply for the scholarships.

"Usually only Minnechaug students apply," she said, "but it's available to any Wilbraham student."