Elementary students contribute to high school scholarships

When the Mexico High School senior class of 2014 gathers in the Sports Complex for the annual awards assembly, the students likely will walk away with a half a million dollars in scholarships.
While 40-45 of the scholarships will be from the colleges to be attended by the prospective graduates, most of the scholarships given, approximately 100, will be of local origin. This year, there are four new local scholarships, with one based entirely on popcorn.
In what may be one of the most unusual scholarships in recent memory, the Popcorn Mania scholarships, in the amount of $200 each, have been established by the second graders at Eugene Field Elementary School. The scholarships are the result of an educational project for the students, who sell popcorn to their fellow classmates during designated times.
"Popcorn Mania culminates our grade level expectations in math, science, social studies and communications art," Michelle Whanger, second grade teacher, said. "We run this just like a small business. We will not only teach across the curriculum, we will also try to instill compassion in helping others by donating our profits to worthy causes."
In previous years, the students have voted to donate their earnings to causes such as the Mexico-Audrain Animal Shelter and Camp Barnabas. This is the thirteenth year for the project.
Commerce Bank president Ron Hopkins helps the children with the project by explaining the loan process and providing a promissory note that each of the children sign, in the amount of $200 for supplies. The children go back to the bank to pay the loan at the end of the project.
"On average we bring in more than $1,500 in sales," Whanger said. "That is a lot of $.50 bags of popcorn!" Popcorn Mania is taking place this week at Eugene Field, after each lunch shift.
The children also selected the seniors to receive the two scholarships. "It was totally awesome how seriously they took making their choices," Whanger said. "Basically we decided to award scholarships because it is the one thing that all students remember throughout their educational years in Mexico, and we wanted our current second graders to realize the importance of learning."
Other teachers involved in the program are Christine Alexander, Lorie Meyer and Susan Ransom.In other new scholarships, the Class of 1962 members provided funds for a $500 scholarship. They join the members of the Classes of 1933, 1950, 1954, 1965 and 2000 in giving an annual scholarship. For this year only, the Class of 2001 will give a $300 scholarship, which will deplete the funds in their account.
The Mexico Golf Organization also has provided a new scholarship this year. In the amount of $500, the scholarship was established to recognize the commitment of a student athlete both on the golf course and in the classroom. Any graduating senior who participated in Bulldog golf for at least three years is eligible.