Scholarships Open This January


Teagan Pickett (12) and Griffin Empey (12) hold their 2022 Heisman Scholarships. From an applicant pool of thousands of high school scholar-athletes graduating with the class of 2023, more than 5,700 have been named School Winners in the Heisman High School Scholarship competition awarded by The Heisman Trophy Trust.

Every year, over one hundred scholarships are awarded to students who meet and exceed the criteria set by the scholarship committee. For most, college is expensive, but opportunities like these are allowing students to pursue greater education that maybe wouldn’t otherwise be possible.
Stoughton High School assists students in their college journeys financially. In 2022, the Honors Committee awarded a little under three hundred thousand dollars to students.
SHS Counselor and Chair on the Honors Committee Ann Ash plays a key role in the scholarship distribution. Ash, as well as the other members of the committee, decide how many students receive scholarships at the end of the year.
“The number varies from year to year, but in the last six years, the range has been between 106-118 students receiving scholarships each year,” Ash says.
SHS has been awarding scholarships for 65 years, and just in the last five years, over one million dollars have been awarded to students.
Every donor specifically sets each scholarship’s criteria, so there isn’t a universal criterion regarding all scholarships. There are, however, specific themes that donors usually look for.
“The criteria are set by the donors and are too numerous to list, but some of the more common criteria include GPA, academics, specific majors, financial need, community service, participation in a specific extracurricular, leadership and athletics, overcoming obstacles, and showing improvement,” Ash says. “My job is to sort through the list of applicants and determine who qualifies for each scholarship based on the criteria. This work takes several months to complete.”
Ash is one of 18 staff members on the Honors Committee, with each seat representing a different department in SHS. According to Ash, deciding which students are awarded scholarships isn’t as simple as picking names out of a hat; it’s a long process that requires voting and discussion of students that qualify.
“We typically spend one evening doing selections,” Ash says. “We start with the largest scholarship and work our way down the list. I present the committee members with a folder showing a list of students who qualify for each individual scholarship. The committee uses those lists to start the nomination process and the voting. Students must have a majority vote (more than 50% of the committee). So, sometimes a second vote is necessary.”
Each year, hundreds of thousands of dollars are received from donors, which come from a variety of sources, including community organizations, estates/wills, memorials, civic organizations, and private donors. Hence, the name of the scholarship is chosen entirely by the donors themselves.
Aside from consistently maintaining good grades and a high GPA, a screening process begins just before the end of the first semester of each school year for that year’s graduating seniors.
“I send out the application in early January to all seniors and their parents via email,” Ash says. “Students then have three weeks to complete the application. There is one main application that they are asked to fill out. The application is a screener for the majority of the scholarships. There are also some optional forms that students may choose to fill out in addition to the main applications. These include a financial need statement, an application for Health Science Majors, Environmental Science Majors, Agriculture Majors, and Education Majors.”
In May, SHS has an ceremony where students are awarded their scholarships. This event is also a chance for those students that win a scholarship to meet their respective donors.
“We love being at graduation and watching our seniors head off to their next adventure,” School Board President Francis Sullivan says. “It’s really nice to support our students.”