Graduates from the Sisters High School class of 2019 were showered with scholarship money at the annual GRO Senior Celebration on Thursday, May 30.

Sisters GRO (Graduate Resource Organization) has continued to expand local scholarship offerings each year, resulting in over $208,000 of locally generated awards, represented by 69 separate scholarships that included 140 individual awards.

Sisters School employee Rick Kroytz is on the GRO board and operates the high school’s ASPIRE program, which is designed to help guide students on their post-high-school plans. Kroytz loved the energy and joy the event produced.

“It was an exciting night…you could feel the electricity in the air as the students eagerly waited to hear the results,” he said.

All seniors from the class of 2019 were encouraged to apply for the local scholarships and many took advantage of the digital portal established to help make the process more efficient, according to Kroytz.

“Our goal is always for every senior who has any financial need to apply,” he said. “Whether they are going to a trade school, community college, apprenticeship or four-year college, we want to help them afford the cost. There truly are scholarships that apply to every student planning to further their education.”

Seven new scholarships this year included the George Shackelford Memorial, Sisters Rhythm and Brews, Willitts Family, Ace Hardware of Sisters, Pam and Peter Hoover Character, and the SHS Leadership by Example. A culinary scholarship created by T.R. McCrystal was also established, but will be awarded for the first time in 2020.

Board member Susan Parker felt gratified for the continued generosity of the community as the GRO program has continued to expand and she encouraged interested parties to help GRO meet its goals.

“Information about how to get involved by creating a scholarship is on the GRO website,” she said. “We will continue to do outreach as an organization as

well.”

Scholarships ranged from $500 to over $12,000 to be used for post-high-school education. Some of the scholarships are renewable beyond the first year of college.

Regional scholarships added another $32,000 to the overall total value of the scholarship pool, according to Tim Ross, the GRO board chair.

Service clubs, nonprofits, businesses and individuals make up the bulk of the scholarship donors.

One of GRO’s current goals is to help people set up endowments to help develop scholarships that can aid in securing the sustainability of the GRO program, according to Ross.

“Sisters GRO is now able to set up endowed scholarships and we are encouraging people to consider this option for establishing their own endowments either now, or as part of their estate planning,” he said. “This is a great way to invest in our current and future graduates. Contact Sisters GRO at info@SistersGRO.org for more information.

Senior Nancy Montecinos, who will attend Western Oregon University in Monmouth next year, said, “It was both nerve-wracking and exciting to be sitting in the audience wondering if my name would be called. It was fun to see my friends and classmates being honored, too.”

Among other awards, Montecinos won the Friends of the Sisters Library Scholarship.

In addition to Ross, Kroytz, and Parker, Sisters GRO board members include Karen Hensley, Karen Lord, Diane Russell, Lori Larson, Joe Hosang, Ann Thompson and Bob Landwehr.