Changes are coming to the way scholarships are awarded to graduating Sisters High School seniors.

Sisters Graduate Resource Organization (Sisters GRO) is the organization that works with the multiplicity of individuals and organizations in the Sisters community that provide thousands of dollars in scholarships each spring. Sisters GRO has a long-term goal of ensuring that all college-bound seniors receive some kind of scholarship support.

The selection committees for the various scholarships work independently, with no communication among the donors. This has resulted in multiple scholarships going to the same students, leaving others out of the running.

"Last year, three of the students walked away with seven scholarships each," said Karen Hensley, chairperson of Sisters GRO. "Some kids are walking away with so much, while other kids are walking away sometimes empty-handed - and it's heartbreaking."

Last year, half of those who applied for scholarships received nothing, while half of those who were successful garnered an average of three scholarships.

That seemed lopsided to Sisters GRO, to many parents, and to many donors.

Based on feedback from donors and parents, Sisters GRO is instituting a new selection process. Donors are asked to use a confidential form to provide multiple choices of deserving students to a final selection committee. If their top candidate is the recipient of another scholarship, then their scholarship will be awarded to one of their other top candidates. Their first candidate would receive the larger of the two scholarships.

The process remains completely donor-driven - all candidates are deserving students selected by the donor's selection committee.

"Only the candidates who have been chosen by the selection committees are entered into the process," said Hensley.

Sisters High School Principal Joe Hosang will oversee the spreadsheet by which candidates are selected based on whether or not they have received a previous scholarship. He will be assisted by community volunteers Dar Kelm and Valarie Anderson.

"While I feel it (the process) is objective, you still want two more eyes," Hosang told The Nugget.

The way the process works, it remains possible that students could get more than one scholarship; however, it is unlikely that they will receive multiples as they have in the past.

Donors can opt to continue to present a sole candidate. Hensley noted that, while some donors have expressed concerns about adopting a new process, a clear majority have agreed - many quite enthusiastically - to adopt the new format.

Dee Thompson, who serves on the Sisters GRO board and has also been on a donor selection committee for Sisters PEO, told The Nugget that there is often virtually no separation between top candidates. For her organization last year, "all four of the candidates were very deserving."

Thompson feels that the new process will ensure that those deserving candidates receive scholarships.

Scholarships will be awarded at a ceremony at Sisters High School on May 21.

For more information on Sisters GRO, visit