A group of Minoters has taken to passing the hat for higher education, collecting donations for a home-spun scholarship.
The idea began in late 2009, as an educational award devoted to the memory of Casey Duchsherer, a 2004 Minot High School graduate who passed away that April after a battle with cancer.
"I decided I wanted to do something as a memorial," said friend Nicholas Cavallo, an employee of Minot Public Schools and evening server at Ebeneezer's Eatery and Irish Pub downtown. Duchsherer had been attending Minot State University when he was diagnosed with cancer in April 2008. Unable to continue schooling himself, he offered to help a friend who was unsure whether to attend college pay for his tuition.
"Education was important to him," Cavallo said of Duchsherer.
Following this example, Cavallo and a number of friends helped pool together the Casey Duchsherer Memorial Scholarship, an informal grassroots fundraiser which helped to raise $1,000 the first year.
"The idea of this scholarship is to provide students with some extra funds to study," Cavallo said.
By May the scholarship will have donated more than $10,000 since its start several years ago. The current award is worth $2,500, with hopes for this to eventually rise to $5,000.
"I feel I know these kids really well," said Cavallo, who works for the school district. "We try to make the scholarship open to most of Minot High, regardless of GPA."
As grade averages are already important to admissions and other financial assistance, he considers the purpose of this award more as a way to give an additional incentive to keen young minds that may have the interest but not necessarily the means to go to college.
Applications are still open for submission, which this year will be in the format of a short, homemade video. On their videos, students should explain which constitutional amendment they today would consider most important and why. The deadline for applications is April 15, and is open to Minot High School seniors set to graduate this year with the intention of going to an in-state college or university the coming fall. Submissions or requests for more information on the scholarship can be sent to Cavallo at (firstname.lastname@example.org).
"We want to put it to best possible use," Cavallo said. The scholarship will be deposited directly with the student's account at their school's administration office. He also likes the idea of having additional follow-ups for award winners, with the possibility for supplemental assistance until the student graduates.
An evening fundraiser is scheduled for 6 p.m. on May 11, at the Otis & James Photography studio on 17 South Main.
"We do quite a bit," said the studio's co-owner, Jamie Rennich. "We hold maybe half a dozen fundraisers here throughout the year." This will be the second year Otis & James has hosted the scholarship's event.
Duchsherer had been heavily involved in Minot's evening music scene, with such local venues as the Red Carpet. In keeping with this tradition, there will be a number of local bands at the Saturday event, including Atom's Rite, the Rough Riders, the Getters, and Oakland-area band Muncie.
"We do one every year. That's our big thing, the party," said Cavallo. "It's a nice way to raise money, because most people can't afford to donate a lot. The party is a good way to raise money," while providing a fun atmosphere for friends and well-wishers of Duchsherer to gather.