Banner year for Hansen recipients
By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN
The foundation gave out more money than ever this year, its 38th year. And both local high schools had the most winners ever.
So it was easy to see why guidance counselors at Hays High School and Thomas More Prep-Marian High School were giddy when they learned the results of the 38th annual Dane G. Hansen Scholarship Program.
The foundation annually gives out nearly 300 scholarships to graduating seniors in 59 counties in north-central and northwest Kansas who plan to attend a Kansas college.
"It's just absolutely marvelous for all the schools involved," said Kathy Spicer, one of four counselors at Hays High. "In these times of rising costs of a college education, we are especially grateful for how generous the foundation is."
This year, 33 Hays High seniors out of a possible 192 eligible to compete -- 17 percent -- were awarded scholarships, most renewable for at least one year. Scholarship amounts in four of the five categories were increased by at least $1,000 for the 2013-14 school year.
"We've had 27 or 28 (total winners) before, but never 30 (or more)," Spicer said.
TMP's senior class has just 51 students this year, small by comparison to recent years. The class of 2012 graduated 68 seniors. And when you consider 10 of those 51 seniors this year are resident students -- not residents of Ellis County so they are not eligible to compete -- TMP's 14 recipients this year made up more than a third of its participants who could have qualified (34 percent).
"When we got the notice about that many I thought that was a normal number for us," said Kathy Taylor, counselor at TMP-Marian. "But then I thought about the small senior class -- wow!"
Hays High School's Ryan Unruh was the top award winner in the 2013 scholarship competition. He was selected as one of 10 recipients of the Hansen Leader of Tomorrow scholarships, the top award worth $6,500 and renewable for three years. That scholarship increased $1,500 from its past amount of $5,000.
Unruh, whose older sister Kathryn also was a Hansen Leader of Tomorrow winner in 2008, said his family has been saving for his college education. But he plans to go on after receiving his bachelor's degree.
"Now, that will make it easier to go to law school," said Unruh, who has a 3.9 grade-point average and plans to get his bachelor's degree in business. "It's a great opportunity to be able to stay in Kansas and get a great scholarship to go to the school that I want. (KU) is always where I've wanted to go."
For now, Unruh is concentrating on finishing his senior year of high school in style. In addition to applying for more scholarships and normal end-of-the-year school chores for seniors, Unruh also is a member of the golf team that has qualified for state for three straight years. And he would like to make it four in a row.
"We only lost one senior from last year; we have a lot of talent coming back," he said. "So, we're hoping to make it (to state) again."
With such a tight spring schedule, the golf team has two, and sometimes three, meets a week. Unruh said he thinks participating in golf, as well as other school activities, has helped prepare him for a college schedule.
"It's sometimes (challenging) finding ways to manage your time efficiently and get your homework done before you leave," he said.
Other area winners of the top scholarships were Faith Karg from Smith Center, Zach May from Decatur Community High School in Oberlin and Victoria Purvis from Weskan.
The scholarship program also includes a technical and career education program for students planning to attend a school other than a four-year college.
"We all have different interests," Spicer said. "And those jobs and skills are important, too, so I'm really glad they include the technical college (category)."