High-school graduates this spring encountered a vastly different end of school year commencement season.

As the Covid-19 crisis pushed classes and graduations online (Moline, Rock Island and United Township still plan in-person ceremonies later in the summer), nothing has been normal for graduating seniors and college students.

The Moline Foundation made the day for 29 scholarship recipients recently, when they were asked to participate in a Zoom conference call. Excited cheers and applause broke out as the students found out during the call that each would get at least a $1,000 scholarship award from the foundation – totaling $83,000 in scholarships altogether, from 34 funds.

In announcing the unprecedented awards, board chairman Steve Kruse said, “I’m sure you agree with me that it’s been a long and difficult spring. But it has also given us the chance to find new ways to recognize and celebrate with each other.”

Paul Plagenz

“The events of this spring are unprecedented. We didn’t want the achievements and educational attainment of these hard-working students to go unnoticed,” Moline Foundation president/CEO Paul Plagenz said. “In developing this program, we hope to honor and celebrate these scholarship winners.”

Compared to a typical year, the committee overseeing the 34 scholarship funds made additional money available for the student recipients, 26 of whom are 2020 high-school grads, Plagenz said.

“So many of them are tremendous community leaders and have really done things that separate them from other award candidates,” he said. “They missed out on special recognition at the end of their school year, when they normally would award money to scholarship winners.”

In addition to the recent awards, The Moline Foundation delivered a personalized yard sign, letter of recognition, brightly-colored mylar balloon and an award certificate to the home of each of the individual scholarship recipients in the past few days. The winners were asked to dress in their graduation cap and gown or a T-shirt or cap showing their post-secondary education choice for a photo opportunity.

Deborah Arul

The photos, their background information and a quote from each student will be featured in a daily “Scholarship Winner Spotlight” posting on the Moline Foundation Facebook Page and website (molinefoundation.org), which started June 10.

The first two are:

  • Deborah Arul, Moline High, who received a $1,000 Chris “Spey” VanSpeybroeck Memorial Scholarship and $1,000 Moline High School and Class of ’59 Scholarship.
  • Manuela Chavez, Moline, who won a $1,000 Moline Kiwanis Charitable Foundation Scholarship and $6,000 Moline High and Clement T. Hanson Scholarship.

The winners were individually recognized during the Zoom conference call by guests including the Moline Foundation Board members, donors to scholarship funds, the Moline Foundation Scholarship Selection Committee, and their own school personnel (including superintendents, counselors, and principals).

The foundation, founded in 1953, provides assistance  to benefit health, human services, education, community development, the arts and other charitable organizations which help the citizens of Moline and the surrounding area, including the Q-C region.

The Moline Foundation receives and administers charitable gifts in Scott County, Iowa, and Rock Island, Henry, Mercer, Warren, Henderson and McDonough counties in Illinois.

Advertisement

Jonathan Turner has been covering the Quad-Cities arts scene for 25 years, first as a reporter with the Dispatch and Rock Island Argus, and then as a reporter with the Quad City Times. Jonathan is also an accomplished actor and musician who has been seen frequently on local theater stages, including the Bucktown Revue and Black Box Theatre.