Herbert Lenze died on Nov. 8, 2007, but his legacy to the Ridgway Area School District will live forever through monies he has donated to the district earmarked for scholarships for boys’ basketball players and band members.
Lenze taught in the Ridgway Area School District for 30 years, and during the time he spent in Ridgway he was actively involved in extracurricular activities. He enjoyed the boy’s basketball and band programs the most.
Lenze was a basketball scorekeeper for most of his tenure at Ridgway, and also was treasurer of about every booster club and organization connected with the school.
Although it is unknown how long Lenze actually was involved with these groups, it is known that he put his heart into each activity for many years. Even though Lenze has passed on, he wanted to leave a little something so the students could continue to prosper from these programs.
Lenze decided to give an unknown amount of funds to the Ridgway Area School District to sponsor the basketball and marching band organizations, along with a scholarship program.
The monies going to these programs will allow the students to attend camps, purchase much–needed equipment and be governed by outside directors and coaches, along with giving students a financial bridge towards their college education.
The scholarship program will award one student that meets all necessary criteria with a $1,000 scholarships per year for up to four years. The student must maintain a B average. The criteria for the basketball scholarship is a student must have participated at least three years, including their senior year, as a player, manager or assistant. The band scholarship criteria is the student must be a senior and a member of the high school band for four years. Students must also be in the top 50 percentile of their class, and be accepted to a two– or four–year college.
The students are required to submit an essay entailed why the monies would benefit them. A students other activities will be considered during the elimination process, but they are not required to be considered.
The program will be conducted by a board comprised of the school superintendent, teachers, guidance counselors and the directors of the program. The scholarship monies will be delivered through the Elk County Community Foundation, a non-profit organization.
Paula Fritz Eddy said the organization is like an advocate for the donor’s monies. “We are not here to necessarily service individuals, but to service our donors,” Eddy said. “We help them become the philanthropist they want to be. We don’t provide services like the American Red Cross, but we service the donor to assure these programs will remain intact.”The benefits of having the monies organized through the ECCF is the students have a chance at increasing their scholarships. Since the ECCF is a state–based program and the scholarships are administered through the Partnerships for Access to Higher Education, a division of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, the students might become eligible for a larger scholarship. “About half of our kids end up getting additional grants,” said Eddy. “For a donor, it has potential of doubling their scholarship – not everyone, but those who are financially eligible.”
Jake Meyer, who is an attorney, says Lenze donated the monies to make the kids become more involved, make the programs better and he also hoped to lead other people to participate in making donations to the school.
Brent Rhoads stated the district will benefit in various ways because of Lenze’s generosity. Rhoads says the monies will pay a portion of the costs of having clinics, and now the district has the opportunity to bring in outside couches and directors. Rhoads says the monies will also allow for additional training the district was not able to afford before.
The school has already began reaping the benefits by purchasing clinics for the band students. The scholarship program will also begin disbursement for graduating seniors in May 2009, and the district is also considering some clinics for next summer.
Rhoads and the rest of the district is extremely grateful for Lenze’s donation.
“It is a great gift,” said Rhoads.