Alumni give largest award in BUHS history

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BRATTLEBORO — Saturday, June 15, was a heart-stopping moment for Olivia Stent, and not just because it was the day she received her diploma as a member of the Brattleboro Union High School Class of 2018.

"I was so happy when they announced my name," said Stent. "My jaw dropped and I sat in my chair because I couldn't stand up."

Eventually of course, Stent did stand up and received a $7,500 scholarship, the largest in the history of the school, from the Class of 1968.

"I am so grateful," said Stent. "I hope to make them proud."

The one-time scholarship was the idea of Bill Holiday, a social studies teacher at BUHS who has been an employee of Windham Southeast Supervisory Union for the past 46 years and who is also a member of the BUHS Class of 1968.

"Last fall I had this idea," he told the Reformer. "I wondered if we could give a one-time scholarship and give something back to the school."

Using social media and a contact list maintained by a fellow graduate of the Class of 1968, Holiday asked whether folks would be willing to chip in to create the scholarship.

After getting a positive response, Holiday put out an appeal, asking if folks would be willing to give $100 towards the one-time scholarship. About 30 percent of the 188 surviving members of the Class of 1968 contributed in one way or the other, with donation amounts from a few dollars all the way up to $1,000.

The deadline for applications, which had to be submitted online, was April 1.

"At the time, we knew we had $3,000," said Holiday. "It grew $4,500 over the last five or six weeks."

Holiday and fellow Class of 2018 alumnae Dana Lane Nelson and Cathy Miller Bennett made up the selection committee. Holiday said, independently, they all three arrived at the conclusion that Stent was the perfect recipient for the one-time award.

"It's such an honor that she was awarded this," said Olivia's mother, Maxine Stent. "She has worked so hard all through school and is so dedicated to academics and athletics. We are so grateful, honored and appreciative for the generosity of the Class of 1968."

When Holiday asked for contributions from his fellow alumni, he also asked what characteristics they would like to see in a recipient.

"They were interested in a social component and a humanitarian component," he said. "And obviously, we were looking for a good student. Olivia qualified in many ways. She is a very good student."

Stent will be attending Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. She has not yet settled on a major.

"I am going to take a lot of general liberal arts classes before making a decision," she said. "I am interested in a lot of different things."

While this is a one-time award from the Class of 1968, Holiday hopes to encourage other classes to do the same on their 50th anniversaries.

"If other classes decide to take us up on the challenge, they might raise even more," said Holiday, adding there is no set amount and any little bit can help a student entering college.

"They can come up with their own criteria or I can turn over what we developed," he said.

Anyone interested in the 50th anniversary challenge can contact him at billholiday92@gmail.com.

Bob Audette can be contacted at 802-254-2311, ext. 151, or

raudette@reformer.com.

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