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Transylvania Times May 22, 2017

Connestee Falls: Scholarship Program Raises More Than $900,000

Bill Medl, Donna Hunter, Roxi Hewertson, Kathy Medl and Linda Fradley.Middle row: Will Toscani and Rick Salling. Front row: Nona Walker and Ellen O'Brien.

On May 17, volunteers working on the Connestee Falls Student Scholarship Program kicked off the Program's 30th year of raising money to help Transylvania County students attend college.

At the beginning in 1987, the founders of the program had one simple goal: raise enough money for one college scholarship for one student. And they did. Their golf tournament at the Connestee Falls golf course brought in $5,000, and they wrote their first scholarship check. They went on to establish the Student Scholarship Program as a not-for-profit organization and set their sights on helping even more students.

Over the last 29 years, with the continued, enthusiastic support of hundreds of residents of Connestee Falls, Brevard and Transylvania County, and the business owners of Brevard and Transylvania County, the program has raised more than $900,000, which has assisted more than 500 Transylvania County residents to afford their dreams of higher education.

In 2016 alone, a total of $79,500 was raised for scholarships, a 20 percent increase over the previous year. That amount was divided equally among Brevard College, Blue Ridge Community College, and Brevard and Rosman high schools.

All three school systems consider academic merit and financial need in determining who receives a scholarship.

BRCC makes awards through its Financial Aid and Scholarship Committee. For Brevard College, the Connestee Falls Scholarship is an integral component of the "Brevard Scholarship" initiative. At Rosman and Brevard high schools, graduating seniors are encouraged to apply for Connestee Falls scholarships. Transylvania County Schools has awarded 14 Connestee Falls scholarships this year, two more than last year.

Over the years, dozens of Connestee Falls residents have led and served on the committees that plan the fundraising events. This year, the first event will be Casino Night on June 10. It will be followed by sports tournaments, in the tradition of the first golf tournament 30 years ago. The bocce tournament will lead off on Aug. 10, followed by tennis on Aug. 11 and 12, golf on Sept. 15 and 16, and pickleball on Sept. 21, 22, and 23.

The Celebration of Education Gala will take place on Sept. 22, when scholarship recipients past and present will be honored.

The kick-off on May 17 included an interview on WSQL of Roxi Hewertson, chair of the Scholarship Program, and Carl Burkhardt, chair of the Connestee Falls Board of Directors, who discussed the history of the program and the goals for this year.

Hewertson explained how the program benefits not only the students but the community as well: "Our scholarship awardees are often working in our community, in our schools, hospitals, and contributing in so many positive ways precisely because they got a hand up to help them get their college education."

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