New Scholarship Announced by the Fort Gay High School Alumni Association for Community and Tech
The Fort Gay High School Alumni Association (FGHSAA) will be offering a new scholarship in partnership with Mount West Community and Technical College located in Huntington, WV. This scholarship is an outgrowth of the original four-year scholarship that began in 1998. At that time, the FGHSAA’s aim was to create a memorial to Fort Gay High School which had been consolidated along with Crum High School to form Tolsia High School. The Alumni Association felt that creating the scholarship was the ideal way to assist the area youth in achieving a college education through a four-year scholarship. From that, the widely recognized and praised FGHS Memorial Scholarship, which currently supports four students who attend Marshall University, was born. This scholarship will continue to grow and remain the primary focus of the alumni group.
The Alumni Association realized that there was a need for a scholarship to cover a broader scope of college eligible high school students. The Alumni Association stated, “It is widely believed by industry and by educators that there is a real crisis in finding skilled labor to support our rapidly expanding economy. Statistics show that there are many jobs going unfilled simply because there are not enough skilled laborers to fill them.” This shortage of skilled laborers can also affect companies’ decisions when looking for prospective areas to expand or move to. One of the first things they will look at is what is the composition of the local labor force (e.g. are they adequate in their training and numbers?). This was the one of the original aims when the Alumni Association created the FGHS Memorial Scholarship- “…to educate the young people and attract them back to their roots area and apply their trade.” However, this scholarship still fell short of reaching that broader population of students.
Thus, the Alumni Association created the FGHS Alumni Association Scholarship for Community and Technical College, to pick up where the original scholarship left off. The FGHS Alumni Association realized that not all students wanted to attend a four-year degree program. They did not want to deny any student an opportunity whether they wanted to attend a four-year college or not. The Alumni Association’s Board of Directors looked at graduating students at Tolsia and surveyed the school’s faculty to determine that a larger number of their students that went on to two-year tech schools attended Mount West Community and Technical College.
Unlike the FGHS Memorial scholarship, which is endowed at Marshall University, the new scholarship is founded as an expendable fund scholarship, meaning that the Alumni Association will have to raise funds each year to support it. They hope that as the scholarship grows, they can add in other tech schools to the scholarship program, such as Southern in Williamson, WV, perhaps Ashland Community and Technical College, and others. “We recognize that one school cannot meet all the demands of all the students, but we have also found that through experience it’s best to start a program small and expand when there is expansion without risk,” the Alumni Association explained.
The new scholarship became official on March 1, 2019. Students who wish to be candidates for the scholarship must be graduating seniors of Tolsia High School and a U.S. citizen. They must maintain a full-time status (12 hours) and a 2.5 grade point average. The first two recipients will be enrolled in the fall semester. Students who are interested in this scholarship should contact a faculty member at Tolsia High School or at Mount West. The Alumni Association urges students to make their contacts at their earliest convenience. The scholarships will be awarded at Honors Day at Tolsia High School during the month May. The FGHS Alumni Association Board WILL NOT be involved in the selection of the scholarship’s recipients.
“We do firmly believe as an Association that if we are to ever change the world to a better place to live that the place to start is with the youth of our country through education and we want and are proud to be a part of that process,” stated the Alumni Association’s committee member.
The Alumni Association wants to encourage area residents to support this scholarship through donations and/or participation in their annual Joe Damron Memorial Golf Tournament held on Labor Day weekend each year. For more information about this and other fund-raising events please contact any member of the FGHSAA board.
*Information provided by Board Members Mayor Joetta Hatfield and Richard Plymale.