$1 Million in Scholarships for Shamokin Students

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COAL TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- $1 million in scholarship money was announced for deserving students at Shamokin Area High School. It's all thanks to some former Shamokin Area High School graduates who want to honor their mother's memory.

Many high school seniors in our area are getting ready to go to college, including students in the Shamokin Area School District. But with increasing tuition prices, college is not for everyone. Two former Shamokin area graduates want to change that.

Brothers Keith and Allen Weikel recently started the Marian Eleanor Weikel Scholarship Fund in memory of their mother. They donated $1 million in scholarship money to Shamokin Area High School students.

"This is huge. I don't know of any other school that has something like this," Superintendent Chris Venna said.

Venna says every four years, a different Shamokin Area High School senior will get $40,000 per year for a four-year college.

"Basically, it's $160,000 that one of our graduating seniors can use to totally fund their education," Venna said.

There are some guidelines for the scholarship. The student must have at least a 3.5 grade point average, must demonstrate leadership, and must be in extreme financial need.

Venna tells Newswatch 16 the poverty rate in the Shamokin area school district is over 70%.

"It really shows the fact that we are in need, and this is a great opportunity for one of our students to make a better situation for themselves," Venna said.

Details have not been worked out yet with how the students will be chosen. The first scholarship recipient will be female to honor the Weikels' mother.

"I think it's a great opportunity for a student who's a hard worker, who maintains good grades, and is in financial need," Lauren Wagner said.

High school seniors are excited about the possibility of the scholarship.

"Of course you'd want to go to college, advance your studies, be able to do what you want. It's amazing that it's a possibility for some people," Payton Whary said.

"If you want to go to school you should be able to get there. And the scholarship is going to send somebody, basically for free," Abby Nye said.

The scholarship covers tuition, room and board, and textbooks. Shamokin Area administrators will make recommendations to the foundation about who should receive the scholarship money.

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