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BMC scholarship program earns national recognition

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BRUSHTON - The Brushton-Moira Dollars for Scholars program is receiving a $2,000 award from Scholarship America, after being selected as the National Dollars for Scholars New Affiliate.

“The New Affiliate of the Year Award honors and recognizes Dollars for Scholars affiliates that have been performing outstanding service to their community for less than five years and that exemplify the commitment of Dollars for Scholars, a division of Scholarship America, to ensuring all students have access to postsecondary education,” the Brushton-Moira Dollar for Scholars press release states.

The program at BMC has been around for three years, according to program President Jim Berns.

But Mr. Berns hasn’t been involved from the start.

“I came in this year as president,” he said.

Mr. Berns is also a special education teacher at BMC for fifth- and sixth-graders.

The program generates funds for graduating seniors through fundraising as well as donations.

Since its revival in April 2011, the program, formerly known as the Brushton-Moira Scholarship Fund, has been able to award graduating BMC seniors more than $121,000, according to the press release.

Mr. Berns said the national award will be received Oct. 23 when members of the scholarship program attend Scholarship America’s fifth annual Dollars for Scholars awards dinner in Minneapolis.

“We are very excited to have been awarded the National New Affiliate Award and receive this recognition,” Angela DeBeer, treasurer of Brushton-Moira Dollars for Scholars, said in an email. “Since we are a small, rural school community, this award truly shows how much our organization has accomplished and the impact that it has had on Brushton-Moira Central graduates given that this is a National Recognition of all the Dollars for Scholars organizations. It is a true testament of the hard work of our volunteers and students as well as the tremendous support from our local community.”

Mr. Berns and Superintendent Donna André also noted their excitement for the recognition and award.

“Dollars for Scholars will be sending a video crew to BMC to capture the events sponsored by our DFS group,” Ms. André said in an email. “The parents, students and staff members who are involved in DFS are an amazingly enthusiastic and dedicated group.”

Ms. André also noted that the program will be hosting a Duck Derby on Sept. 20 as a fundraising event for the program.

Mr. Berns said the program will split the funds with the winner.

The Dollars for Scholars BMC program also recently received $750 from a fundraiser held on Aug. 9, according to Mr. Berns.

Mr. Berns said the fundraiser, the Brushton Fun to Run 5K/10K run and walk, was the first of its kind, concocted by two former BMC students and one of their parents.

Dwayne Ghostlaw and Luke Ducharme and Luke’s father, Jude, were able to organize the event, which drew 73 participants.

Mr. Berns also noted that $750 was given to the Brushton-Moira cross country team, as the event was held to provide funds for both programs.

Jude Ducharme said the three mulled over the idea of hosting a fundraiser to help benefit the programs for a few years.

“We figured they were two good causes for our area,” Mr. Ducharme said.

Mr. Ghostlaw said the discussion was based on issues the district had faced –– having to cut funding to different school programs just to maintain its budget.

“The economy hasn’t really rebounded yet,” he said.

Mr. Ghostlaw said as it is and has been, the cross country team has never had a large budget to work with.

Mr. Ghostlaw also noted that the Dollars for Scholars program, which started shortly before the end of his senior year, was also a good cause in its efforts to help students receive some money prior to entering college.

“Every little bit helps,” he said, noting that the program is still impacting him in his college career today.

Mr. Ghostlaw said he received around $4,000 in scholarship funds through the program.

Mr. Ghostlaw graduated from BMC in 2011.

He is currently attending SUNY Oswego as an adolescence education major.

Luke Ducharme received $700 upon graduation for helping raise money for the program and will be in his second year of attending SUNY Adirondack in Queensbury, Jude Ducharme said. He is studying to be a vet tech, according to his father.

Luke graduated from BMC in 2013.

Ms. André, who attended the fundraising event, noted that some of the participants were also graduates from BMC.

“It was great to meet people who were graduates of BMC living in the community and people from outside the area with friends who were running,” she said in her email. “It was a beautiful day and I hope it becomes a tradition.”

“We are very thankful to Dwayne Ghostlaw, Luke Ducharme, Jude Ducharme and Debbie Ducharme [Luke’s mother] on all their hard work and it is also wonderful to see former BM Dollars for Scholars Award winners give back to our organization,” Ms. DeBeer said in an email.

Dollars for Scholars is an organization that collects funds to help benefit students who plan on attending college.

Seniors then receive the scholarships “based on their service and involvement in the organization,” the press release states.

“Scholarship America’s mission is to mobilize America, through scholarships and educational support, to make postsecondary success possible for all students,” according to the Scholarship America’s website. “Our vision is one of a world in which the completion of higher education with manageable debt is a reality for all.”

According to the press release, Scholarship America has distributed over “$3.1 billion in scholarship assistance to more than 2 million students, funding both entry-level and multi-year scholarships and emergency financial grants” since 1958.

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