MAPLEWOOD / SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — This year the Columbia High School Scholarship Fund awarded $248,710 to 129 Columbia High School students. The average award amount was close to $2,000.
“People have been very generous during the pandemic. We couldn’t exist without our sponsors and donors who give us money every year, especially our local organizations, like the Maplewood Woman’s Club, the Garden Club, the Rotary Club and our very committed reunion classes,” CHSSF President Madeline Tugentman told the News-Record. Tugentman has been president since 2019 and has served on the fund’s board for 12 years.
The CHSSF was established in 1923 by the Columbia High School Home and School Association to help Columbia graduates needing financial assistance with their postsecondary education. To ensure that the CHSSF would last for many generations, an endowment was established in the early 1930s by CHS teacher Ida Grace Alexander and her family. Almost 100 years later, CHSSF is the largest provider of need-based scholarships in South Orange and Maplewood.
Since its creation, the CHSSF has awarded almost $2 million in scholarships to approximately 1,600 students.
CHSSF scholarships can be used for any post–high school studies, including trade school, community college and university. Some students have reapplied over several years and have even used funds toward their graduate studies. Applicants must have been a CHS student or graduate. Many of the fund’s awardees are the first to attend any form of post–high school education in their families.
“The thing that’s always so awe inspiring to me is the people who have no connection to these students but are supporting them because they just want to help,” Tugentman said. “They know education is important, and they’re people in our community, alumni, who just want to help the students of Columbia succeed in their life through the foundation of study and education.”
Avery S. is currently using her scholarship from the fund to complete a degree in art history with double minors in organic chemistry and archaeology at Rutgers University.
“The CHS Scholarship Fund allows me to alleviate some of the financial stress from school, so that I am able to use my savings for other opportunities. This summer I was able to travel to Italy for a field school in ceramic art restoration,” she told the News-Record. “Through this, I furthered my career in conservation and completed my requirements for a degree in archaeology. I’m so grateful for this scholarship, as I’ve stayed connected to the CHS community while furthering my academic goals.”
Dylan J., who is using his CHSSF grant to pursue an industrial engineering degree from Rutgers University–New Brunswick’s School of Engineering, explained how the scholarship has allowed him the freedom to pursue extracurriculars instead of worrying about finances in order to complete his degree.
“This scholarship gave me the opportunity to make connections with my fellow peers as well as open the door to the internship I am currently in; I am a sales and operations intern at the company Ryder,” he told the News-Record. “I was also a manager for the DI basketball team for my first two years, and now I am the president of the club team. Although I hurt myself badly at the end of last semester and won’t be able to play in this upcoming club basketball season, I am very excited to coach and improve the program in any way I can. This scholarship has provided me with so many opportunities and many more to come. I am forever grateful for the consistent consideration from the donors of the Columbia High School Scholarship Fund.”
CHSSF volunteers collaborate with the CHS guidance team to reach eligible students, and spend days on campus handing out applications and answering questions from students and parents. Prior to the pandemic students would have the opportunity to meet their donors in a scholarship reception in the late spring each year. Tugentman hopes that this will be a reality again in 2023, along with the fund’s annual Red & Black Cocktail Fundraiser, which also hasn’t been held in several years due to COVID-19. She is hopeful that in the fall of 2023, the entire Maplewood and South Orange community will be able to come together to celebrate 100 years of the CHSSF providing scholarships to area students. For more information, visit www.chssf.org.
Photos Courtesy of Madeline Tugentman