What’s going on here?

This is a copy of the letter we sent out years ago to get this thing kicked off. I think it helps show a bit of the history of the award that now has given out $33,300. Thanks for all you’ve done to date and here’s to another great year!

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Hey all – Hope this letter finds each of you well. I figured the best way to spread news about a new venture Beth (Ramach) Phillips (2002 FHN Grad, 026er, and now joining me as one of the media advisers at North) and I are undertaking is to just post a letter for each of you to read and hopefully you can pass it along to someone you were in the room with. I am still in contact with many former staffers, but not all so I’m hoping you can step in and help me reach them.

I’ve been toying for years with the idea of getting an annual scholarship fund started for graduating FHN Journalism Staff Members. It’s something I feel is needed and deserved. My only regret is that I wasn’t able to start it sooner. I got the idea from one of my colleagues out in Colorado who has established a similar scholarship fund for graduating seniors at a school where he taught.

It’s a pretty simple concept that we would like to replicate here to help seniors from 026 at North. Current staffers would have the option to apply for the scholarship that would be weighted 20% on need, 20% on an essay and 60% on samples of their work. Graduates of the program would be the ones who get to select the winner(s).

It’s pretty much a win-win for everyone here. You all get to feel good about helping someone that you have a connection with (the 026 connection) and someone out there gets some financial assistance for college.

I know the big question here is, “How do we fund this thing?”

Let me catch a few of you up to speed here quickly. The journalism program at North is…to say the very least…robust. We currently have 80 staffers in three different production hours and so many students wanting to take intro classes that Beth Phillips will be teaching a full half-schedule of intro journalism courses next year while I have a full journalism load. When I started at North 10 years ago there weren’t enough students enrolled for me to have a full journalism schedule. It’s pretty amazing stuff. If you haven’t checked out the staff’s website, FHNtoday.com, you really should give it a look. They just won their second Pacemaker in three years in April.

Led by a push from Phillips this year, the program won $2,500 through winning the Cornerstone Award. The award honors schools that actively promote and follow the First Amendment. It was a pretty huge deal to win. We have agreed to fund one or two scholarships this year with that money, in hopes of replenishing the money to give more next year.

That all really depends on you all though. What we are simply asking is for graduates who would like to be a part of this to donate $1 a month to the fund. That would be $12 a year. (You could just write one annual check for $12 rather than sending a $1 check each month — just sayin.)  🙂

If we had 50 former staffers get on board with that each year we could fund a $600 scholarship annually for a student. If we get more participation, who knows how many we could honor.

To show you I’m serious about this, I’m making the first donation and putting in $100 to get things going. That’s not a challenge for you all to outdo me, I’m simply asking for $1 a month. $12 from each of you could go a long way. Of course, if you’d like to round it off to $15 or $20, that would be cool too.

As a donor, you would have the option to be on the scholarship selection committee. I plan to have a BBQ in mid-May that donors will be invited to. We will have a little reunion for a couple hours and you all can select the scholarship recipient during that time.

I think this would be a great way to give back to the program if you feel it gave you something during your time there and you’d be doing a great deed.

I know there are logistics that still need to work out that I haven’t thought of; however, I wanted to stop thinking about it and actually do it. Hopefully, some of you will feel so moved to join us. I’ve included a menu item entitled “Donate to the Scholarship” on the scholarship’s website. That should give you the information you need on how you can donate. Any contribution to the fund is tax deductible.

If you have questions or would like more information, my email is below. Likewise, if you’re ready to jump on board, let me know that too and I’ll add you to the list I’m working to compile.

Thanks for reading this whole thing. I really appreciate it and I’m sure some high school student this year or in years to come will appreciate you reading this as well. As I said above, I’d love for you to pass this along as well to former staffer friends you keep in contact with or are Facebook friends with.

Thanks for all you have done in the past to inspire me to be the best I can daily.

I look forward to hearing from you.


Aaron Manfull
Media Adviser
Francis Howell North High School

e. aaronmanfull@gmail.com