Teton County Scholarship and Awards Night

Rayne Wikoff, right, is congratulated by Lisa Simmons and Lisa Jennings at the 2018 Scholarship Night. The coronavirus outbreak canceled the in-person event, but seniors across Teton County are still taking some money with them to college.

Even though they are homebound, seniors are still looking ahead to college or other postsecondary opportunities, and many of them are getting some help to pay for the next phase of their education.

The Fund for Public Education announced this week that 148 seniors received money from 85 scholarships through the Teton County Scholarship Fund. More than $750,000 was awarded to students, and not just for traditional four-year programs.

“What we’ve begun to do is recognize that there are so many experiences that reflect achievement,” said Jennifer Jellen, the Fund for Public Education’s executive director. “We’re working to create a variety of different scholarships that honor different experiences.”

Jellen’s organization took over management of the scholarship fund this year, working with the Community Foundation of Jackson Hole and Jackson Hole High School. A team reviewed a record number of applications, nearly double that of previous years.

Under Jellen, the Fund for Public Education has had a strong focus on educational equity and creating opportunities for all students, regardless of socioeconomic status or postsecondary plans. For the scholarship fund, she said, that included awards for specific industries and technical education like nursing and the culinary arts, as well as several awards for students who will be the first in their families to attend college.

Part of creating equity was ensuring that all students were able to access the application. The team moved the application online and put out a Spanish-language version.

“That’s something we thought was really important,” Jellen said. “That means more kids can work on these applications with their families, so kids and parents can participate in the process together.”

In lieu of Scholarship Night, when students traditionally have received their awards in person, Jellen hopes to hold a virtual celebration. She plans to publish the names of all scholarship recipients in the May 6 Jackson Hole News&Guide.

“We’re looking to create something that might happen later this summer,” she said, “but it’s important to recognize that we are still celebrating these kids.”

Contact Tom Hallberg at 732-7079 or thallberg@jhnewsandguide.com.

Tom Hallberg covers a little bit of everything, from skiing to long-form feature stories. A Teton Valley, Idaho, transplant by way of Portland and Bend, Oregon, he spends his time outside work writing fiction, splitboarding and climbing.

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