Godwin Scholarship Fund Increase is “Golden”

The winners of scholarships from the Golden Gs this year at Godwin Heights High School were in for a bit of a shock when they found out the size of the awards.

For the last eight years, the Golden Gs have awarded three students scholarships of $2,500 each. This year, six students received scholarships for $6,600 each.

“They acted dumbfounded,” said Norinne Polkowski, the scholarship chairperson who handed out the awards. “One even asked, ‘Is that for each one?'”

An anonymous donor made the jump in the size and number of awards possible, but it was kept under wraps until Class Day on May 16. “I couldn’t wait to do it,” Polkowski said.

Seniors receiving the scholarships were Katlynn Levian, Taijhah Claybrook, Alexis Gaertner, Rielle Walker, Justin Roop and Clemence Dusabe. Students were judged on an essay about their family, plus their leadership skills, community involvement, athletic participation and several other characteristics.

The awards given by the Golden Gs are special because they’re more personal than state or national ones, which have hundreds of applications, said Tish Stevenson, Godwin Heights counselor. “To have something so very local ups the odds for our kids, and they realize this,” Stevenson said. “They know those people are from Godwin.”

The Golden Gs started in 1945 as a way to organize reunions for Godwin students. Since 2000, a major focus became the scholarships. Polkowski said the scholarship project got started because the Golden Gs wanted to do something for community youth. “They can’t afford college if they don’t get help,” she said.

The group collects funds toward the scholarship year-round from a variety of activities and events. All of the contributions go straight into the fund, with nothing subtracted for costs.

Polkowski said there have been lots of success stories since the awards started being given. She remembers a girl who was able to go to college because of the $2,500 scholarship she won. “She ended up getting a master’s and a Ph.D., and now works for government,” Polkowski said.

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Linda Odette
Linda Odette is a freelance writer and editor with more than 30 years of experience in journalism. She’s worked primarily as an editor in feature departments at newspapers in West Michigan, including the Grand Rapids Press, the Muskegon Chronicle and the Holland Sentinel. She lives in East Grand Rapids near the Eastown edge, has a teenage son and a daughter in college. Read Linda's full bio

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