Win this quilt

During the CHANCES fundraising auction at Rustic Station March 15, there will be a drawing for this quilt, made by local quilting group, The Bernina Belles. CHANCES scholarships help Platte Canyon High School graduates pay for college tuition. Proceeds from the quilt drawing last year raised more than $400. (Photo by Emily Clingman/The Flume)

Though the canyon is frigid and covered in snow, high school seniors have their eyes set on spring and the excitement of graduation, which for most, means going to college.

For those of us folks still paying back student loans, it’s a reminder that college is expensive and college-bound kids need all the help they can get.

The Platte Canyon Area Chamber of Commerce is gearing up for its annual CHANCES fundraising campaign. Loosely meaning, taking a chance on kids who want to go to college, the CHANCES scholarship program helps Platte Canyon High School students with part of their college tuition.

The chamber’s main fundraiser for CHANCES is the St. Patty’s Day Mixer and Auction, held yearly at the Rustic Station in downtown Bailey. This year, the event will take place Sunday, March 15, 3-6 p.m.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Lynn Griffin, CHANCES committee chair, explaining that friendly bidding battles among attendees can be very exciting.

Wanting to surpass last year’s proceeds of about $7,000, Griffin would like to see the donations to this year’s fund grow to $10,000.

The scholarship is open to any PCHS senior planning on attending a two-year, four-year or technical college.

The CHANCES committee asks for examples of school, community, and volunteer activities and work experience. Two short essays about the applicant’s goals and aspirations as well as significant influences, which can include people or life experiences, are also required. The application should also include a letter or two of recommendation and the student’s transcript.

Everyone who applies gets something, the average individual scholarship ranges from $500-1,500. Scholarship awards are paid directly to the school the student will be attending.

What makes a CHANCES scholarship unique is that grade point average is not a priority criteria. The committee wants kids to showcase all of their strengths and interests in their scholarship application, not just a high GPA. It gives them an actual chance at winning the scholarship, even if they aren’t at the top of their class.

Not that anyone is discouraging kids from doing their best academically, it’s just a very competitive process and the committee members want local kids to tap into the support available right here in the community.

Lynda Henley, CHANCES committee member, also sees it as a way to help students pursue other areas of higher learning.

“Education is huge for me,” Henley said. “I see holes in the trade industry, plumbers and electricians, for instance. I’d like to see kids go to some sort of trade school if that’s their interest.”

Joann Bartczak, postgraduate coordinator at PCHS, considers the CHANCES program special.

“Students who might not think they would qualify for a scholarship are pleasantly surprised when they are awarded one,” Bartczak said.

She said students these days understand that full-ride scholarships are hard to come by and they need to take advantage of every opportunity available.

“It’s about putting the pieces together to make the college goal a reality.”

Overall, the community support is the significant factor in this equation.

Griffin wants kids to know, “We believe in you. We want you to go out and follow your dreams, then come back and teach us something, or better the community that you wind up in.”

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