Two scholarships show deep commitment to Noble Central

 page image
Posted on:
Gordon and Betty Mae Stewart

Two new scholarships available to Grade 12 students at Noble Central School indicate the strong bonds in the community that extend decades.

The $500 Zech Family Scholarship was awarded for the first time in June 2014, and the $1,000 Gordon and Betty Mae Stewart Scholarship will be awarded for the first time this year. The new scholarships come at an opportune time with two other scholarships having run their course and ended.

The Gordon and Betty Mae Stewart Scholarship will provide $1,000 to one recipient annually for 25 years. Established by the couple’s daughters, Laurie Hacker, Barbara Stewart and Patti Stewart, the award speaks to the Stewarts long devotion to the school and the Nobleford Community.

Gordon, who passed away in 2009, was the grandson of one of the area’s original homesteaders who settled there at the turn of the century. Betty Mae, who passed away in 2014, also lived her entire life in the area, was a Noble Central graduate, a substitute teacher at the school, and a member of several service clubs and organizations devoted to the community.

Patti says all the Stewart children graduated from Noble Central. Barbara Stewart was inducted to Palliser’ Regional Schools’ Wall of Fame, acknowledging her career in medicine.

“We felt this was an appropriate way to honour our parents,” Patti says. “Mom and Dad were born and raised in the Monarch and Nobleford area, and everything revolved around the school.

“We believe they would be proud to know that they will be supporting a number of local students as they fulfil their dream of further education.”

The Zech Family Scholarship, started by Don and Carol Zech, awards $500 to one recipient annually and also represents the importance of the school not only as the centre of community life, but as central to one individual. Don is the vice-chair of Palliser Regional Schools Board of Trustees and former chair, who represents the Nobleford area on the board.

Don Zech has been a long-time supporter of our school,” says Noble Central Principal Kathy Oviatt. “His history is deeply intertwined with the history of the school as a student, an educator, principal, board chairman, trustee and now scholarship sponsor. His commitment to education and to this community is undeniable.”

He attended Noble Central from Grade 1 through graduation. He was the valedictorian of the Class of 1962. He served as both a teacher and administrator there and his daughters, Shannon and Andrea, are Noble Central alumni.

Zech says he had intended for the scholarship to begin once he retired from the Board of Trustees, but he saw a more immediate need at the school.

“Going on to post-secondary (education) is not cheap, and every bit of support helps,” he says.

Because of this need, Zech is considering increasing the amount of the scholarship and building the fund so it can be self-sustaining.

To be eligible for either scholarship, applicants must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents, and have completed their Grade 12 at Noble Central School. In addition to demonstrating academic excellence, candidates must fill out an application form, provide a letter of support from a teacher and write an essay on the importance of giving back to the community with examples of their personal involvement. The Stewarts and Zechs will work with school representatives to review applications and select the recipient of their respective awards.

“Because scholarships such as this focus on the whole person and not just the academic or athletic achievement, it is a scholarship that is open to many recipients who may be limited because they are neither the top athlete nor the valedictorian in the academic realm,” says Principal Oviatt.  “Candidates for this scholarship are kids who are striving to be their best in all areas of their lives. The money is significant but the real reward is the recognition of excellence, integrity, service, that this community values and takes pride in.”

Noble Central School serves more than 200 students in its early learning program through Grade 12. In January 2014, the Alberta Government announced a commitment to modernize the school. Planning continues for that project. The original part of the school opened in 1949.