Friday, July 20, 2007

For a good cause

I had a wonderful time recently at an enjoyable event for a worthy cause. The Violet H. Simmons Scholarship Fund celebrated its 25th anniversary with a dinner at Listening Rock Farm in Wassaic to support its Summer Enrichment Program. Speakers included 1963 Webutuck graduate Sandy Berger, who served as National Security Advisor under President Bill Clinton.

The Simmons Scholars program was created in 1982 to honor Miss Simmons, a history teacher at Webutuck for 48 years. While at the event, I enjoyed hearing former students of Miss Simmons describe the value they found in her teaching methods, which, while familiar to anyone who has attended a college of the liberal arts, were unconventional for a high school teacher. An endowment created at the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation allows the fund each year to award a Webutuck High School student a $10,000 merit scholarship (in four equal installments) throughout their college years. The fund has, to date, benefited 37 students. The fund recently received a $25,000 grant as part of its $70,000 capital campaign to endow a Summer Enrichment Program to allow Webutuck graduates to explore the world. The campaign will also enable them to increase the Simmons scholarship from one $10,000 scholarship to two $10,000 scholarships.

Among those on hand were Hudson Valley Connoisseur magazine’s founding editor-in-chief, Meg Downey, who came from Nashville, Tennessee, where she now is managing editor of The Tennessean. (Meg’s husband, Ed Downey, an attorney and a trustee of the Simmons Scholarship Fund, was an organizer of the event.) That’s Meg, at right, in the photo above with me (left) and friend Joe Bostian (center.)

Hudson Valley Connoisseur photo by Michael Sibilia

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