Even though it’s been more than 60 years since they graduated high school, members of Sumner High School’s class of 1956 have stayed in touch.
Not only that, but they still get together for lunch every few years, according to class of 1956 member Rosie Trujillo.
“Our class is very, very close-knit,” said Trujillo, 80. “A bunch of us live in the area.”
And it’s because of their closeness that the class of ’56 gets to give back to Sumner High School in a way that many classes don’t — through scholarships.
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1956 had a graduating class of 91 students. Now, 64 of them are still alive, 12 have died and the whereabouts of the remaining 15 are unknown, Trujillo said.
But those remaining members still get together. Many members of the class went on to start careers in teaching and developed a passion for education. Last year, the class of ’56 started their very own scholarship after having leftover funds from their 60th class reunion.
“We decided to do something worthwhile with it. We wanted to do something unique from our class, so we decided we’d give a scholarship,” Trujillo said.
We decided to do something worthwhile with it. We wanted to do something unique from our class, so we decided we’d give a scholarship.
Rosie Trujillo, Sumner High School Class of 1956
Last year, one student received $1,000 from the SHS Class of 1956 Scholarship. This year, three recipients will be selected to each receive $1,900.
The class more than tripled the amount of money from their first scholarship, thanks to a donation by one of the classmates. The classmate, who prefered not to be named, said scholarships are so much more important than they used to be.
“My thoughts were that we were very lucky to be able to work as children and save for advance education,” the classmate said in an email. “We didn’t have credit cards, cell phone(s), so we didn’t have debt. Scholarships help some of our students… Our class of ‘56 would like to help the current students of Sumner High School.”
Trujillo, who’s responsible for selecting the winners, agreed, pointing out that many of her applicants are working on top of going to school, helping out family members rather than saving up for themselves.
“I think nowadays there is more of a need (for scholarships) because of the single family situation. A lot of these (applicants) are from single families,” she said. “I saw a lot of that when I read them last year.”
Still, the selection process is a challenging one. Trujillo spends hours looking through the scholarship applications. This year, there were 24.
24 students applied for the Sumner High School Class of 1956 Scholarship this year.
“I pray that God gives me wisdom to choose the right person… it’s really, really hard,” Trujillo said.
But the work was worth it when last year’s recipient, Taylor Benedetti, gave Trujillo a big hug after the announcement.
“He was so surprised when he got it,” Trujillo said. “It was worth every bit of it.”
This year’s recipients will be announced at the Sumner High School Awards Night at 7 p.m. on May 31 at the Sumner High School Performing Arts Center.
The scholarship is one of many that students can apply for through the Sumner-Bonney Lake Education Foundation, which was established in 2000 and raises money to support student scholarships. Last year, the foundation awarded more than 80 scholarships at a total of $125,000, according to foundation secretary Carol Jurgensen.
The class of 1956 hopes to continue the scholarship as long as they can.
“Our scholarship is from our hearts, from each of our classmates,” Trujillo said.