MCOE Education Spotlight: Students recognized at Honor Scholars Dinner

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- In ABC30's segment, Education Spotlight, Action News Anchor Landon Burke will talk with Merced County Office of Education (MCOE) officials about some of the biggest topics in education.

This week a group of exceptional North Valley students was recognized for their achievements in school and community.

Landon Burke heard about the Virginia Smith Trust Honors Dinner and how it got its name.

Dr. Steve Tietjen: The Virginia Smith Trust is a trust given to the Merced County Office of Education for the children of Merced County by Virginia Smith, who is the heiress of a land fortune that her grandfather built back in the 1850s and 60s. Virginia gave all of her assets to Merced County, and so it brought the UC to Merced. We donated the land to UC, and they decided to come here, and they gave us what was left. Now we're in titling 650 acres to further enhance the scholarships. The big change this year was that we were able to enhance our giving from about $100,000 to over $500,000. We gave away about 83 scholarships. There were 17 that were multiple-year, four-year scholarships, $5,000 a year, $20,000 total, to 17 students El Capitan, Merced High and Golden Valley High. We expect this trust to grow over the next three years as we entitle the property and begin developing it so that we'll be able to provide scholarships to all students in Merced County. So everybody in Merced County has a great aunt Virginia. Isn't that wonderful?

Landon: Very good. Now, Dr. Tietjen, What can you tell us about the Honors Scholars dinner that was earlier this week?

Dr. Tietjen: So the Honors Scholars dinner identifies 17 students that really were outstanding, kind of the very top of the top of their class. Students that showed not only outstanding academic success but also were students that volunteered that provided support for community activities. They really earned the special recognition of a four-year scholarship. The other students are receiving a nice scholarship, too. They're receiving $2,500 or $3,500 for their first year as freshmen, and we're excited for those kids as well.

Landon: Very good. Well, Dr. Tietjen, anything else you wanted to share?

Dr. Tietjen: So in the next couple of years, we'll be taking the scholarship county-wide. So those of you who are wondering how to qualify, it's really about being a 3.0 student. It's about living in Merced County for at least three years and attending a high school right now in the city of Merced. But we're growing here in Merced County, and we're going to give a lot of money away, so if you want to have a great place to raise your kids, come to Merced County.
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