CONWAY — For the past two decades, each spring at the annual Kennett High School senior scholarship awards program, a host of Eagles have received Farrington Scholarships. Over 20 years, the Eleanor E. Farrington Trust awarded more than 600 scholarships to college-bound Eagles, totaling more than $2 million.
It appears the final flock of Eagles to receive the Farrington scholarship was the Class of 2019.
News of scholarship running its apparent course went public last week when Jennifer Murphy, director of school counseling at Kennett High, met with the Conway School Board on Oct. 28.
She was giving the board an update on the KHS scholarship process and the work a committee had recently done.
“The other thing I wanted to bring forward was our biggest scholarship that we have had for the past 20 years, they’re now giving money to a college,” Murphy said. “That was something in the (deed or will) that Farrington would give to Kennett High School students for 20 years, after that 20 years it would go to Smith College. So, we will not be giving out about $110,000 to our Senior Class this year.”
Last June, 35 seniors received Farrington scholarships.
Kennett awarded $302,270 in scholarships to 77 students in 2019.
“Again, the Mount Washington Valley community went above and beyond to support this wonderful group of students,” said Murphy on June 6.
“When it comes to supporting education, this particular community puts its money where its mouth is,” added retiring principal Neal Moylan.
Little is known about the Farrington Scholarship, which is part of the Eleanor E. Farrington Trust, a private grant-making foundation. According to its website, the scholarship is designed to provide “funds for needy Kennett High School students who are residents of Conway.”
The site adds, “established in 1999 in Massachusetts, Eleanor E. Farrington Trust is headquartered in Providence, R.I. In recent tax filings, the organization reported assets of $2.4 million (as of 2018).”
“My understanding is that she owned a summer home here,” Murphy shared via email Thursday.
Applicants for the scholarship, which ranged from $1,500 to $5,000, had to live in Conway and be a senior “planning to enroll in full-time undergraduate study at an accredited four-year college or university for the entire upcoming academic year. Must have a minimum grade point average of 2.25. Considerations are based on academic merit and financial need.”
The loss of the Farrington scholarship has school officials and community members looking for other revenue sources.
“Ted Kramer (of Madison and KHS Class of 1959) talked about reaching out to the (Kennett) Alumni Association and letting the alumni know that we will no longer be able to provide that amount of money to our students, and if they wanted to step up,” Murphy said.
“Good time for the community to step up,” said Joe Lentini, board chairman.
Superintendent Kevin Richard added: “If anybody wants to donate a scholarship, anybody in the general public, it’s probably best for them to touch base with (Murphy, at KHS, 603-356-4343). It’s a very giving community but if people are wondering how (to help).”
Murphy also spoke about a committee — school board members Joe Mosca and Cheri Sullivan, Terry O’Brien, Ted Kramer, Cristina Campo, Josh McAllister, Maryanne Orsino, Audrey Orsino, KHS Assistant Principal Katie Meserve, KHS Principal Kevin Carpenter and Monika Cullen — which came together earlier this fall to look at the scholarship application process.
“I think we came up with some quick easy things to try to make it better for students and families,” Murphy said.
The committee came up with four goals: to determine the current reality of the scholarship program for students, parents and committees; to make the process less confusing and cumbersome for students; to discuss how to communicate scholarship information transparently to parents; and to increase applications of eligible students for committees.
“The steps we were able to quickly take was to add a section on the front page of the Kennett website that lists specific scholarships,” Murphy said. “As soon as we know of one we will post it on there. I’ve been reminding and sending out school messages and announcements to let parents know that they are out there and up there (on the website at tinyurl.com/y5qdhufb).”
Murphy is working on a letter “to try and make the process less confusing” and “to do that I need to communicate with committee that uses one application and then committees that use multiple applications and try to ask those committees if they would be willing to come to this one standard one in an effort to make it less confusing.”
The committee, according to Murphy, also looked at the website Going Merry (goingmerry.com), an online database of regional and local scholarships.
“We can actually import our local scholarship program into this system that would allow students kind of like the common application where they’re only filling out one application and it gets sent to multiple colleges,” she said. “This database would do the same thing. Really it would be just one scholarship application going to different organizations.”
If some details can be worked out, Murphy hopes to implement Going Merry at Kennett next year.
“Thank you for putting this group together,” Sullivan said. “It was nice to hear ideas from everybody and the information you brought forward is exciting.”
Lentini wondered about the scholarship selection process. “Do the different scholarship committees look at each other’s (applications) to see who they are giving to,” he asked. “What I noticed some times were some kids would do amazingly well and get multiple scholarships, and some kids who are not that far off would get quite a bit less.”
“I would just say from my perspective,” answered Mosca, who sits on a scholarship committee, “when I look at what is sent to me and there are typos, misspellings and grammatical errors, if that kid is ranked No. 1, they go to the bottom of the pile. I think a lot of the other scholarships do that, too. They look at everything, they read everything and look at all the child has to offer. People from other committees have said the same thing — if there are wrong things we don’t even look at them. It would behoove families to proofread whatever their children are sending out.”
“If my children are sending anything to you, I would make sure everything is triple-checked,” Lentini said, smiling, and his fellow board members agreed that Mosca is incredibly thorough when reviewing paperwork.
“You could hire yourself out,” Michelle Capozzoli said to Mosca.