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Cimino: Scholarship season the most wonderful time of the year

I've been thinking about ... "It's the most wonderful time of the year," with a grateful nod to Andy Williams that may be a slight exaggeration.

But here we are in the midst of scholarship season at the Community Foundation, tooling up for the onslaught of applications we will receive between now and June.

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We are honored to serve the donors who establish them in honor of a family member or in honor of a lifetime of great service to the community. No matter why or who starts them we are working hard to make sure students know about them and that the donor's intent is honored and carried out. Parents and students are invited to go to our webpage, www.carrollcommunityfoundation.org and look around. Each of our 90 scholarships has its own page that proclaims its purpose and has the criteria and application available for printing. Applications are reviewed by staff to make sure all the requirement are met and call the student if something is missing. Then the applications are packages and sent the review committees who will make selections that are then approved by the Community Foundations Board of Directors. Our board also has a committee that reviews a few scholarships that we have been asked to take care of.

Each year there are two waves of applications and awards. First are the scholarships available to graduating seniors from all of our Carroll County high schools. A few of these are awarded during the year at the Career and Technology Center — nursing and diesel mechanics, for example — but most are awarded in June at the various award ceremonies. We have tried to make it convenient for applicants by listing the scholarships by school so people don't have to slug through all of them. That only works for some, as quite a few of our scholarships are offered to more than one school. When a family member can't make the presentation, someone from my office —myself, staff or board member — attends every one of the award ceremonies. We are honored to do it.

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The second part of our scholarship year begins in June and ends at the 4-H Fair in August. We are honored to attend the annual livestock auction every year to award the scholarships specifically designated for the youth in Carroll County who belong to the 4-H program. That is more fun than an adult should be allowed to have. These youngsters are a credit to their parents, 4-H, the community and themselves. I'm always amazed that the 4-H kids don't participate more fully in our first wave of scholarships. A word to the wise.

There are also a few specialty scholarships that don't fit squarely into either of the above groups. We have a scholarship for veterinary technician and also veterinary school; poultry and egg judging at the Maryland State Fair; medical school; culinary arts; commercial driving school and one for a local middle school that encourages kids to stay in school and have money to go to college when they are ready. We also hold the scholarships for the statewide programs for Distinguished Young Women of Maryland and also the Miss Maryland Scholarship Program.

Last year alone over $200,000 in scholarship money was awarded and we have been doing this for 23 years.

Audrey Cimino is executive director of The Community Foundation of Carroll County. She writes from Westminster.

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