Columbia High School Scholarship Fund Holds 2023 Award Reception

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Some of the students receiving scholarships.

The Columbia High School Scholarship Fund’s annual reception was held Wednesday to celebrate the students, graduating seniors and a few returning graduates who were awarded scholarships. The event was held in the library after school and was attended by some of the students, their friends and families, as well as several teachers and administrators. The attendance was slightly lower than expected due to the poor air quality.

In 2023, approximately $250,000 was awarded to 115 students, and since 1980 over $3,100,000 has been awarded to over 2,900 recipients.

One new scholarship this year was the Moussa Fofana Scholarship awarded to an outstanding CHS soccer player. The scholarship honors Fofana, a CHS student and soccer player, who was murdered in 2021.

The speakers included Carol Barry Austin, chair of the CHSSF selection committee, who welcomed everyone and CHS Principal Frank Sanchez, who thanked the graduated students who came back to support the current graduating seniors.

Principal Sanchez was followed by Ms. Carol Gallo, Corresponding Secretary for the scholarship fund who gave a brief history of the fund, which is celebrating its 100th year.

The fund is operated by an independent board of community volunteers with no paid staff. Their mission is to provide financial assistance to Columbia High School (CHS) seniors and graduates pursuing any form of post-secondary education. The fund is the largest provider of need-based scholarships in the Maplewood and South Orange community. The students attend two- and four- year colleges, trade and technical schools and even graduate schools. The recipients are often the first in their families to attend college. Their profiles have consistently shown that given the opportunity, they demonstrate motivation, perseverance, and a strong sense of personal responsibility.

Madeline Tugentman, President of CHSSF, explained how the process worked starting in March of this year. Applications were handed out on multiple days in multiple places to reach as many seniors as possible. The deadline for the application is just after April 15 because the application requires the parents’ tax filing. Once the fund has all the applications, the selection committee meets separately and then with the guidance department to determine the awards.

The need based scholarships are renewable until the student completes their education. This includes graduate studies as well.

One such student, Jaelen Clyburn, CHS ‘22, was at the reception. She is an ongoing recipient of the fund and attends Howard University. When asked how the scholarship affected her, she repsaid it makes her and her family’s life easier when it comes to paying tuition and that she “wanted to say thank you so much” to the donors that have made this possible for her.

Vice President Bridget Casey made a point to thank all the donors, noting that without them, there would be no scholarship fund. The students and donors were invited to introduce themselves and talk about their educational plans, and for the donors, why they support the fund.

Superintendent Ronald Taylor asked the seniors to keep in touch and report back on how they were doing, but more importantly, to keep reapplying for the scholarship because every bit helps.

The reception closed with a reminder of the fund’s annual fundraiser, the Red and Black Cocktail Party, Saturday, September 23 at the Maplewood Tennis Club, which will celebrate the fund’s 100th anniversary. CHSSF is a 501(C)(3) registered charity so donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. You can get further information by visiting the website at

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