The Gary Atkinson Imagine Scholarship
Named in honor of Gary Atkinson, an LHS Class of ‘73 graduate and our valedictorian, "The Gary Atkinson Imagine Scholarship" is awarded annually to a promising Ledyard High School graduating senior.
Contemplating our fiftieth reunion in 2023, surviving members of LHS Class of ‘73 established the Scholarship also to meaningfully show our appreciation for LHS itself—the place where we all grew and learned together, something that was important to Gary, who was also the Student Council President. In doing so, our class wishes to honor our fallen classmate, who was tragically taken from us altogether too early. Gary, along with his wife Judy were among the 270 victims that perished on Dec. 21, 1988 in Pan Am Flight 103 that exploded through terrorism over Lockerbie, Scotland.
The Scholarship's goal is to financially support those who exemplify Gary's many virtues as outlined in the Recipient Selection Criteria.
The inclusion of “Imagine” in the scholarship name, incorporates LHS Class of ‘73 alumni’s wish to highlight the sentiment Gary exemplified of leaning toward a world where “we all live as one” as advocated by John Lennon’s song by that name by that name, released during the Class of ‘73’s era.
Scholarship Recipient Selection Criteria
Creators of The Gary Atkinson Imagine Scholarship ask that the LHS staff use the following criteria in their recipient selection process. Students who:
Demonstrate leadership in making their world (LHS or their outside community) a better place
Exhibit kindness toward others, even under difficult circumstances
Invest in themselves to advance their capacity to make greater altruistic contributions
Show a propensity knack for bringing out the best in others
In establishing this scholarship, we want to concretely show our appreciation for LHS itself—the place where we all grew and learned together. The inclusion of “Imagine” in the scholarship name, incorporates our wish to highlight the sentiment Gary exemplified of leaning toward a world where “we all live as one” as advocated by John Lennon’s song by that name, released during our time at LHS.
If you are as excited as we are to create this legacy for the Class of ‘73, we urge you to consider donating here. As part of our Reunion festivities, we plan a Silent Auction to further support the scholarship fund. Stay tuned for more information about the Reunion and the Silent Auction.
Speaking of our Reunion, it’s only 4 ½ months away! We really hope you can join us on Sept 29, 30 and Oct 1 this year. If you have not done so already, please click the orange "Register Your Interest" button at the top to let us know.
– Les Laputz,
LHS Class of '73 Reunion 2023 Organizer
Q: How much or how big of a scholarship will we give this year? What's the fundraising goal?
A: Our goal is to give $1000 this year. Long term, we hope to create a fund large enough so that the interest it generates will provide for the award each year.
Q: Will this scholarship go on forever? Who is going to manage it after we're all dead?
A: The goal is to create a living trust that will manage the fund. We will appoint trustees to manage the trust. Initially, these trustees will be classmates. As we ‘age out’, successor trustees will be appointed which may be LHS itself.
Q: How do I donate? What is the donation deadline for us to be able to give a scholarship this year?
A: Follow this link.
Q: Is donating tax deductible?
A: No. We are working on a tax-attractive vehicle. Donors can only deduct contributions made to tax-exempt scholarship funds. Donors are responsible for ensuring that the scholarship fund has applied for and received tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service before deducting contributions.
Q: Is Gary's family involved in this scholarship?
A: Not directly. Gary’s family has been invited to participate in the awards ceremony each June.
Q: How does this relate to the scholarship Gary's mom used to award?
A: That scholarship is no longer given. This is a new scholarship sponsored by the LHS Class of 1973. We applaud her for continuing Gary’s memory for many years.
Q: Who decides what student gets the award? What assurance do we have of a fair selection process?
A: Our class has determined a general selection criteria based on those qualities that Gary so embodied. The actual selection is determined by the LHS administration using on our criteria.
Q: Others in our class have also passed away — is it right to honor just Gary?
A: We will be honoring all classmates who have passed away at the Reunion. In the spirit of creating a scholarship to a graduating senior, though, we had to create and submit selection criteria for the school to follow so they can choose the best recipient who embodies our vision of the “Imagine” Scholarship. Gary fit that criteria. He not only embodied all the attributes, but also had so many more.
Q: Is supporting the scholarship and its fundraising a requisite for attending the reunion?
A: No. The scholarship and all of its fundraising is entirely voluntary and we would love to have everyone attend regardless of their participation. At the last reunion, there was also a Silent Auction and its proceeds were donated to the LEAF organization. We conducted a poll on our Facebook class page and those who responded were all in favor of creating our own LHS Class of 73 scholarship and so we’ve moved forward on that effort.
Q: When will the scholarship be awarded?
A: The award will be given each June at the LHS Senior awards ceremony. This year it was on June 6, 2023.
Q: How much are you wanting to raise for this year’s Scholarship?
A: Our goal was to raise $5,000 to fund the scholarship for this year and the next 4 years until our next reunion in 2028. We exceeded that number very quickly.
Q. How will the money get raised?
A. We are open to all ideas. Right now we are looking for donations both from within and outside of the class. We set up a GoFundMe campaign.
In addition, we will be holding a Silent Auction at our Reunion. Our intention is to continue fundraising efforts to ensure a Ledyard High School graduate will receive financial help from the Class of ‘73 as part of our giving back to the school and the community. If you have other ideas about fundraising or anything you would like to donate to our upcoming Silent Auction, please let us know.
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