Mr. Halverson, currently a resident of Kelso, Washington, has enjoyed a long and successful career. He worked in construction on the North Cascades Highway and the John Day Dam in the 1960s, with a three-year stint in the Army in between. By 1973, he had gone to work with the Longview Fiber Mill, and where he was in a leadership position as a supervisor from 1985 until he retired in 2002.
Looking back on his high school days, Mr. Halverson is fond of saying he was a “solid C and D student,” more into cars and girls than his studies. He firmly believes that if he could make something of himself, any kid can do the same and he has a soft spot in his heart in particular for students who have strong math and science tendencies, but who haven’t excelled in school just yet.
He contacted Superintendent Andrew Kelly last summer to discuss establishing a scholarship fund dedicated to Lyle’s students. Mr. Halverson said he’s hoping his gift will encourage other Lyle alumni to step up and invest in Lyle’s young people and challenges other “old-time grads” to contribute as well.
Many of Lyle’s students struggle with overwhelming, soul-crushing circumstances: poverty, severe family dysfunction, even homelessness. Others have more stable home lives but simply have no external motivation to apply for college, because they think they cannot afford it.
This is where Mr. Halverson’s donation plays a significant role. “With this gift, you’ve put hope within reach for our students who, while they could dream of college, couldn’t see a way to make it a reality,” Superintendent Kelly wrote to him.
The donation is being used to create a fund with the Gorge Community Foundation, where it will be invested and grow. Each year, the district will draw a portion of it to provide scholarships for those Lyle students who have dreams of a higher education.
Getting students to apply and get into a post-secondary education program is important; giving them the tools to be successful once there is equally important. One of the requirements for these students to qualify for a scholarship is to participate in the mentor-mentee group the district has recently formed.
“We know that the success of our students often depends on just one caring adult, and I’ve personally witnessed the magic that a strong mentoring program can make in the lives of youngsters,” Superintendent Kelly noted.
Staff and community members have stepped forward in sufficient numbers to mentor every member of the junior and senior classes. Engaging in the mentorship program will help ensure those students are prepared to be successful as they work their way toward a post-secondary education, while scholarships from this fund will ensure they have the means to attend.
The way the fund is structured ensures it will be sustainable and give generations of students support in achieving their dreams.
“You and I will not be here to see the difference it makes and the lives it transforms in the decades to come, but you can be proud knowing it will make that difference,” Superintendent Kelly said, adding, “Mr. Halverson, your gift is a blaze of light for these students. I cannot thank you enough.”
Do you want to meet Mr. Halverson’s challenge? It’s a great way to give a fellow Cougar a merry Christmas!
Anyone who wishes to donate to the fund should contact the Gorge Community Foundation at 509-250-3525, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Or contact the school at 509-365-2191 for more information or assistance.