By Jack Mariano
Outgoing Assistant Principal /Athletic Director / Honors English teacher Jamie Bankert addressed the Octorara School Directors at their recent meeting regarding the recent Lenfest Community Scholarship Weekend held at Lancaster’s Franklin and Marshall College on the weekend of June 13th and 14th. Every student that has received this scholarship since its inception is invited to this event. H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest is listed in Wikipedia as a media entrepreneur and philanthropist He and his wife Marguerite B. Lenfest have played active roles in The Lenfest Group and Suburban Cable TV Co., Inc. She serves on the board of several cultural institutions including the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Lenfest has garnered around seven billion dollars in the telecommunications industry.
Originally, eight schools were selected to be a part of the Lenfest scholarship group that began in 2004. Two years later in 2006, two more schools were added to this group including Octorara largely due to the promotion of the school by Mr. Bankert and Superintendent Dr. Thomas Newcome. In the years prior to 2006, Octorara students who had equivalent scores to top students in the Lenfest program were not considered due to the institution’s “low profile”. Eventually, the quality of the local students who qualified and participated in this program raised the attention of those administers and the school’s “low profile” rose, as well. Over 24 students from the Octorara School District have been granted this scholarship over these eleven years totaling $1.2 million dollars in scholarship money for the “red and blue”. In fact, Octorara has had more winners of this scholarship than any of the others that are considered, a great thing for certain. According to Bankert, the Dean of Columbia University joked that Octorara has seen “far too many” students qualify for this prestigious scholarship gaining entrance into the country’s’ top colleges. Along with about $18,000.00 per year per student, winners also have the backing and promotion of the prestigious “Lobby Board” who accesses the top colleges in the United States. “Our scholars have gone to the best schools” in the country. This year, sixteen of the twenty four former Octorara students that have received this scholarship attended the weekend event. Some were out of the country. A few of the most recent alumni of our school were Rose Imms, class of 2008 a recent Harvard graduate and Dan Solomon who is attending Princeton University thanks to the Lenfest Scholarship. As Bankert was one of the keynote speakers at this gathering, he was proud to introduce the Octorara “contingent” who stood up from the audience. This prompted the former Octorara quarterback Solomon to remark that he has never been prouder that that moment seeing all of the Octorara students in that room.