Deadline for senior applications Feb. 24

By Sarah Gianelli EBS Associate Editor

BIG SKY – This year, the Big Sky community collectively donated a total of $45,000 to the Friends of Big Sky Education to create 28 scholarships for the 17 seniors in the 2017 graduating class of Lone Peak High School. Donors included 100 individuals, eight businesses, four foundations and four organizations.

This figure marks a nearly 45 percent increase in funds raised from the previous year, indicating a steadily increasing investment in BSSD students that parallels the district’s increasing enrollment and graduating class size, which is up from eight in 2016, and is projected at 23 for 2018.

“We’re super excited because this [scholarship program] started from nothing four years ago,” said Loren Bough, chair of the Big Sky School District Board and president of FOBSE. “Our community has generated a real sense of pride in the school and the outcome of our students. Now people can see we’re the third highest test scorers in the state and [students are] getting accepted into the Air Force Academy, Ivy League [schools] and other prestigious colleges and universities throughout the country.”

Bough hands the credit to BSSD board member Whitney Littman, and FOBSE members Jerry and Anne Marie Mistretta, who canvased the community to encourage donors. The Mistrettas started the scholarship initiative three years ago in honor of the memory of their late son.

“What we try to do is help people to understand why it’s important to support students going to college and why it’s important for their business or organization to support it. It’s a very personal approach,” said Ann Marie, who serves as vice president and secretary on the FOBSE board and was formerly Big Sky School District superintendent.

Individual donor Kristin Kearn created a scholarship in the name of her late uncle Chet Huntley, founder of Big Sky Resort, which reflects his passion for the environment and conservation. “To be able to have a personal impact and offer a student a scholarship, I didn’t even know I could do that, so I decided to jump right in,” Kearn said.

The 2017 scholarships range from $500 to $5,000, and students can be awarded more than one. Last year, one student garnered as much as $6,700 in funding. If the right student match is not found for a particular scholarship, it will roll over to the following year.

“We are really grateful that the community of Big Sky shows so much support for our students as they embark on the next journey of their lives,” said Big Sky School District Superintendent Dustin Shipman. “I am constantly amazed, not only at the level of student we have here, but also the immense contributions of the community.” 

FOBSE scholarships are for Lone Peak High School seniors only and the deadline to apply is Friday, Feb. 24. Scholarships will be awarded during graduation ceremony. For a complete breakdown of scholarships available, visit friendsofbigskyeducation.org.