The Kearns High School Class of ‘73 has raised thousands of dollars for some very unique ‘scholarships’Nov 07, 2023 03:43PM ● By Carl Fauver
Nearly 200 members of the Kearns High School Class of 1973 attended their 50th reunion this year. They have raised thousands of dollars for some current students to enjoy a unique educational opportunity. (Jack Lucas)
For most of us old enough to recall, the summer of 1973 will forever be remembered as the season of televised Watergate hearings. Back in the only-three-channels days – with all the networks tracking the travails of President Richard Nixon – we missed a lot of soap operas and game shows that summer. Where were ESPN and HBO when we needed them?
However, Kearns High School Head Cheerleader Jack Lucas and his several hundred Cougar classmates recall that summer a half-century ago, for much more than John Ehrlichman, G. Gordon Liddy and John Dean. That was their first season as KHS graduates.
“We were a pretty tight class and have had regular reunions since then, every five or 10 years,” Lucas said. “I was on the reunion committee this year. Since it was our 50th, I thought we should do something special. I guess it was my original idea to create a class legacy scholarship. But the entire committee discussed the details as we put our plan together.”
The result of their brainstorming can be seen at kearnshighalumnischolarship.org, a very professional-looking website created by Lucas, to encourage his classmates (and anyone else) to donate to a unique kind of “scholarship.”
As explained on the website’s front page, the purpose of this new scholarship is to “provide graduating students of Kearns High with a life changing experience that creates an ongoing commitment to serve both their local and international community.”
In other words, Lucas says this “scholarship” is not intended to defray costs at the U or BYU. Instead, it will acquaint students with the world of public service and volunteerism.
“As we began discussing our 50th reunion, I thought we should come up with something that would be beneficial and be longer lasting – something that would go beyond our lifetime,” Lucas explained. “We’re getting older. About 120 of my classmates have already passed away. I suggested we do something through an organization I discovered several years ago: Eagle Condor Humanitarian.”
This one-of-a-kind, Salt Lake-based nonprofit “embraces a holistic and collaborative approach to alleviating poverty. (It) helps to grow (people’s) scope of choices, foster self-reliance and reduce poverty. For each life touched, there is potential for a better future.” (eaglecondor.org)
According to Eagle Condor Expedition Coordinator Missy Webster, her organization accomplishes these altruistic goals by sending groups from Utah out into the world – to places and people who need help the most.
“In 2022, Eagle Condor led 13 humanitarian expeditions involving 649 volunteers,” Webster explained. “We took our teams to Peru, Ecuador and Colombia. We also recently added Mexico – and this year we are adding the Dominican Republic. Our teams have built schools and community centers. They have completed water projects and installed bathrooms – many different things.”
Volunteers on the Eagle Condor trips must pay part of the cost themselves. That’s where the Kearns High School Class of ‘73 enters the picture.
“Jack Lucas reached out to us a few months ago to discuss his scholarship idea,” Webster continued. “Having a group like his high school class do something like this is very unique – an amazing gesture. Our experience has been, younger people seem to understand the value of humanitarian work. But having an older generation like this class recognize the value of what we do for needy people in other countries is quite unusual and wonderful.”
The cost for volunteers to participate in these eight-to-10-day humanitarian trips is $2,100. This includes meals and lodging, not in tents, but in homes or other structures, with bathrooms and showers. Airfare to and from the far-flung sites is not included. Lucas and his classmates estimate the amount they need to raise for each scholarship recipient is closer to $2,500.
“Our reunion committee set a goal to raise $2,500 for a single student to participate in an Eagle Condor tour next summer after they graduate,” Lucas said. “But our fundraising has gone so well, we are now trying to reach $5,000, so two Kearns High School graduates can make the trip together.”
Donations generated simply through word-of-mouth got the fundraising ball rolling. Then, as their reunion drew closer, the KHS Class of ‘73 began hosting specific fundraising events to raise the total even more.
“The weekend before our reunion we hosted a benefit concert which raised $490,” Lucas explained. “A 1993 Kearns High School graduate, Michael Harris, played keyboard and sang. He’s been blind since birth. He donated his normal performance fee to the scholarship fundraiser. It was great.”
The following week – the day before the actual class reunion – organizers also hosted a fundraising golf tournament, raising another $300.
The next evening, the KHS Class of 1973 reunion was held inside the old school and attended by 188 class members – up from the 166 who had attended the 40th anniversary a decade earlier.
“Our most successful fundraiser came that night with a silent auction,” Lucas said. “The Utah Grizzlies donated use of a (Maverik Center) suite for one of their hockey games. That and several other donated items helped raise $860 through the auction.”
When not raising scholarship money or organizing class reunions, Lucas also operates a world-class fly-fishing river guide business out of Dutch John, Utah, near Flaming Gorge Dam and the Green River. Perhaps not surprising, his business – Western Rivers Flyfisher Guides (wrfguides.com) – also donated a trip for the silent auction.
“After all the fundraisers – and with the money we’d collected before those events – we had raised $4,505,” Lucas said. “I am certain we’ll be able to pull together the $500 more we need to send two Kearns students on an Eagle Condor Humanitarian service trip next summer.”
As for subsequent years, Jack and his committee plan to meet with the organizers of future Kearns High School reunions to try to persuade them to hold similar fundraisers in future years to send one, two or perhaps more students on these trips.
“We hope this will become a Kearns High School alumni tradition for years to come,” Lucas concluded. “We want to teach these students – the next generation – to understand and appreciate the value of serving others.”
Current Kearns High School seniors are encouraged to visit kearnshighalumnischolarship.org to learn more about how to apply for these very unique “scholarships.” λ