Submitted photo from Amy DeVore
                                Photo of the sticker that will be passed around to students to spread the word about the Tahoma Strong Scholarship.

Submitted photo from Amy DeVore Photo of the sticker that will be passed around to students to spread the word about the Tahoma Strong Scholarship.

Not your typical scholarship for local students

Parents in Maple Valley came up with a scholarship that seniors can receive by impacting someone’s life in a positive way.

The phrase “Tahoma Strong” has been going around all over Maple Valley for the past few months. That phrase and the meaning of that phrase has turned into a scholarship for seniors at Tahoma High School.

According to Heather Maggio and Amy DeVore, Tahoma moms, they got together with other friends of theirs to start a scholarship for kids who stand up for one another and impact someone’s life in a meaningful way. Or, Heather also said the scholarship could be given to someone who has been impacted by someone else.

“One of our friends is involved with the PTSA scholarship committee and we had started (the idea) after the suicides and everything that was going on in the community, we wanted to bring awareness to it, but without it being about the suicides,” Heather explained. “We wanted it to be about the students that were helping people because there were a few people that had reached to Kylee prior and were wanting to give her some help, but didn’t know how to do that.”

Heather said when she and Amy spoke together as parents, they realized it was really difficult for students to reach out to kids who are in need. And when or if they did, it was really brave or strong of them to do and they should be recognized for what they did.

“For kids that are in high school, when it comes to their peers, they want to kind of stand behind the lines — ‘What’s everyone else doing? We want to recognize the one student that took a couple steps forward outside of their clan, ‘What did that represent? How did it look?’” Heather explained.

That’s when their friend came up with the name “Tahoma Strong,” Heather said.

After the idea of the scholarship was made, Heather and Amy went to the Tahoma High School Principal Terry Duty to tell them their idea and he was all for it, Heather and Amy said.

Heather said they even got one of the student counselors on board, too. They are willing to help them spread the idea around the school.

To spread the word about the scholarship to graduating seniors, Amy said they are going to be passing out stickers with a bear on it that say, “I am Tahoma Strong!” Along with, “#TahomaStrong Scholarship.”

“Right now we’re just working on the ‘who will hand those out?’ We want them (students) to know that if you see Tahoma Strong they think, ‘Oh that’s my school. Yeah we did that. We’re there for each other,’” Amy said.

To apply for the scholarship, Amy said they have a question that each student will answer as an essay question. She said the question will be something along the lines of “How has someone helped you? Or, “How have you helped?”

“It could be anything. That’s up to them. The committee will select one or two or depending on our fund, then we’ll select them and we’ll give them to them on that first week of June, the awards night where the scholarships are given,” Amy said.

An example of helping someone, according to Heather, would be if a student stood up to somebody being bullied. If they impacted the student who has been getting bullied in a positive way, they are eligible for the scholarship.

“It could be different for each one of the essay questions that we get. That’s what going to be really fun. To read about how these teenagers actually contribute where it’s not necessarily grade point average, it’s not necessarily for the jocks, it’s for those kids out there making a difference,” Heather said.

Students can even write about a time where they were helped or when they helped someone outside of the school, Heather said.

Funding for this scholarship is coming from donations and selling Tahoma Strong products, Amy said.

“We have three (donations) that we’ve received funds from so far and then we have a few others out there that have said, ‘because of the post you do did on the community page,’ they’re going to send in stuff,” Amy said.

The Tahoma Strong products will be sold at events outside school hours, Heather said.

The products include, a car decal, shirts, sweatshirts, a tumbler and a makeup/pencil bag, Amy said.

Heather said Amy has been the one in charge of making all of these items.

Amy said once an order is put in, she will make that item on request and then it will take about 7 to 10 business days for the person to receive their product.

The hope is to raise money up until June when the awards and scholarships will be announced, Heather explained.

That way they can raise as much money as they can because depending on how much money they raise will depend on our many students they pick for the scholarship.

To spread the word about donating or buying Tahoma Strong products, Heather said they have been posting to the Community of Maple Valley Facebook page, going door to door, setting up a Tahoma Strong stand at sporting events and by approaching local businesses with signs to display at their business.

Amy said students will be able to apply for the scholarship starting in January or February.

”I believe they will have to have them in by the end of February or the end of March. And then at that point the committee will get them, go over them and then in June it will be announced,” Amy explained.

The committee she is referring to are the founding parents of Tahoma Strong.

These committee members will be the ones who decide on which student or students get the scholarship.

“There’s a committee of five of us. So we will read and read and read some more. They give (the essays) to us with no names on them, and they’re numbered. So we’ll go through them and come together and decide on however many and how many,” Amy said.

So far, in a matter of about a month, Amy said they have raised about $1,600.

The scholarship money can go to any school of the students choice — trade school, community college or four year college. Amy said it doesn’t matter.

“I want to make that every child who is eligible for this, every senior, takes advantage of it,” Amy said.

Heather continued with, “I want it for those who are really there for each other.. It’s important to recognize that.”

To learn more about prices for Tahoma Strong products, or to donate call 206-713-0204. Or email tahomastrongscholarship@gmail.com.

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Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in a neighborhood near you. You can read more of her writing on her website livingwithgleigh.com. To see her columns come to life, follow her on Facebook at Living with Gleigh by Gretchen Leigh.
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