Sometimes, all it takes to make a difference is to have an idea and some drive. Luckily, for high schoolers in his hometown of Grandview, Missouri, Rusty Mason has both in spades.
While high school reunions are a common tradition across the country, Grandview High School is unique in the fact that most of its graduating classes have kept in close contact over the years—going all the way back to the 1950’s.
The majority of Rusty’s “Class of 1974” has known each other since kindergarten, and he considers them extended family. So, eight years ago, when he was asked to take over as treasurer for their reunions, he didn’t hesitate to help.
While planning their 45-year reunion, they were inspired to raise money for a gift for the school’s upcoming graduating class. After reaching out to hundreds of classmates through letters, emails, and phone calls, they raised over $3,500 for a special scholarship they named “Grown in Grandview.”
Witnessing the overwhelming support of the scholarship idea, with faith that his class could deliver and the drive to make it happen, Rusty personally committed to two additional $500 scholarships for each year leading up to their 50-year reunion. To qualify for the Grown in Grandview scholarship, students must have a minimum GPA of 3.0; be a student of the Grandview school system for a minimum of seven years; be involved in school activities; and provide letters of recommendation and a personal essay, to name a few.
But that still wasn’t enough for this group of friends that wanted to give back to the small town that “built” them. Due to the overwhelming response in annual donations, the class is now saving up to ultimately create a working scholarship with the Grandview Education Foundation—a commitment that requires a minimum account balance of $20,000. With Rusty’s help soliciting, tracking, and maintaining the funds, they are well on their way.
“I was raised to always seek out ways to help others,” says Rusty. “People will notice what you are doing and do one of two things: thank you or pitch in. I’ve also found—through the creation of this scholarship—that great things can be accomplished by a large group of people if there is a small focal point to drive and encourage them. It’s really rewarding to see everything come together for the greater good of our school and community.”