Alumni scholarship helps Sabinal High graduates

The following information was submitted by Mary Riley Martell, Sabinal High School Class of 1960.

Over the last 100 years, more than 3,000 students have graduated from high school in Sabinal, a small town in Uvalde County in southwest Texas. About 120 grade 9-12 students currently attend the Class AA Sabinal High School, and the graduating seniors often lack the financial resources required to continue their education.

As a result, in 2013, SHS class of 1960 graduates decided to develop an annual program to solicit donations from SHS alumni to fund and award $1,000 scholarships to current SHS graduating seniors.

Sabinal Independent School District Superintendent Richard Grill and counselor Miranda Dvorak helped develop and administer the Sabinal alumni scholarship program.

Scholarship recipients are selected based on their academic record, community contributions, letters of recommendation, character and plans to attend an accredited college, university or trade school.

Dvorak supervises the application process and works with other school representatives to review the submitted applications, determine the scholarship recipients and recognize them at graduation. 

When the scholarship program sponsors realized there was not an existing roster of the SHS alumni, a daunting search was required to identify the members of each class from 1920 to the present.

Class annuals and records were found in libraries, closets, attics and other obscure areas. Old photographs, newspaper articles, letters, obituaries, emails, Facebook, Google, and people search software were used to create a roster for each class. Now, a password-protected database with the alumni names and contact information is available on the Sabinal independent school district website,

At the 2015 homecoming, SHS class of 1960 members Mary Riley Martell and Betty Kincaid Mathis presented the scholarship program to the attendees. They assured the alumni that the scholarship financial account is maintained and managed by the school administration and all donations, which are tax deductible, are sent directly to the school and acknowledged by the administration.

A report listing the current scholarship recipients, the scholarship fund financial status and fund donation requests is mailed or emailed annually to all alumni members.

Alumni donations have totaled more than $50,000 to date.

“In the last four years (inclusive) that I have been counselor, we will have awarded $29,000 in scholarships due to alumni generosity,” Dvorak recently said. “When one considers that there are 43 graduates this year, this means that nearly one quarter of the 2019 graduates will be awarded a Sabinal Alumni Scholarship.

“Students are honored to receive this award and the community is improved when we raise each other up. I have faith that these same students will one day contribute to the alumni association and support younger generations to come,” she continued. “Personally, I am overwhelmed at the generosity of the donors and know that many have been inspired by this example. For a community the size of Sabinal to be able to provide this sort of financial assistance is life changing and will certainly have an impact on the future of the community.”

The total list price for Texas colleges and universities for an academic year range greatly. Students depend on grants, scholarships, part-time jobs and personal or family resources to fund their education. Large student government loans can be devastating to a student’s future financial stability.

In 2018, Nadia Navarro, SHS valedictorian and a recipient of one of the $1,000 scholarships, said “Thank you so much for your generous contribution to my future. You are the reason that I am capable of going after all of my dreams. Your support means everything to me, and I will do everything in my power to make you and my hometown proud.”

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