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Young Scholars Honored $3,000 Awards Cap Off A Nearly Perfect Evening With Spokane Students

Thu., April 25, 1996

David Gosse proved a teenager doesn’t have to be perfect to receive the big money from the Spokane Scholars Foundation.

His 3.99 grade point average was the exception to the rule, however.

Five other $3,000 winners at the fourth-annual brainpower banquet Wednesday steamrollered through high school with straight-A’s.

The English winner scored a perfect 800 on the verbal portion of the Scholastic Assessment Test. The math winner had a flawless 800 score on the SAT’s math section.

Gosse’s grades aren’t perfect. Almost, but not quite. The 17-year-old science winner from Cheney High School received an A-minus in pre-calculus last year.

When he got the grade, he made no excuses. He told his teacher, “Don’t worry. I’ll work harder next quarter.”

It’s that kind of work ethic that Spokane attorney Louis Rukavina wanted to reward when he dreamed up Spokane Scholars four years ago.

Rukavina envisioned an academic counterpart to the Greater Spokane Sports Association awards banquet. He wanted to emphasize brains over brawn, bright over might.

The program works like this: The county’s public and private high schools nominate their best scholars in six subject areas. College professors and professionals judge the nominees based on scholarship alone, ignoring financial need or extracurricular activities.

Doctors and lawyers, foundations and businesses donate the money.

This year, the banquet’s keynote speaker was a symbol for brains and brawn: Alan Page, the Minnesota Vikings football star turned state Supreme Court justice.

Page challenged the crowd of 500 at the Spokane Ag Trade Center to volunteer as tutors.

“I’m not sure where children start to lose hope, but I have seen it happen,” he said. “I’ve seen that cloud of resignation travel across their eyes as they go through school without progress.”

Page resolved to give children the opportunity to learn in 1978 when he realized that five of his teammates couldn’t read the playbook.

Ten years later, he started the Page Foundation to award college scholarships to minority students in Minnesota. The foundation requires the winners to return to their communities to work as tutors and role models.

Concerned about the hopelessness that drives kids into gangs, Page warned that spending $5.1 billion annually on building prisons won’t solve the nation’s crime problem.

“Building more prisons to combat crime is a little like building cemeteries to combat AIDS,” he said.

Also receiving $3,000 scholarships in their academic areas were: Sarah Westergren of Mead High, English; Joy Crosby of North Central High, foreign language; Robert Dirks of Lewis and Clark High, math; Nicholas McCarthy of St. George’s School, social sciences; and Shayna Silverstein of Lewis and Clark High, fine arts.

The other 125 nominees received golden medallions and certificates.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo


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