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Spokane Scholars Foundation aims to honor students, even without a banquet

UPDATED: Thu., March 26, 2020

After winning the $4000 award for Fine Arts, Shadle Park student Brenden Archer receives a hug from his father Rob Archer, during the 27th Annual Spokane Scholars Foundation Banquet held, Mon., April 15, 2019, at the Spokane Convention Center. COLIN MULVANY The Spokesman-Review (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
After winning the $4000 award for Fine Arts, Shadle Park student Brenden Archer receives a hug from his father Rob Archer, during the 27th Annual Spokane Scholars Foundation Banquet held, Mon., April 15, 2019, at the Spokane Convention Center. COLIN MULVANY The Spokesman-Review (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Despite the cancellation of its annual banquet, the Spokane Scholars Foundation is determined to find creative ways to honor the region’s most accomplished high school seniors.

The banquet, scheduled for April 20 at the Spokane Convention Center, typically draws more than 800 people. However, it has been canceled because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

That doesn’t mean the students won’t be recognized.

On Thursday morning, foundation president Eric Johnson was on a conference call, “figuring out how we honor these students so they get what they deserve.”

“Each of these amazing scholars will experience a few moments in the limelight to celebrate their exceptional accomplishments,” Johnson said.

It’s time to get creative, said Johnson, who began with an alteration of the foundation motto, “Promote Life-Long Learning.”

“This year it’s going to be ‘Promote Flexible Life-Long Learning,’ ” Johnson said Thursday.

Plans are still in the works, but the foundation is considering several alternatives to honor the 156 scholars as well as the 24 Scholar Award recipients.

Depending on what happens with social-distancing restrictions, the scholars may be honored at their respective schools.

“We also could have an outdoor event,” Johnson said.

Little else has changed for an event that began 27 years ago.

Already, the 156 scholars have been listed on the foundation website, while judges are evaluating their accomplishments toward consideration for the $60,000 in awards given in the six academic categories of English, fine arts, mathematics, science, social science and world languages.

Awards of $1,000, $2,000, $3,000 and $4,000 given to the fourth-, third-, second- and first-ranked students in each category, respectively.

Meanwhile, all 14 participating universities have committed to match any scholar award for one year for recipients who enroll at that college.

Likewise, banquet sponsors have reaffirmed their financial support despite the cancellation.

“We asked them, ‘Are you OK with this?’ and they all said yes,” Johnson said.

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