Foundation Announces Scholarship for Public Service
The Harrisonville Public School Foundation announces a new scholarship for Harrisonville High School seniors pursuing college degrees in public service or governance. The $1,000 scholarship — named The Weaver and Young Families Memorial Scholarship Award in Public Service and Governance — will be awarded each year to a senior who demonstrates citizenship, leadership, and commitment to the community. The scholarship honors the memory of two HHS graduates, and their husbands, whose lives demonstrated those ideals of service and citizenship.
The Weaver and Young families established the scholarship through an endowment with the Foundation. The Foundation will name the scholarship’s first recipient at the 2021 Senior Excellence in Academics Ceremony.
Candidates must have a 3.6 GPA; provide two to three letters of recommendation’ and write an essay to explain the importance of public service and good governance, describe a current challenge, share an example of positive impact, profile a public servant’s career, or summarize his or her own public service or governance goals. Students planning to earn a two- or four-year degree may apply. Examples of public service or governance fields of study include public safety, health care, education, social services, nonprofit work, and political science. Access scholarship information and the application on the Foundation website at www.harrisonvilleschools.org/foundation. Applications are due April 9.
How the Scholarship Originated
Two best friends from Harrisonville High, and their husbands, lived as examples of the sense of service this scholarship intends to support. Eldine Atkinson Weaver and Virginia Gwathmey Young seemed inseparable from childhood, and by the time they entered HHS, they had a connection that lasted all their lives. Their loved ones say it sometimes seems to endure beyond. This scholarship seeks to help make that influence a reality for others.
Eldine Bernard was born in Kansas City, Kansas, and adopted by her great-uncle in Harrisonville, John Franklin Atkinson, after her mother died in the influenza epidemic of 1918. She graduated Harrisonville High School in 1934 and attended Central Missouri State College in Warrensburg. Eldine began managing the A.C. Mercantile Co. on the courthouse square when Atkinson retired.
Eldine was active in several Cass County service organizations, including the library board, historical society, Red Cross, National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, The Order of the Eastern Star, and DAR. After retiring from the A.C., she served as theShamrock Hills Golf Club’s board president and as site director for the Mid-America Regional Council Senior Citizens Nutrition Program Eldine also drove the delivery van for Meals on Wheels and led the altar guild at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church.
Eldine’s husband, James Earl Weaver, a valedictorian of Archie High School and noted local athlete, joined her in running the store after he returned from combat in the Pacific with the Marine Corps in World War II. Jim Weaver and his friends built the municipal golf course for Harrisonville after their return. Jim took part with the American Legion and the VFW in other service projects for Harrisonville, and he served as senior warden of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. Jim later designed and built Shamrock Hills Golf Course in Lee’s Summit.
Virginia Gwathmey was born in Webb City and graduated from Harrisonville High School and Stephens College. Her father owned the Gwathmey Foundry in Harrisonville, one of the largest metal fabrication facilities of its kind. Virginia worked in New York City for companies that became the Associated Press and served there as assistant to the first stenographic court reporter for the state of New York.
In 1943, Virginia became one of the first women to serve as a commissioned officer in the United States Marine Corps. On duty in Arlington, Virginia, she met and married another young Marine officer, Jack Young. Virginia continued her studies after World War II and received a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s in public administration from George Washington University.
Virginia served as deputy county executive and acting county executive of Prince William County, Virginia, during the county’s explosive growth as a suburb of Washington, D.C. Prior to those positions, Virginia worked in the planning department of the city of Alexandria. The preservation of historic Old Town Alexandria is a lasting legacy of her work. Virginia was considered an expert in local land use and zoning. As a volunteer, she served as president of the Virginia chapter of the League of Women Voters, and she was active in the pastoral care ministry of The Falls Church (Episcopal).
Virginia’s husband, Jack Young, served as director of management analysis for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration during its early years and America’s first voyages into space. He was loaned to the Peace Corps at the inception of that program, and he served as the organization’s first associate director for management. Then, he returned to NASA as deputy director.
Jack’s previous administrative service included the Office of Defense Mobilization, Executive Office of the President; the Civil Defense Administration; the National Security Resources Board; the President’s Task Force on Cost Reduction; a series of positions with the Bureau of the Budget; the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare; and the Department of Energy.
Jack received a doctoral degree in public administration from American University, and after leaving government service, Dr. Young worked as a professor in American University’s School of Public Affairs. He published extensively on executive and financial management.
The Examples They Set
Eldine Weaver and Virginia Young’s accomplishments and qualifications might seem normal today. In their time, however, such careers were less accessible to women, and in that sense, these women were extraordinary. Including people from all walks of life in public service is one goal of the scholarship established in their names.
What was normal in their generation was the sense of service we see in their careers and their husbands’ careers. Supporting that sense of service in our own time, raising the priority of citizenship — with the awareness and responsibilities that citizenship demands — is another goal of the scholarship.
About the Foundation
The Harrisonville Public School Foundation is a nonprofit organization with a mission to support and enhance all educational programs and activities of the Harrisonville School District. The Foundation’s programming includes teacher grants, district grants, advanced degree teacher reimbursement, scholarships, the Excellence in Academics program, and the HHS Distinguished Wall of Fame.
The Foundation manages 13 endowments established by families in memory of loved ones. These endowments yield nearly $27,000 in annual scholarships for seniors and $2,000 in annual teacher grants.
For more information on the Foundation and supporting students and teachers, contact executive director Jill Filer at (816) 380-2727, ext. 1224 or firstname.lastname@example.org.