GROTON -- A nearly 100-year tradition of awarding scholarships to graduating students has been a way for the Groton Woman's Club to stay connected with the younger generation and "enjoy the community spirit."
"There are so many of them (in the club) who want to help young people," said Susan Slade, co-chairman of the committee that awards the scholarships. "We see them as the future."
Students who live in Groton and will graduate from Groton-Dunstable Regional High School, Nashoba Valley Technical High School, or the Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School in the spring are eligible for the $2,000 scholarship. Four are awarded each year.
The club, which has up to 100 members, focuses on community service and philanthropic work. Awarding the scholarship is part of that mission.
The scholarship has been around since at least 1926. Slade thinks that its origin can be traced back earlier.
In preparation for the club's 100th anniversary in 2013, she reviewed old meeting minutes and records to learn more about the club's history. Slade found a treasury report that mentioned the club awarded a high school student $250 for writing an essay in 1919.
Slade plans to review more club records to see if there is a link between that essay award and the scholarship.
To apply for the current scholarship, students must submit an application packet with their school transcript, description about activities and community service, their financial need, and other information.
Typically, the committee receives about 20 applications a year, Slade said. The nine members gather at her house in May to decide who to award the scholarship to.
She likes to see applicants that have heart. Many who have applied for the scholarship have done fantastic things like working at a summer camp for disabled students or teaching Sunday school.
"That shows a kind of humanity you can't write on paper," Slade said.
To raise money for the scholarship, the club hosts a greens sale during the winter season. During the most recent one in December, members sold wreaths and holiday decorations.
Over the years, the club hosted afternoon tea, an ice cream social, rummage sale, and an antique show to raise money for the scholarship. Those events tended to raise enough for one $2,000 scholarship, Slade said.
The club offers other scholarships for graduating students.
There is a Nashoba Valley Tech scholarship. The club also administers two memorial scholarships: the Anderson scholarship for a student interested in the medical field and the Pat Hallet scholarship interested in teaching.