In the spirit of statewide, budgetary belt-tightening, Del. Tom Bolvin (R-43rd) took his last pay increase and turned it into "Spirit of Virginia" scholarships, $1,000 each, awarded to Lee High School seniors Lindsey Neisch, Melinda Scott and Hayfield senior Kindra Washington this year.
Bolvin's 1999 decision took the form of a campaign promise last election.
"I thought that was not a good use of the money at the time," Bolvin said. "I'm proud and happy that this money's being used for a good purpose."
Lindsey, who just turned 17 and is graduating a year early, wasn't politically savvy but thought the gesture held merit. She's heading off to James Madison University in the fall.
"It's setting an example and helping open up opportunities for us," she said.
Kindra lives in Franconia and is heading off to Virginia Tech to study veterinary medicine. She found out about the scholarship while in a school assembly. "It was a surprise," she said.
This is Melinda Scott's second award in the last couple of weeks. She was also chosen as Miss Springfield in late May, an honor that not only included a crown but scholarship money. Melinda is pursuing politics at George Mason University in the fall.
"I thought it was a great thing to do as a leader," she said. "It is a very selfless act."
Hayfield principal Glynn Bates and Lee assistant principal David Johnson attended the ceremony at Hayfield Secondary on Thursday, June 12, at which Bolvin awarded the scholarships. He gave each a symbolic, oversized check; the actual funds will be presented in August.
"It doesn't happen that often," Bates said of Bolvin's sacrifice.
Bates did note that at Hayfield this year, there were $3.6 million in scholarships given away to graduating seniors.
"This year we had three West Point recipients," she added.
BOLVIN SERVES on the House Education Committee and stays involved with education as chairman of the Subcommittee on Teachers. His criteria for choosing the students were a combination of grade point average, SAT scores, extracurricular activities, community service, leadership and an essay from each student explaining how she felt about Operation Iraqi Freedom and what America's role should be in the world today.
"I like to give them to students that are well-rounded," Bolvin said.
Aside from maintaining a 4.0 average for the last two quarters, Kindra plans on working at a neighbor’s for the second summer in a row making military ceremonial banners from his house. The neighbor is only one of two people in the country authorized to make those banners. She also had two older sisters who graduated from Virginia Tech in recent years.
Melinda grew up in a foster home and is majoring in international politics at George Mason. In addition, she works at Bertucci's restaurant in Springfield. Lindsey works for a local brokerage firm.
The fact that each student worked as well as excelled in school impressed Bolvin. He received 12 applications for the scholarships, from all the high schools in the 43rd District, which included West Potomac, Edison, Lee and Hayfield.
"You are all very deserving of this award," Bolvin said. "It's pretty obvious you three ladies really did the boys in."