Scattered throughout the front office are statues, busts and even a lively action figure of Thomas Jefferson, all donated by the late Sarah Lahr. However, she didn’t show her passion for the school just through memorabilia. She also extended her scholarships. On June 4, Principal Evan Glazer received a $43,000 check to extend the poetry and essay scholarships of Sarah Lahr for the next 10 years.
“She left the endowment for more scholarships to provide students because she cared so deeply about our school,” Glazer said.
Lahr was inspired to encourage talented students after hearing a speech given by a speaker at the University of Nebraska in the 1940’s. In 2005, she began sponsoring poetry and essay scholarships based on prompts relating to the school as well as its namesake, Thomas Jefferson, hoping that students will be challenged to think in a creative way.
“Ms. Lahr had a great passion for the man, Thomas Jefferson, and how he had shaped the nation,” Glazer said. “She often got students to think about the mission of TJHSST and its connection to the nature of Thomas Jefferson and his influence.”
The poetry scholarship is only granted to freshmen and seniors, allowing them to express thoughts through the prompt, “What my TJ experiences means to me.” The award is $1,000 each for the freshman and senior whose poems got picked by a panel of judges. The money awarded would go towards the students’ colleges of their choice.
On the other hand, the essay scholarship is open to all grades, allowing students to write about the life and accomplishments of Thomas Jefferson through the prompt topic, “Thomas Jefferson: The American Visionary.” The awarded student would receive $2,000, also going towards the college of his or her choice.
Counselor Andrea Smith found the essay scholarship, in particular, to be valuable for students, since sophomores and juniors are also able to participate.
“It gives the underclassmen an opportunity to use their humanities skills to obtain scholarships for their education,” she said.
With these opportunities, students feel challenged and innovated to reflect upon the environment they work in. Sophomore June Ge, who won the poetry scholarship last year as a freshman, is able to appreciate Sarah Lahr’s dedication.
“The scholarship gave me a chance to look at my TJ experience in a different way,” she said. “It allowed me to better understand how I felt about my school and my place in it.”