There will be one more Nicol Scholar this year, thanks to Petrolia Town Council.
Town officials have found $10,000 in savings to help bolster the prestigious program at LCCVI.
For the past 28 years, the town has been receiving $20,000 from the same fund which provides $10,000 US scholarships for worthy graduates. The fund was set up by former Petrolia resident Harold Robert Nicol who spent much of his adult life in the States but wanted to give back to his hometown.
Under the plan, the town receives $10,000 for upkeep of Victoria Hall and another $10,000 for the upkeep of the Petrolia Library which is now named after the family. Over the life of the scholarship, the town has received about $500,000.
Recently the fund has fallen on hard times. Mayor John McCharles, who is part of the committee which awards the bursary, says this year “a lot fewer recipients this year than in the past years.”
In 2014, there were six scholars. There have been as many as 25 students receive scholarships from the interest from the fund.
McCharles asked council to consider giving up this year’s cash to bolster the number of scholarships available. Staff found $10,000 to allow the town’s portion of the fund to be given to a student. “So there will be one more scholarship this year and then we’ll look at next year, next year,” says McCharles.
Councillor Tim Brown was pleased the town would be able to ensure another student would be helped. He says students come to LCCVI knowing about the Nicol Scholarship and work hard for four years to be able to obtain it. “This age group never anticipated this and that’s hard to watch.”
Councillor Joel Field agreed. “It’s a shame to see the numbers dwindle.”
But McCharles is hopeful things can be turned around. He says the trustees of the fund have been given some ideas to help improve the finances including looking for donations from former recipients.
Councillor Mary-Pat Gleeson says Nicol Scholars have been “asked politely” to contribute before, but none came forward. She hopes to be part of a “more formal” campaign to solicit funds from past winners so the scholarships which reward strong academics and community service continue.
“This school ranks as one of the top schools year after year and I’m sure this is part of the reason,” she says.
The scholarships will be given out at the end of June.