CHSSF awards scholarships to 129 students this year – Essex News Daily – Essex News Daily | Candle Made Easy

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MAPLEWOOD/SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — This year, the Columbia High School Scholarship Fund awarded $248,710 to 129 Columbia High School students. The average prize amount was nearly $2,000.

“People have been very generous during the pandemic. We could not exist without our sponsors and donors who give us money every year, especially our local organizations like the Maplewood Woman’s Club, the Garden Club, the Rotary Club and our very dedicated reunion classes,” said CHSSF President Madeline Tugentman News record. Tugentman has been president since 2019 and has served on the fund’s board for 12 years.

The CHSSF was founded in 1923 by the Columbia High School Home and School Association to help Columbia graduates who need financial assistance for their post-secondary education. To ensure that the CHSSF would last for many generations, a foundation was established in the early 1930s by CHS teacher Ida Grace Alexander and her family. Nearly 100 years later, CHSSF is the largest provider of need-based scholarships in South Orange and Maplewood.

Since its inception, the CHSSF has awarded nearly $2 million in scholarships to approximately 1,600 students.

CHSSF scholarships can be used for any post-high school study including trade schools, community colleges and universities. Some students have reapplied for several years and even used funds towards their studies. Applicants must have been a CHS student or graduate. Many of the fund’s awardees are the first in their families to enroll in any form of post-high school education.

“What always impresses me is the people who have no connection to these students but support them because they just want to help,” Tugentman said. “They know education is important, and they are people in our community, alumni, who simply want to help Columbia students succeed in their lives through the foundation of study and education.”

Avery S. is currently using her grant from the Fund to complete an Art History major with a dual minor in Organic Chemistry and Archeology at Rutgers University.

“The CHS Scholarship Fund allows me to take some of the financial stress out of school so I can use my savings for other opportunities. This summer I was able to travel to Italy for a field school in ceramic art restoration,” she told the News-Record. “By doing so, I advanced my career in conservation and met my requirements for an archeology degree. I am so grateful for this scholarship as it has kept me connected to the CHS community while advancing my academic goals.”

Dylan J., who is using his CHSSF scholarship to pursue an Industrial Engineering degree at Rutgers University – New Brunswick School of Engineering, explained how the scholarship has given him the freedom to pursue extracurricular activities instead of worrying about finances to complete his studies.

“This scholarship gave me the opportunity to socialize with my fellow students and opened the door to the internship I am currently in; I’m a sales and operations intern at Ryder,” he told News-Record. “I was also the manager of the DI basketball team for the first two years, and now I’m the president of the club team. Although I sustained a serious injury at the end of last semester and will not be able to play in the upcoming club basketball season, I am really looking forward to coaching and improving the program in any way I can. This scholarship has given me so many opportunities and there are many more to come. I am forever grateful to the donors of the Columbia High School Scholarship Fund for their consistent consideration.”

CHSSF volunteers work with the CHS Advisory Team to reach out to eligible students and spend days on campus distributing applications and answering questions from students and parents. Before the pandemic, students had the opportunity to meet their donors at a scholarship reception in late spring each year. Tugentman hopes that will become a reality again in 2023, along with the fund’s annual Red & Black Cocktail fundraiser, which has also been canceled for several years due to COVID-19. She hopes that in the fall of 2023, the entire Maplewood and South Orange community can come together to celebrate 100 years of CHSSF and provide scholarships to students from the area. For more information visit

Photos courtesy of Madeline Tugentman