The Brillion News
The R.D. and Linda Peters Scholarship, known to most Brillion residents simply as the Peters Scholarship, has recently passed the $3 million mark in scholarships provided to Brillion High School graduates. This August, the R. D. and Linda Peters Foundation disbursed $151,417 in scholarship funds bringing the overall total in scholarship funds disbursed to $3,080,738.05. Following is a brief history of the scholarship along with some exciting news about an additional opportunity for students going forward.
Gaylord Unbehaun, former Brillion School District Superintendent and one of the authors of the original scholarship plan describes the scholarship inception in this way. “I had been advised by board member and an employee of the Brillion Works, Alan Volkmar, that perhaps ‘Butch Peters,’ then President of the Brillion Iron Works would be interested in sponsoring a scholarship plan for graduates of Brillion High School. I contacted Mr. Peters by phone and asked if I might meet with him to discuss such a plan. He indicated he would like to pursue the possibility and we set up a time to get together again. When I arrived in his office he had two to three other key people from his staff to listen to what I was thinking. At the time I told him I only had a broad concept of the idea and wondered about his interest in pursuing the proposal further. He was interested and asked me to return in a couple weeks with a more defined proposal.
“I returned to school and met with Dean Wallace, our current high school counselor and told him of my conversation with Mr. Peters and asked him to work with me to develop a proposal for a scholarship plan. Together we worked up a proposal for a very significant plan. We took it to Mr. Peters and his staff. They seemed much more excited about the proposal than we had expected and asked for some time to study it with the law firm that was handling his ‘Personal Endowment Fund.’ We were asked to wait for further information from them. In a week or so we were called to come back to meet with his staff and members of the law firm. After a few questions we were told they liked the proposal and that we should implement it and send an annual invoice including the names of the individuals who qualified with the cost per individual and the total cost for each semester. The basic qualification was to graduate in the upper 50% of their class. Other qualifications were also included pertaining to their enrollment in college and grade status while enrolled there.”
The scholarship plan, as Unbehaun states was very significant. The agreement was reached in the Spring of 1977 and the Class of 1977 was the first class eligible to receive benefits. The scholarship was unique in a number of ways. First of all, while most scholarships focus on one or the other, the Peters Scholarship was available to students attending technical colleges as well as those attending four year universities. Secondly, while most scholarships target one or maybe two of the most qualified students, Peters Scholarship funds were available to anyone in the top 50% of the graduating class. Third, the scholarship had three tiers of scholarship payouts depending on the student’s grade point average while in college. The GPA cut-offs have changed slightly over the years but the three tiers of payouts remain to this day. Currently, a student who achieves a 2.5-3.09 GPA receives the lowest tier of funding, a student with a GPA from 3.10 to 3.59 receives a larger scholarship and a student who achieves a 3.6 GPA or higher receives the largest scholarship. The last fairly unique characteristic of the scholarship is that qualifying Brillion graduates are eligible to receive scholarship payments for a full eight semesters.
To read the full story, pick up the Sept. 26, 2013 edition of The Brillion News.