40 years after graduation, SM East class of ’72 still giving back

John Freeman, class of 1972, has been one of the organizers of the scholarship program.

Forty years after they graduated from Shawnee Mission East High School, the class of 1972 keeps giving back to the school and today’s graduates.

For more than a dozen years the class has maintained a scholarship fund to help get a graduating senior started in life – where ever that life may take them. Whether their destination is college, military, vocational school or starting out in business, those are all worthy goals and acceptable uses for the money that the class awards to give them a hand in achieving their goals.

Unlike many scholarships that come with strings attached, the Class of ’72 hands over a check so the student can use the money to get started in the way that serves them best – from that first set of college textbooks to a car payment to get to the first full-time job.

The award is for $614 or more. The 614 represents the number of graduates in the class of ’72, according to John Freeman, one of the scholarship organizers from the class.

Students fill out an application telling why they need the money and how they plan to use it. “Those kids are sharp,” Freeman said, when you read the applications.

The class just had its 40th reunion this fall, a three-day event that drew nearly 200 classmates and included a grade school reunion as well.

The scholarship, which has had more than one recipient in some years, requires a 2.0 grade average. At the kickoff of the idea, the class raised more than $15,000 almost overnight to fund the scholarships, Freeman said. And they still contribute all these years later.