Badger High School wants students to know that hard work can be rewarded.

That is why the Lake Geneva school has marked five years of its Bucky’s Scholarship Gala, a fundraising program to award scholarships to students who have achieved academic excellence.

Since the program began in 2013, the school has awarded $133,600 in scholarships to 166 students.

Julia Adams, a scholarship recipient who graduated from Badger in 2016, said receiving support through the scholarship program was a special moment for her.

“It really made me feel like the work I had done paid off,” she said. “People were really recognizing that I was working really hard.”

Now a biochemistry major at Lawrence University in Appleton, Adams said scholarships such as the Badger High School’s have allowed her to continue her education.

For Elke Ingersoll and Gen Reed, the chairmen of the Bucky’s Gala program, success stories like that of Julia Adams make the hard work of organizing the event worthwhile.

“I think it’s just so important to help students,” Ingersoll said. “I was a student who needed a lot of extra help with my continuing education, so I’m just very passionate about continuing education and helping people get there. If you put your head down and work hard, there is support out there.”

Gala

The gala began after a counselor at Badger mentioned that she previously worked at a school with a similar program.

From there, the idea became a reality under the supervision of Bob Kopydlowski, who was the principal at Badger at the time. Kopydlowski died in September 2016.

“He was passionate about figuring out how to get more money into students’ hands with continuing education,” Reed said.

Those who attend the gala, which is held at the Riviera, 812 Wrigley Drive, Lake Geneva, are treated to an evening of food provided by the Badger culinary class, as well as local entertainment.

Participants can also take part in raffles and auctions to raise money for the program.

The gala, held this September, generated money that will be awarded in scholarships next May.

Everett Black, a scholarship recipient who graduated in May 2017, was part of the culinary team that prepared the food for this year’s event.

“I was kind of there every step of the way,” Black said. “It isn’t just an anonymous check that I received.”

Black now attends the University of Chicago, where he is studying art history and creative writing.

In addition to the gala event, donations are accepted throughout the school year. School officials then gather in May to determine how many scholarships can be awarded to that year’s graduating seniors.

Academics

According to Ingersoll, any student with a grade-point average between 3.5 and 4.3 can complete a scholarship application.

“This is based strictly on academics,” she said.

Students who receive a scholarship can apply it toward a four-year or two-year college or university, or they can put it toward a technical school, Ingersoll continued.

With the rising costs of higher education, students who receive these funds definitely find use for it.

Adams said she wanted to go to Lawrence University since she was a sophomore in high school. But her family was concerned about how expensive the private school would be.

Getting the extra support from Bucky’s Gala gave Adams the opportunity to make her dream a reality.

“Without it,” she said, “there would really be no way.”

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Jen Gragg graduated from Lawrence University with a degree in English and from the University of Wisconsin Madison with a degree in Journalism. She covers county government, crime, the village of Williams Bay and the town of Lyons.