MINNETRISTA — The Westonka District 277 Foundation awarded $110,000 in scholarships to Mound Westonka graduates this spring.

Five seniors were awarded the Colonel Brown Memorial Scholarship. They were: Grace Elling (University of Minnesota — Twin Cities) , Sarah Jenkins (Aveda Institute, Minneapolis), Lauren Lachenmayer (College of Biological Services — University of Minnesota), Leandra O’Connell (University of Wisconsin — Eau Claire) and Homesh (Navin) Thakurdial (Carlson School of Management — University of Minnesota).

The funds for these scholarships were made available by an endowment from Col. William Brown, a 1938 graduate of Mound High School. Brown was an active member of his high school class and went on to have a distinguished career in the military. He joined the U.S. Army in 1941 and served as a pilot in World War II and the Korean War.

Brown died on Sept. 30, 2015. In his will, he gifted $1.3 million to go to student scholarships. The Westonka District 277 Foundation was designated to oversee and award the funds. This was the second year the scholarships have been awarded.

Two other scholarships were awarded from an endowment to the Foundation from the estate of Bill Gillespie, a long time supporter of education and the Westonka District 277 Foundation. The recipients of these scholarships were Mara Gomez-Gonzalez (St. Catherine’s) and Ela Springer (Colorado School of Mines, Golden, Colorado).

Aside from its endowed scholarship program, each year the Westonka District 277 Foundation needs to raise funds to support its grant program to benefit all the students in Westonka Schools. In response to staff requests, the foundation grants funds annually for projects that enrich and enhance learning opportunities beyond what is covered by the district budget. The foundation’s website is Westonka277foundation.org.

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