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High school grads collect on fourth-grade promise

July 14, 2005|by TONY BUDNY

WASHINGTON COUNTY

anthonyb@herald-mail.com

Woody Spong, former principal of Salem Avenue Elementary School, had an idea eight years ago. The school's fourth-grade class was about to move on to middle school in another building, and Spong wanted to make an impact on the departing students. He contacted local businesses in the Hagerstown area to see if they wanted to help.

One of the business owners he called was Don Hoffman, of Hoffman's Meat Market in Hagerstown. Hoffman said he has always been open about his desire to help students get an education and he agreed to sponsor four scholarships which, eventually, could only be sought by the fourth-grade students.

"Education is one of the gifts you can give children that no one can take," Hoffman said.

During the school's recognition day in 1997, parents were told scholarships would be available in 2005 to four of the departing fourth-graders, Hoffman said.

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Hoffman set up three $400 scholarships and one $300 scholarship, and only students from the school's 1997 fourth-grade class could apply. Qualifying students had to maintain high grade-point averages through high school.

The four winners were announced in May.

Ariel Kifer, 18, and Lindsey Grove, 18, both of Hagerstown, and Sasha Dunn, 17, of Clear Spring, were each awarded $400. A $300 scholarship was awarded to Tiffany Vinson, 18, of Hagerstown.

Kifer graduated from North Hagerstown High School and plans to attend Indiana University of Pennsylvania and major in elementary education.

Grove also graduated from North Hagerstown High School and plans to attend Bridgewater (Va.) College to pursue a degree in psychology or math.

Dunn graduated from Clear Spring High School and plans to attend Mount St. Mary's University in Emmitsburg, Md., and major in sociology with a minor in pre-law.

Vinson graduated from North Hagerstown High School and plans to attend Hagerstown Community College to pursue psychology or accounting.

The four said they were good friends in elementary school. Grove, Kifer and Vinson have maintained contact but Dunn, who later moved to Clear Spring, had not seen the others until the day they accepted the awards.

"Everybody knew everyone here. It was a small school and we were really close," Grove said

Kifer said she might want to return to the school as a teacher.

"It was a good school. I had a lot of good memories here," she said.

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