Class of '66 Memorial Scholarship
The Class of ’66 Memorial Scholarship is for Scottsbluff High School graduating seniors
Applications will be reviewed annually for the Class of ’66 Memorial Scholarship. A $500 scholarship will be given annually to a Scottsbluff High School graduating senior who is an outstanding band student. Application forms are available at the Scottsbluff High School Counseling Office or from the band director.
Deadline for application and supporting documents is February 15th. Recipients will be announced in May.
To qualify for the Class of ‘66 Memorial Scholarship, students must:
- Be enrolled full-time at an accredited college, university or vocational or technical school
- Carry a minimum of 12 hours
The $1,000 scholarship is paid directly to the school ($500 per semester).
The scholarship will be rescinded and awarded to the alternate if the recipient does not enroll as a full-time student for the first semester for which the scholarship is awarded.
Submit completed application to:
Attn: Guidance Counselor
Scottsbluff High School
From the Star-Herald, May 5, 2017, by Maunette Loecks
Inspired by a Star-Herald column, the SHS class of 1966 will memorialize Steve Mays and John McKibbin, who were killed in an accident on Dec. 15, 1965. Mays was 17 at the time of the crash and John, known as Johnny, was 15. They died at the scene of the crash.
According to a Dec. 15, 2015, column from former Star-Herald editor Bart Schaneman, the two Scottsbluff teenagers died when the flatbed truck they were riding on collided with a train on Country Club Road. The vehicle had been driven by their band instructor, Ronald Becker. The two boys, and four others, were going to the country club to set up chairs and instruments to prepare for a band performance. The four other boys — Dennis Grasmick, Bill Selby, Ed Peterson and Leroy Koch, were injured. The instructor was also injured.
Jane Wisniewski, a classmate of McKibbin and Mays, said that the column touched her. “The column brought it back to our consciousness,” she said. “When I read the column, I was so moved. I read about his sister being so disappointed that nothing had been done (to pay tribute to her brother). It really spoke to me.”
More than 50 years ago, she said, people had a “post-war mentality.” “Back in the day, when this happened, it was still that mentality, ‘Suck it up, move on.’ There had not been a lot of tragedies with young people. We just went back to school and went on.”
For those family members of McKibbin, Mays, Becker, the band instructor, and the other four boys injured, it changed their lives forever, Wisniewski said.
In July 2016, she said, the Class of 1966 had its 50th reunion. Wisniewski said it was the opportune time for the class to do something to remember McKibbin, Mays and the rest of the accident’s victims. She spoke at the reunion.
“I told them ‘I think we need to do something,’” she said. “At that point in time, we did not know what we were going to do. But, after I sat down, people just started giving me money.”
The class started raising money and Wisniewski worked with Scottsbluff Public Schools Superintendent Rick Myles and SHS Principal Mike Halley, trying to determine the best way to put the funds to use. The class considered ways to donate to the new school addition, a memorial tree or other options, but decided that wouldn’t work because of some requirements of the school district.
- 2017 Alisha Huynh ($500)
- 2018 Hailey Schanaman - Scottsbluff ($500.00)
- 2019 Ashley Bair - Scottsbluff ($1,000)
- 2020 Anna Harveson - Scottsbluff ($1,000)
2021 Ashlyn Ibero - Scottsbluff ($1,000)
“We also felt we needed something that is ongoing, that helps kids,” she said. “We came up with the idea of a scholarship.”
With the help of the SHS band instructor and school officials, Wisniewski said that the Class of 1966 has selected a student to receive the first scholarship award of $500. She described the recipient as “unbelievable” and “very, very deserving.” The scholarship will be presented Monday, May 8, 7 p.m., during the band concert at Scottsbluff High School. During the presentation, Wisniewski is hoping that David McKibbins will be able to attend and a cousin of Steve Mays is hoping to be able to attend.
There will be many more scholarships awarded in memory of Steve Mays and John McKibbin. “If we do not raise another penny, we have enough money to give a scholarship every year for the next 18 years,” she said.
Wisniewski said she was not surprised that her classmates stepped up for the May-McKibbin Scholarship.
“I know my classmates,” she said. “They are an exceptional group, but I thought there would be a general outpouring. The actual generosity of some of the donations blew me away. I was so happy that we had that kind of response.” Donations didn’t only come from the Class of 1966. Donations came from the Class of 1967 and 1968 and other individuals, including a Gering High School Class of 1966 student who personally delivered his donation to Wisniewski’s home.
“We wanted to do something that would finally memorialize the kids who were killed, but honor all of them who were affected.”
Wisniewski believes the Class of 1966 has done that and hopes that continued donations will allow them to continue doing so. Donations to the May-McKibbin Scholarship established by the Class of 1966 can be made to the Oregon Trail Community Foundation.