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Friends band together to establish their alma mater’s first permanent scholarship

The donors: John Ellis and friends

The gift: Raising $120,000, and climbing

The cause: Sir Charles Tupper Secondary School in Vancouver

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The reason: To finance scholarships

When John Ellis and some friends got involved with preparations to commemorate the 50th anniversary of their old high school, Vancouver's Sir Charles Tupper Secondary School, they noticed that their alma mater didn't have a permanent scholarship fund.

They decided to see if they could raise $400,000 and use the interest generated from that amount to pay for scholarships. Mr. Ellis and four friends – Hal Krieger, Doug Rowa, Dave Van Hatten and Pat Anderson – each chipped in $1,000 and they found about 60 others who committed the same amount.

Six years later, the Friends of Tupper Fund has $120,000 and the first scholarship will be awarded in May. The school selects the winner, based largely on financial need, and the fund is managed by the Vancouver Foundation.

"Our goal is still $400,000," said Mr. Ellis, 68, a retired federal public servant who lives in Halfmoon Bay, B.C.

He said the fund has made one request of the recipients: that they consider making a donation to the school later in their life. "We hope this will give them a connection to the school."

Mr. Ellis, who graduated in 1965, handles most of the fundraising and he will present the first award at the school's graduation ceremony this spring. "I think it will be quite emotional," he said. "It will be 50 years since I graduated and stood on that stage … I think it will be emotional because we're able to contribute something that we didn't have when we graduated."

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