R-P alum establishes scholarship

Chad Smith

Rushford native Ron Kjos is giving back to the school that he credits for his start. Kjos, a 1950 Rushford High School grad, enjoyed a long career in the medical field, has established a scholarship that will aid R-P graduating seniors for many years to come.

“It’s a $500 scholarship that will go to the graduating senior with the highest GPA,” said Kjos from his home in Riverside, Calif. “The scholarship can be used for either a two-year or a four-year school. Back in my day, it seemed like everyone wanted to go to a four-year school and forgot about trade schools. That’s changed quite a bit these days.

“It’s interesting to me that back in my day, I was valedictorian of my graduating class (1950),” he recalled. “As valedictorian, I had a scholarship that amounted to a grand total of $40. However, these will be worth $500 apiece.”

R-P Superintendent Chuck Ehler said Kjos first approached him about the scholarship idea back in 2012. Ehler said Kjos is a very knowledgeable person himself and wanted to help students continue their education after graduating high school.

“He was very successful in the medical field, specifically as an anesthesiologist,” Ehler said. “As he reached the end of his medical career, Ron had a really strong desire to give back. He chose to reward hard work in high school by giving $500 to the graduating senior with the highest GPA, once a year for the next twenty years.”

The total value of all the scholarships will amount to $10,000, which Kjos says, “If you do the math, that means it should last for twenty years.”

Kjos studied medicine at Tufts University in Boston, arriving there after stops at the University of Minnesota and the University of North Dakota.

“I first got the idea for a scholarship when I was in medical school,” Kjos said. “The various alumni associations asked if I would consider donating to them for their assistance in my education. I had been doing that and spreading it out over two different schools, including the University of North Dakota and Tufts in Boston.”

It wasn’t until his 50th medical school class reunion in Boston that he began to consider a high school scholarship program for Rushford-Peterson. As he was taking a medical class reunion picture, Kjos asked himself if there were any other institutions that were equally important in his life. That’s when he remembered that “high schools are the place where everything starts.”

Ehler said Kjos was very impressed with the quality of education at Rushford-Peterson schools. He also said the school is indebted to Kjos and it means a lot to the administration and staff when a very successful alumni chooses to give back.

“It’s so rewarding,” Ehler said. “I work closely with the Rushford-Peterson Foundation and it’s fantastic when an alumnus seek us out. It’s fascinating to hear what people were able to gain from their education at Rushford or Peterson, as well as at Rushford-Peterson. It’s fun to hear how the teachers they had back then built a successful foundation for their future.”

The first scholarship winner will be announced during the Senior Awards Night on May 19.