By Michal MacMorran, Sophomore
This year, a new scholarship is being presented at EHS to honor and remember Parker Gilliland, a former student and friend.
Rhea Carter, a former friend of Parker’s mother and committee member for the scholarship, has played a huge role in funding and putting everything together, which is mostly driven by “donations upon donations.” Everything started in July 2014, with Parker’s vigil. That was when people started pulling out their wallets extending donations.
“It rolled from there. It paid for the vigil, but then we had all this extra money. We said, ‘What are we gonna do?’. That’s when we decided to start a scholarship in his name, and that’s how it all began,” Carter said.
Carter and her team have raised money in a number of ways: selling bracelets and stickers,, conducting an event with music, food, and some silent auctions, and selling Chik-fil-A sandwiches at the Edgewood vs Owen Valley basketball game. At that same game, Parker and two other recently deceased boys from OV were honored, and all of the donations raised there were split between Parker’s scholarship committee and partnering people at OV.
Thus far, Carter and her team have raised approximately $7,000 dollars. The recipient of the scholarship, given they have met the required criteria for eligibility and have been selected to receive it, will be given $1000. The scholarship is to be an annual one given to a single student, starting this year.
“I want people 20 years from now to say, ‘You know Parker? I remember hearing about Parker Gilliland’. I want his name to stay alive through this scholarship,” Carter said.
The scholarship will be given through Dollars for Scholars. Eligible students, with at least a 3.0 GPA, that want to apply will have to write an essay answering, “If you were a superhero, who would you help?” To accompany the essay, students will have to draw a picture of their hero.
“It’s all based on superheroes,” Carter said. “It really brings out creativity. Parker was really into art, and he loved superheroes, so this scholarship is really about being creative.”
This scholarship has the opportunity to bring to light more than just artwork and money.
“It keeps his name alive. It was a horrible tragedy, what happened to Parker, so I think keeping his name brings awareness to what happened to him. Hopefully it will help somebody down the road,” Carter said.
Carter and her committee aren’t the only people taking action in making all of this possible.The National Honors Society held a 5K on November 2nd. They sold capes, decorated with the famed Super Parker image on them, and received donations from companies, churches, and local businesses for the Parker Fund.
“We ended up donating $1,350,” Liz VanAllen, a NHS member, said. “In the back of our mind we had a goal to raise maybe about $1000. Really none of us thought we would raise that much money. Our main goal was to have a successful run and actually have people come out to it, and we did. It’s so awesome that we ended up raising a lot more money than we thought we would.”
Though the number on exactly how many people ran varied, 92 people were signed up, almost all of which were students. People from Ellettsville, Bloomington, and Spencer alike have contributed in honoring and remembering Parker through donations towards his scholarship.
“It really shows that the community cares a lot,” Tanner Kolbe, one of Parker’s best friends, said. “No one wants anything like that to happen again.”
All in all, what started as a simple ceremony in July has taken flight and thrived into what it’s become now in February.
“It’s been wonderful with the way the community has come together,” Carter said. “People are just opening their wallets. We always think these things only happen to other people, yet it happened. It happened here. People have just been so generous, though, and it’s amazing to see how it’s affected the community. It’s trickled out, and it’s brought us together.”