West Union rocked by controversial aid effort
By Jenny Hills
(Knight-Rider) Cairo, Tenn. — School officials at a West Union High School thought they were participating in an exciting new scholarship program, but they got more than they bargained for when the operators of a questionable scholarship program visited the school.
“While some scholarships require students to maintain a 3.0 grade point average or score a 1500 on the SAT, all that we ask is that they score a .08 on a breathalyzer,” says Wyatt Duvall, founder of the SR-22 Scholarship Fund.
The trouble occurred during the district-wide Scholarship Day, when representatives of various scholarship programs visited area high schools. The purpose of the visit was to inform students of the loans and grants available to them, says West Union assistant principal Wayne McGrathers. Virtually all scholarship programs had gone through an extensive screening process, McGrathers adds, but one late entry listed as the SR-22 Scholarship Fund managed to slip through the screening process.
“Although we had a record number of scholarships available to West Union students this year, few representatives wanted to speak directly to them,” McGrathers says. “We didn’t really know the details of Mr. Duvall’s scholarship program. We thought it was open to all students.”
According to Duvall, the scholarship is still accepting applications, and contrary to what McGrathers says, the program is open to all students. “The SR-22 Scholarship Fund does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sex, sexual identification, political persuasion, grades, intelligence, looks, personality, ability to play a musical instrument, kiss up to guidance counselors, or [perform oral sex] on their teachers,” Duvall says.
As shocking as it may sound, when Duvall spoke at the school assembly, teachers and administrators were initially unfazed by the terms of the scholarship. “I thought he was really reaching out to some of our most troubled students, the ones who may have gotten off on the wrong foot and who thought that college just wasn’t going to be an option for them,” says 11th grade English instructor Candice Opala. “But the more I thought about it, I realized just how repulsive it was.”
According to Carter Yale, it wasn’t long into Duvall’s presentation before the truth about SR-22 was realized. “I was horrified,” Yale says. “That monster actually told students to, ‘Get behind the wheel and take control of your destiny. The road ahead is yours.’ He actually said that.”
Duvall admits he made that statement, but he says his words have been misinterpreted. “I just want the youth of today to take a more active role in their futures,” he says. “It’s time for some good ole American gumption.”
As for the future of this country, how do they feel about the SR-22 scholarship. “It’s what I do every weekend anyway,” says senior Sean Lata. “And if it increases my chances of making it to college, then it’s even better.
The 12th grader adds, “The only way I can afford to go to college now is to join the Army or something. Thanks to Mr. Duvall, it’s like I don’t even have to try. The money’s already mine”