Class of 1951 makes special donation in honor of Margaret C. Boles

PUNXSUTAWNEY — April 19, eight members representing the Punxsutawney High School Class of 1951 visited the North Findley Street campus to make a monetary — and a symbolic and heartfelt — contribution.

“On behalf of the Boles Foundation, we are grateful to the Class of 1951 for their generosity and thoughtfulness,” PAHS Principal and Boles Foundation Board President David London said. “In the spirit of Margaret Boles, her students from the Class of 1951 are continuing her work and assisting PAHS students to further their education.”

The Class of 1951 — holding its 60th reunion in September at Camp Little Leo, with more than 80 members attending the two-day event — dedicated its reunion to Margaret C. Boles, a PAHS English teacher who passed away during the class’ junior year. 

But this dedication was only the beginning of the class’ tribute to Boles, as funds gathered over the course of the weekend totalled more than $2,000, which the class decided to donate to the Margaret C. Boles Foundation.

“The fundamental decision was made by the whole class,” reunion co-chair Robert Bish said. “We were going to deplete our treasury, which we have kept since our first reunion in 1956. We tried to decide who would best use the funds. We wanted to choose a charitable organization that gives the most to Punxsutawney Area High School, and we decided we would like to give to the Boles Foundation.”

The class decided to make its donation in the amount of the number of loans the Boles Foundation has made.

“When the class voted to make the donation, it was unanimous,” reunion co-chair Mel Mitchell said. 

After Boles passed away in 1949, the teachers’ association and local civic leaders created the Margaret C. Boles Memorial Scholarship Foundation to provide loans to worthy students pursuing post-secondary training.

The year that its members graduated, the Class of 1951 staged the first-ever Variety Show and began the long-standing tradition of donating a portion of the proceeds from the show to the Boles Foundation.

That first donation in 1951 was in the amount of $473.55.

Since its inception, the Boles Foundation has provided 2,516 loans, totalling more than a million dollars, a fact that members of the Class of 1951 learned while attending the 61st annual Variety Show, “Hold Onto the Memories,” in late March, presented by the PAHS Class of 2012.

Thus, the Class of 1951 decided to further the cause in a special way: By matching its donation — $2,156 — to the total number of loans given — 2,156 — by the foundation.

After the combination of the treasury and reunion funds, the class was short of its goal by around $300. But according to Mitchell, members of the class provided the additional amount outright and without hesitation. 

“It’s great to see that the Class of 1951 would look back to their roots and decide to give back so generously to the foundation,” said senior class president, Alex Fedigan, who, via his office, also serves as a committee member on the Boles Foundation. “Their donation will go towards helping us to be able to give more money to students in the future.”

Boles’ legacy is one of generosity and friendship, and her kindness is echoed through the actions of her students of the Class of 1951. 

“Through our visit with the Class of 1951 members, we learned that graduating from Punxsutawney High School is a powerful bond of friendship and family, and that the lessons of kindness, thoughtfulness and generosity were taught and learned in the 1940s and early 1950s,” London said.

 By contributing to this cause, the Class of 1951, The Margaret C. Boles Memorial Scholarship Foundation and all who support it — as well as the Class of 2012 — do more than simply “Hold Onto the Memories,” as they keep alive a spirit of giving that will continue to benefit the community and its graduates for generations to come.