By Vanesa Brashier, firstname.lastname@example.org
For the last five years, the M Club of Tarkington has supported Tarkington High School seniors through scholarships, raising tens of thousands of dollars that is distributed to every student attending secondary or vocational education after graduation.
The M Club, founded by Grant Cook and Tom Johnson, is made up of 30 members, or member couples, who donate $1,000 annually toward the scholarship program. The M Club name is derived from the Roman numeral M, which means 1,000.
“We collect $30,000 for scholarships before we even start with our events,” Johnson said. “We don’t advertise our members’ names. They are not looking to get their name called. The biggest part of them don’t even have kids going to school in Tarkington. They might have grandkids attending, but they all just want to support Tarkington.”
The M Club’s crawfish boil on Saturday, April 6, at the J Bar Arena in Tarkington served an estimated 500 people – a record-setter for the club.
“This year, we are right at $100,000 and I’m still working on how much we cleared,” Johnson said. “Last year we raised about $80,000 from the crawfish boil and cleared about $65,000.”
By the end of the night Saturday, volunteers had served up 2,000 pounds of crawfish, 500 more pounds than they originally planned.
“This year I increased the amount we had from 1,300 pounds to 1,500 pounds. An hour into serving, we knew we were in trouble,” said Johnson, adding that turnout was better than they anticipated. “We had to hustle and find 600 more pounds of crawfish. It’s very difficult to gauge how many people you will have at an event like this. We underestimated how much support we would receive from the community.”
Johnson said the success of the event speaks well of the Tarkington community.
“It’s amazing to see a community like Tarkington, that has no big industry, come together to show this kind of support for its students,” he said.
The money collected by the M Club will now be turned over to the Tarkington ISD Education Foundation, which will distribute the scholarships to students at the end of the school year.
Graduating seniors at Tarkington High School should speak to their guidance counselor about the scholarship program.
“On average, they have paid out an average of 50 scholarships per year. It’s available to all students who apply. There are no questions asked about GPA, no essays that have to be written and no picking and choosing,” Johnson said. “The student just has to fill out the paperwork and explain where the money is going.”