Gillani scholarship

Assistant principal Pamela Holloway, students and Gillani scholarship recipients Jordan Parker, senior, and Logan Rawls, junior, and principal Chris Hand pose in front of Dadeville High School Tuesday.

Dadeville High School students Jordan Parker, senior, and Logan Rawls, junior, were unexpectedly called into the school's main office Tuesday morning, only to be handed checks for $1,000 each.

"It's an incentive," principal Chris Hand said.

The Gillani Family Foundation scholarship, was set up specifically for Dadeville High School students by Lake Martin residents Cindy and Aleem Gillani last year. After applying in September, Rawls and Parker found out they were selected as the inaugural recipients this week.

What's unusual about the scholarship is, unlike most scholarships awarded to high schoolers, the students don't have to be seniors, and they don't have to be college-bound. In fact, they may not even have planned on finishing high school. All of that is by design.

"The problem that Dadeville High School has is they have kids who go and work in the summer and then they don't come back in the fall," Aleem Gillani, retired SunTrust Banks CFO, told The Outlook in July. "We wanted to encourage kids to stay in school through the entire time. And the problem is if they're making money, they don't come back to school."

Just under 90 percent of Tallapoosa County Schools students graduate high school. Of the three schools, Dadeville's rate is the lowest at about 83 percent.

According to Aleem, the scholarship is an experiment, aimed at incentivizing students to return in the fall. To apply, students must keep a certain GPA, engage in community service over the summer and write an essay about it, but once awarded, the recipient can spend it however they please. According to the principal, it's the first community scholarship in Dadeville awarded for any use.

Not that Parker and Rawls were ever at risk of dropping out.

Indeed, Parker has already started applying to schools and plans on majoring in accounting or business management, with a focus on human resources. Rawls, still in 11th grade, hopes to become a pilot at the United States Air Force Academy.

"These two are going to finish," Hand said. "These two are going to college."

According to Hand, the school is still trying to get the word out on the no-strings, $1,000 grant scholarship to the students for whom it was targeted.

"This is something they want to grow and continue with upcoming ninth-, 10th- and 11th-graders," Hand said. "This will help us get the word out. It's kind of difficult coming from business into education. Sometimes it takes time to get things started."

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