Principal undertakes a spirit of generosity to ensure that every student enjoys all high school has to offer
By Kate Magill
For today’s public schools, the term “public” is no longer all encompassing for a tuition-free education. Between expensive school supplies, college entrance exam fees, athletic fees and school lunches, the cost of sending a child to high school can still be very expensive.
Because of this, UAHS principal Kip Greenhill has undertaken a “philosophy of giving” in order to help every student in need, so that all may be able to experience everything that high school has to offer.
Throughout his time as principal, his unnamed fund has given money to families in order to help pay for SAT and ACT exam fees, school lunches, prom tickets, books for English classes, athletic participation fees and most recently, for the new $130 school calculators.
“It’s a philosophy that we have at the school. Many families experience, during their life times, financial trouble, and I just believe very strongly that no student should not have the normal high school experiences,” Greenhill said.
According to Greenhill, the money for this fund comes from the school vending machines, the Board of Education, private donors, the school store and the Parent Teacher Organization. According to school account records, on an average year the vending machines raise $9,000, and the Board of Education donates $10,000.
However, with the recent downturn in the economy, the demand for financial aid for families has gone up while the supply has stayed the same, putting the fund in trouble.
“What’s happened with this downturn in the economy is more and more families are asking for assistance,” Greenhill said.
The problem arose last spring, when according to Greenhill, the fund was almost completely empty due to the spike in financial need from families. To combat this problem, the school looked for other alternatives to raise revenue. Over the summer, Greenhill spoke with Giant Eagle Market District, and created a deal for raising money for the fund. On August 26, Giant Eagle gave the incentive that the supermarket would take $5 off every student’s meal, and then would donate $5 to the school.
“I thought that [deal] was unbelievably generous,” Greenhill said of the incentive.
With the help of Giant Eagle and the continued profit from the vending machines and other donors, the money has started to come back into the fund.
While Greenhill does not hesitate to give money to students in need, he expects that once families are back on their feet, they can begin to pay back the school. He said that although the money is not technically a loan, he would like families to begin paying back the school for the supplies even in small installments over the course of several months.
Beyond just this year, Greenhill is also in the midst of creating two more initiatives to help keep the fund alive for years to come.
Currently, he is drafting a letter to be sent to all paremts, enouraging them to donate to the fund.
“I’m in the process now of sending a letter to the parents and I will explain the situation to them, and I’m going to ask parents to make a contribution to the school fund we’ve set up,” he said.
Greenhill also explained that he has a plan to keep the fund strong even after he has retired at the end of the school year.
“I have a plan to create an endowment so that there is always money in [the fund] and then the interest from that endowment we can use so we always have some money,” he said.
Although high school may be more expensive than just the cost of pencil and paper, Greenhill’s philosophy of giving provides the opportunity for every UAHS student to enjoy all that secondary school has to offer—no matter what the price.