John Herpers ’64 knows from personal experience that the right school at the right time in a young person’s life can make all the difference in the world.
“When I came to University School, I had lots of challenges,” John says. But the rigours of boarding school life and ongoing attention from the staff helped him conquer those challenges and set him on a path to achievement. “Without University School,” John says, “my life would have turned out very differently.”
When he encountered St. Andrew Nativity School in his hometown of Portland, Oregon, John recognized the same dynamic at work. The school offers a strong academic program and a structured environment to help its low-income students succeed. John believed so strongly that SMUS would be the perfect high school environment for St. Andrew’s promising Grade 8 graduates, that he assembled a coalition of SMUS alumni to sponsor a student, Musu, to attend the school for four years.
“It was an experiment,” John says about the decision, and he is clearly delighted with the outcome. In 2010, the group sponsored its second St. Andrew graduate, Paris Lowe, who is now in her second year at SMUS. John is actively recruiting other alumni and SMUS community members to start an endowment fund to give the St. Andrew Nativity School scholarship longevity. As John says, “This project has touched the whole school.”
Watching him banter with Musu at her graduation ceremonies in June, it’s clear that the person most touched has been John himself. “I’ve gotten so attached to these kids,” he says. “It’s a big deal, watching how far they grow with this experience.”
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