Money will go to scholarship program
Blair will receive $50,000 granted in the will of a retired teacher who died last March.
Former Blair Latin teacher Hazel Bratt, who retired in 1968, died on March 16, 2005, two days before her 100th birthday.
The $50,000 will be used to create the Hazel M. Bratt Language Scholarship for foreign language students at Blair who plan on studying language in college, according to Sandy Shmookler, a special assistant in the office of the MCPS Chief Operating Officer.
The scholarship, which will be a minimum sum of $1,000 awarded each year, will be given to a student who has a minimum 3.0 grade point average. Preference will be given to students enrolled in Latin and to those involved in activities related to the Foreign Language Department.
Bratt taught Latin at Blair from 1927 to 1968. During her tenure, she initiated a Latin Scrabble competition and was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship. "She was a well-known person in the Foreign Language area — she really sounded interesting," said Gainous.
On Feb. 14, Shmookler received a letter from Carolyn Heuser, Bratt's niece, explaining how the scholarship will be organized and providing details about Bratt's 41-year career at Blair.
Bratt's nephew, Harry Bratt, remembers her dedication to Blair and to the Latin language. "She was very, very dedicated to teaching Latin and wanted to see people continue to study Latin," he said, recalling how Bratt often talked about her time teaching at Blair.
Blair receives numerous donations from alumni, parents and other community members each year, Gainous said, but Bratt's contribution is one of the largest in Blair's history. "That's the biggest [donation] in my memory," he said.
Bratt's gift is also one of the largest non-corporate donations MCPS has ever received, Shmookler said. "From an individual, this is one of the largest donations - this is very special," she said.
At Blair, several parents and alumni are currently working to reestablish the Blair Education Foundation, a charitable organization designed to raise funds for Blair.
Aaron Klein, a 1994 Blair graduate and one of the Foundation's central organizers, believes that Blair should seek funds from everyone affiliated with, or formerly connected to, the school. "Blair has a huge alumni network, and there are lots of alumni who loved their time at Blair and want to give back," said Klein.
The Blair Education Foundation will serve as a tool to help people in the Blair community donate, stated Klein. "Many individuals who love Blair don't have the vehicle to support Blair. The Blair Education Foundation will be that vehicle," he said. The organization became dormant in the late 1990s, but Klein hopes that it will soon be recertified as a charity.
MCPS solicits and collects donations through a nonprofit organization that Shmookler helps to coordinate, the Montgomery County Education Foundation, which is separate from fundraising organizations at individual schools. "The Foundation is a nonprofit arm of the school system," explained Shmookler. "We raise money for three things: scholarships, new teacher initiatives and opening up schools at night for students to have increased computer access." The Foundation solicits monetary donations from County residents, alumni, parents and businesses.
Donations are used for a variety of projects, said Gainous. "We help set students up at school," he explained. "After New Orleans, we aided some of the refugees attending Blair by providing them with coats and supplies for their new homes."
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