THE FOUNDING OF THE DRUIDIC SCHOLARSHIP AWARDS PROGRAM
Past Noble Grand Arch
Past Grand Historian
The date was June 18 to 21, 1951, the location was Tracy, California, the event was the 87th Annual Session of the Grand Grove, the 51st of the Grand Circle and the 320d of the Grand Chapter of the California Druidic Order, with Noble Grand Arch Martin Kristovich presiding.
This was the year that President Truman fired General Douglas Macarthur, and the Korean War was in its second year. The two-term Presidency amendment was adopted. Meanwhile Willie Mays, at 20 years of age, made his debut with the Giants; but Bobby Thompson hit the home run heard around the world. Many of us stayed up late to catch the new TV talk shows or read "From Here to Eternity." And then, some of us non-readers were busy in our backyards digging shelters against A-bombs. This may give you a flavor for the 1951 times.
The stage was set for a very successful Druidic Convention. Tracy Grove and Lilac Circle started the festivities with an informal "Kickoff Party," given at the Tracy Inn. There was much activity including breath-taking thrills of the parade under the direction of the colorful showmanship of Past Noble Grand Arch Joseph Ghiotto. After the Annual Convocation was over the memories still lingered in the minds of all delegates and the citizens of the San Joaquin Valley. There was the dignified public reception honoring the three leaders of the Order, the exciting dinner dance, a spectacular Grand Ball, the beautiful Installation Ceremonies of the new Grand Officers, dancing, and most importantly, a serious and constructive legislative session by the Grand Grove and Grand Circle.
The most important legislation of the Session was the adoption of a resolution to create a Druids Scholarship Fund to assist students in need to finish their college education. For many years the Druidic Order had been exploring how they could help sell, advertise and market the Order. They determined it would have to be worthy of the public's attention. And the result was The Druidic Scholarship Fund. The "Fund" was adopted by the Grand Grove, and accepted by the Grand Circle at this Convention.
It was presented by the two Grand bodies, through the medium of a resolution, which was sponsored by Brothers E. D. Scruggs, Joseph Memeo and Leonard Lopez. These three Brothers spent many hours drafting the original resolution prior to its presentation at the City of Tracy. It was no easy task to think up, review, list, and re-draft the many ideas that were believed essential to make it worthwhile. Yet, these Brothers gave many hours of their time during Convention week, after all other work had ceased for the delegates, and continued working into the late hours of the night.
The resolution finally drafted, not to their complete satisfaction, but in a form believed to be acceptable to all, was presented to the Grand Grove for consideration. It was accepted by the Grand Grove delegates and then forwarded to the Grand Circle delegates for their perusal and request for their assistance in making it totally a combined approval of the "Fund." The Grand Circle responded by also accepting the resolution.
On the final day of the Convention in the Grand Grove Session, Noble Grand Arch Martin Kristovich contributed the first $50.00 to the Fund. This amount was matched by Leonard Lopez, and also equaled by Peter Cresci, the Deputy Grand Arch at the time. From that point in time almost every Grand Officer and Delegate on the floor contributed his share to a sizeable amount.
Some of the basic requirements at that time were that the boy or girl must have their name and application forwarded to the "Druidic Scholarship Fund Committee" by a Grove, Circle or Chapter. They, or their parents, needed not be members of the Druidic Order. The financial assistance would be for one year only. The amount of Scholarship at that time was contemplated to be $350.00. The students would be eligible the following year for another scholarship; however, the student had to submit another application.
HENCE, THE BIRTH OF THE DRUIDIC SCHOLARSHIP FUND
Over the years the Fund has experienced concerns of viability, student requirement changes and other program modifications. The name of the Fund was changed in 2008 to the Druidic Scholarship Awards Program. The Award amount has been increased to $1,000.00 for each student selected. The increased awareness and support of the Program by the California Druidic Order has resulted in up to twenty scholarship awards to be given in 2011. This has resulted in a 100% increase in scholarship awards in just three years. It remains that the applicants need not be from a Druidic family. The Program is very healthy at the time of this writing. The dedication of our Order, including the strong commitment of the Scholarship Committees, has raised this Program to the level of the Premier activity of the California Druidic Order.