The late teacher and coach Ken Stark, and several members of the community have been recognized by the Vinton-Shellsburg Community School District Foundation for their contributions to the education and well-being of students. The Foundation is also recognizing other members of the community including Jo Sainsbury, recognized for her years as a teacher, administrator, and board member, and Julie Clingman for being an outstanding volunteer at Tilford. Also recognized are Larry Druschel and Dave Vermedahl who have volunteered as the announcers of Viking football for 40 years.


The school district’s foundation recently established the “Gifts of Gratitude” program to honor individuals who have made or continue to make a difference in the lives of students. Everyone is invited to remember and celebrate the outstanding contributions school staff, and volunteers have made for them, their family members, or school students in general. A form on the foundation’s website is available to post your gratitude and can be reached by The web address also provides an opportunity to share your appreciation for the contributions of those who have been mentioned above.


In addition to expressing gratitude, the program’s goal is to support today’s PreK-12 students by providing increased financial support for students. Tony Bopp has redirected $10,000 used to establish a scholarship in memory of his wife, Jill, class of 1973, to be the founding gift of the new program. These funds will be used to provide opportunities for students interested in the performing arts.


“I think Jill would be ecstatic about having her memorial funds put to work for students to experience the performing arts,” explained Tony, “because she loved every aspect of live performance, from costume design to the curtain call. I’ve asked that our gift is used to help students reach for new experiences. That might mean paying for meals on a day when the students need to travel, or it might mean helping pay for a band instrument; the important thing is that the funds be used to improve the opportunity student have to explore the performing arts, and the focus remains on what students need to do that exploration.”


“Scholarships are a wonderful place to put money,” says Tony. “There’s no question that a college education has become outrageously expensive. But there’s also something to be said for keeping your money close to home, and for giving our young people opportunities to find out what area of study they might use a scholarship to pursue.”


Steve Meyer of Garrison, who expressed appreciation and gratitude for Ken Stark. Steve wrote, “Without a doubt, Coach Ken Stark was the most influential teacher of my high school era because he taught me to learn from the past and reach beyond my comfort zone when as a senior he motivated me to participate in cross-country, the only athletic sports activity of my high school years.”


The Vinton-Shellsburg Community School District Foundation (VSCSDF) is a non-profit, 501C3 charitable corporation dedicated to improving education for students. The Foundation is under the direction of an independent board of volunteers working closely with the school district’s serve students in Vinton, Garrison, Shellsburg, Mount Auburn and Brandon.


Through the VSCSDF, donors have complete assurance that 100% of their gifts will reach the group of students or programs that they wish to support. To learn more or to make a donation, visit the foundation’s website at, or contact Teresa Meyer, president of the foundation’s board, at or 319-472-2001.