Clay and Sue Wiseman say they wanted to find a way to honor their youngest of two sons, Noah, after he passed away in June 2014. With the support of the local school district and contributions from family, friends, residents, and other area citizens, the Wisemans created the “Win For Wiseman” Scholarship, essentially to give away a scholarship to a deserving Heyworth High School student.

At least, as they were beginning this endeavor, they believed it would only be one scholarship. But when their efforts caused $10,000 to come in that first year, the Wisemans found they could give away not one but a pair of $5,000 scholarships. From the award’s first year, that is what they have done to help two deserving HHS seniors ever since.

The first year the scholarships were given, the Wisemans used an independent panel of judges without their direct involvement, and they confined the contest to members of the Heyworth High football squad, the team Noah belonged to at the time of his passing. In the years that followed, they expanded eligibility to members of HHS’ senior class.

Eight grads from HHS have benefitted from this honor. Two more will benefit from it as well this year. But after those two deserving recipients who enter this year’s essay contest in hopes of and then each receiving their $5,000 scholarship receive their awards, the Wisemans will end their charitable venture. That’s because, when it began, they only intended for it to last just five years.

This year’s question: “What role does social media play in your life? Write about its influence and lack thereof, including advantages and disadvantages for society.” Essays from the students are due into the HHS’ Counseling Office by Friday, Feb. 14. Sue Wiseman said scholarship winners will be notified by March 16. Once a student turns in an essay, which must be between 300-1,000 words in length, it is given a number by the counseling office to keep committee members from knowing the name of the student who submitted it.

“I can tell you Clay came up with the question this year, and I, personally, think it’s the best question we’ve ever had,” Sue Wiseman, Noah’s mother, said, adding she “just looked at Clay in awe when he said it.”

The Wisemans, older son Kyle and wife, Jill, and Jeff and Julie Day serve as the panel of judges for the scholarship. Each student submitting an essay does so to the school’s counseling office. School Counselor Rebecca Stanton receives the essays and assigns a number to each essay as a means of preserving the anonymity of the student who wrote it so that the committee can judge each essay unbiasedly.

“I’m not a huge social media individual,” Noah’s father, Clay, added. “I don’t have the time to be addicted to my phone or my iPad or my computer. “But as you look at the news, read the news, I just want to get a picture of what drives these kids to be so involved in social media yet not have one-on-one contact with their classmates, their families, their friends, or why do they always have their faces in their phones or iPads.”

Clay Wiseman said he and Sue monitored how much time Noah could be on social media, with the parental goal of time he spent on social media limited as much as could be done.

Sue Wiseman added this topic came about as a result of the couple’s own views concerning the subject. “We would like to hear from the students about the good, the bad, and the ugly on this subject,” She added.

Being the final year of this scholarship, Clay Wiseman said, there was never an intent for he and Sue to memorialize their youngest son. “We committed to five years and we thought that after five years, this spring, the first “Win For Wiseman” scholarship winners graduate from college,” he said. Those first two recipients, Cole Sinn and Jacob Day, are both preparing to enter the working work after receiving their college diplomas this spring. Sinn from Aurora University where he played football, as well, and Day from University of Dubuque.

After this year, the “Win For Wiseman” scholarship will have raised $50,000 during its five-year span. Looking back, Clay Wiseman said doing that to help the HHS students they have in that time “is a remarkable thing.”

The names of the HHS alums who won this scholarship before are familiar to locals, of course, and include 2016 recipients Day and Sinn; 2017 recipients Saegan Snow and Jackson Bradshaw; 2018 recipients Riley Ryburn and Amber Tomlin; and 2019 recipients Kara Monteggia and Claire Martens. Clay Wiseman is quick to remind there were no corporate entities involved during this venture. “This all came from friends and family. We didn’t consider approaching corporations. But those friends and family came through for us.” He choked up a little as he concluded, “We’ve done well. We’re happy with the result.”

As no doubt are the families of the high school grads-turned-college grads and soon-to-be college grads who were aided by the Wiseman’s efforts.

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