Cherryvale alumni speak out against new student fund

Former students say they weren't told fund would be used from their account
Cherryvale-Thayer school district sign

CHERRYVALE, Kan. – Since graduating from high school in 2018, Kheley Meigs has been working toward what she wants to do with the rest of her life.

“Right now I’m at ICC [Independence Community College] West doing cosmetology,” says Meigs.

But she says a Facebook post by the Cherryvale-Thayer school district took her right back to high school.

“I was kind of in shock and I felt let down,” says Meigs.

On January 16th, the district announced a new scholarship fund, called the “Tuition Reimbursement Fund,” for students that do well in dual-credit classes.

They also said the class of 2018 was the first alumni class to fund the program.

Several former students we talked to say their graduating class raised money for a senior trip, and their senior prom. The district stopped doing senior trips in 2017, but they did have a prom. They say they had a large amount of money left in their account, so they wanted to pay for a statue at the high school.

“And now they’re just giving our money away,” says Meigs.

All of the students we talked to say they don’t mind giving money to other students, but they’re upset they weren’t told about the decision by anyone at the district.

“I’m not opposed to success for the younger kids and having incentives for them. But it was our money that we worked for, and we didn’t get anything out of it,” says class of 2018 alumni Kalynn LeQue.

“Even if they would have done the statue, and then come to the whole class and said, ‘Hey, can we donate this money to classes below you to help pay for their college?’ I guarantee our entire class would have said yes. I wish it would have been handled differently,” says Seth Carinder, another member of the 2018 graduating class.

Superintendent Shelly Kiblinger explains that during the class’ freshman and sophomore years, the school put $4500 in their student activity account, and then over the next two years, they raised an additional $6000, bring their balance to just over $10,000.

But, all but $4000 of that was used on their senior prom and graduation… not leaving enough for a statue.

She also says that she remembers the class being indecisive about what they did want to use the money on.

“I mean, we want the class to feel good about paying it forward, leaving that legacy gift for others that come after them. I apologize if the communication to all of them wasn’t what they would have liked. I do hope that in time they’ll come to see that they’ve really started something special here in our community,” says Kiblinger.

Kiblinger says $500 of the $4000 will be held back for the class of 2018’s reunion.

In August 2019, the district voted to continue to fund the scholarship fund from leftover money from student accounts.