MILBANK, S.D. (KELO) — A lot of high schools in KELOLAND are celebrating graduation this week, including Sioux Falls. It’s an exciting time for seniors, but perhaps nowhere does a town invest more in its seniors than in the town of Milbank.

Thirty-eight seniors at Milbank High School received scholarships this year totaling more than $230,000.

All that money came from local donors.

Milbank has been awarding these scholarships since 1986 when the district started the Milbank Education Scholarship Foundation.

“There was a group of Milbank forefathers, astute businessmen who owned a long-term care facility and decided to sell it, so they took a portion of that seed money from that sale and started the Milbank High School Education Foundation in 1986,” Foundation President Susan Leddy said.

The foundation and how much it’s given out over the years has grown. Board member Jeff Jones spoke to KELOLAND News about the impact the foundation makes on the community.

Don Jorgensen: Jeff, you’re on the board, what do you like about this and what does it say about your community?

Jeff: Milbank is unique. I think Milbank has always taken care of their own, we are away from everybody kind of hidden out there but I think it just says a lot about the people of Milbank and how they are going to take care of their own and not be dependent on others.

They just don’t hand out the scholarships to anyone; you have to be in the top 50% of the class.

“We do look at extracurriculars, your GPAs, your ACT scores, community service,” Leddy said.

The scholarships range from $2,500 to $26,00.

Jaclyn Carlson Van Lith was awarded one of the $26,000 scholarships over 20 years ago.

She went on to become a veterinarian and eventually moved back to Milbank to start her own animal clinic.

Don: What would your advice be to any of these recipients this year?

Jaclyn: My advice is go out explore, get your experience but don’t forget about home because it really is a great community and a lot of opportunities. Don’t count out Milbank, keep it in the back of your mind.

Because like they always say, home is where the heart is.

The 38 seniors received a total of 55 scholarships, meaning some got more than one.