Going back to the roots of education in Texas, Mount Hiram Masonic Lodge 595 gave two Cove High School students a financial boost as they head off to college.
Two CCHS seniors, Alexus Blake and Allen Dees, and English and journalism teacher, Janice Stalder, received the Mirabeau B. Lamar Scholarship and Award for Excellence in Education respectively.
Scholarship committee chairman, Mike Wilburn, said the students received $1,000 each and Stalder received a $100 cash award.
“One of the things our lodge does is like to support education. The Masonic Lodge was instrumental in starting the first schools in Texas,” Wilburn said.
In December 1838, Mirabeau B. Lamar, a Mason, became president of the Republic of Texas and became known as the “Father of Texas Education” for his support of public education. He urged the state Congress to set aside lands for the creation of a public school system in Texas.
In 1884, the Mount Hiram Lodge 595 and Copperas Cove schools met in the same building. The Masonic offices and meeting rooms where upstairs while teachers held classes for students downstairs. As the number of students grew, the Masonic order ultimately relocated to another location to allow for more classroom space.
In 1848, Mount Hiram Lodge 595 had set aside 10 percent of its revenue to fund education in Copperas Cove and had administrative oversight of the school system until the 1900s.
Wilburn said the students are required to submit a letter of reference regarding their community service work and an additional letter as a character reference from a teacher, church member, or another organization to qualify for the scholarship. Students also are required to be involved in extracurricular activities.
Blake is a founding member of the city’s Youth Activities Council and served as vice president before taking a staff position at the Parks and Recreation Department.
“Alexus is a great leader and it shows in her dedication,” said Mark Willingham of the Parks and Recreation Department. “Now part of the city as a recreation aide, Alexus is a great addition to our team and we know she will continue to grow professionally.”