West Meadowlark teacher’s legacy supports students

By Kjell Wickstrom

EDMONTON — When Raymond Courchesne died in 1996, he left a huge hole in the community of West Meadowlark.

His legacy lives on in the form of the Raymond Courchesne Memorial Scholarship, which his widow hopes to award again, after a year in which nobody applied.

“I believe in making sure that these scholarships are going out to kids who are furthering their education,” said Sylvia Courchesne, who is the scholarship co-ordinator for West Meadowlark Community League. “This is the way my husband would have wanted it.”

Raymond Courchesne was a teacher, a husband and a father. He was a cornerstone of his community, serving on the West Meadowlark Community League’s executive starting in 1985, and for a time as its president.

Courchesne scholarship

Max Welz and Chelsea Moffat receive the Raymond Courchesne Memorial Scholarship from the West Meadowlark Community League in the fall of 2010. Photo supplied by West Meadowlark Community League.

He died at the age of 45 while he was hiking with his son. His death devastated the community, said Sylvia Courchesne.

“He had spent the night doing a casino application (for the community league),” she said. “Six hours later he was gone.”

He is remembered for his dedication to the community and his love of learning. The scholarship program is meant to honour his legacy and support students in the West Meadowlark community.

West Meadowlark offers two $500 scholarships each year to youth who have just completed Grade 12 and are going on to postsecondary education.

Even though the money is available, it doesn’t always get used. Last year, the community league didn’t award its scholarships because nobody applied, said Courchesne.

“Sometimes people just don’t pay attention.”

Information about the scholarships is available in the community newsletter and on the community league’s website, she said.

“A lot of scholarships… unfortunately people don’t know about them,” said Max Welz, a student at the University of Alberta who received the scholarship in 2010.

West Meadowlark isn’t the only community league that offers scholarships to members who are moving on to post-secondary education. Aldergrove and Belmead have similar programs.

Students and their parents are moving into their last semester of high school. Beyond the prospect of graduating in June, many are looking for ways to support their education.

A little extra money when going to school can always be helpful, and can make getting that education just a little bit less stressful. Apart from the financial support, scholarships can also help to motivate young students.

“They make you feel like you’ve done something before you start university,” said Welz.

This all serves to build the community and support those students who will be leaders in the future, and hopefully make community members that people like Raymond Courchesne would be proud of.

West Meadowlark’s deadline for scholarship applications is at the end of August, and they are available to community members graduating from Grade 12.

If you don’t live in West Meadowlark, check the community league websites to see what is offered in your community.

The government of Alberta as well as most universities also have scholarship listings to help students find financial support.