A Brighton High School alumna recently launched a scholarship for graduating students in memory of teachers Elizabeth Hart and Louise Thomas.
Hart is credited with contributing to a lasting standard of excellence in writing, editing and proofreading at BHS. Thomas is remembered for instilling in her students a lifelong understanding of, respect for and ability in grammar, punctuation and usage at Twelve Corners Middle School.
The Hart-Thomas Scholarship annually awards $1,000 through the Brighton Schools Alumni Association. The scholarship was established and funded in 2020 by Ruth Thaler-Carter, who credits the Brighton school system — Thomas and Hart in particular — with providing skills and confidence that were key to her professional success as a writer, editor and proofreader.
“Both Miss Thomas and Miss Hart were tough, demanding teachers who expected us to think and write clearly and accurately,” Thaler-Carter said. “If they gave you a good grade, you really felt you earned it.”
Thomas taught sixth grade English. Hart led Advanced Placement English and an elective on critical reading and writing.
“I use Miss Thomas’ training literally every day, and I still have all the papers I wrote for Miss Hart and cherish every handwritten or typed comment on every assignment,” Thaler-Carter said. “Those comments are a course in how to think and write better. She expected us to learn the basics, but she also encouraged original approaches to assignments.”
Hart’s influence extended beyond the literary arts.
“As someone who has pursued a lifelong career in science, I feel great gratitude to Miss Hart not only for teaching me how to write clearly, but also for instilling the critical-thinking skills that have been so valuable to me,” BSAA President Steve Gaudioso said.
In response to the new scholarship, Principal Tom Hall said, “It is truly amazing to experience the power that a teacher’s influence can have on our students years after they graduate from Brighton High School.”
“One of the most powerful aspects of the Brighton experience is the role that our alumni play in modeling the ways a Brighton education is a passport for our students to travel to exciting personal and professional places in their careers and in their lives,” said Kevin McGowan, superintendent of the Brighton Central School District. “These same alumni often cite their individual experiences with incredible educators as the bedrock to their preparation for life’s journeys.”
The award recognizes a graduating BHS senior who demonstrated initiative, originality, creativity, independence, critical reading and writing skills, and overall excellence in written materials. The recipient does not have to major in English or journalism in college, and should not have served on the Trapezoid newspaper, Galaxy literary magazine or yearbook.
“Being a writer takes guts and persistence,” Thaler-Carter said. “I’d like to see recognition for students who find their own paths.”
Thaler-Carter started her own literary magazine after being turned down for Galaxy and earned her first freelance journalism income by writing a column for the Brighton-Pittsford Post while at BHS.
Applicants must submit up to five examples of essays, fiction, poetry and/or articles they wrote, including two for a class and three for publications or outlets other than Trapezoid or Galaxy. This can include blog posts and self-published books. Applications will be reviewed by Thaler-Carter and a committee of current or retired BHS teachers, including at least one from the BHS English Department.
Depending on additional contributions, the award may be increased in a given year or several students may each receive a $1,000 award in the same year. The scholarship is a one-time award per recipient.
To contribute, send checks made out to the BSAA with Hart-Thomas Scholarship in the memo line to BSAA c/o Brighton Central School District, 2035 Monroe Ave., Rochester, New York, 14618. Scholarship donations are tax-deductible.