After a hiatus, the James Baran Memorial Scholarship, sponsored by The Cape Cod Chronicle for Monomoy Dollars for Scholars in memory of longtime Chronicle columnist Jim Baran, is once again helping a student to reach her dreams.
The student who has been awarded the $500 scholarship is Monomoy Regional High School graduate Hannah Thacher of Harwich, who will attend Husson University in Maine in the fall. Thacher will enter an accelerated program in occupational therapy, completing her masters degree in five years. She then intends to begin her career in Boston.
“I learned that I had been awarded the scholarship on scholarship night when my name was called,” Thacher says. “I was surprised, and I was crying tears of happiness, so I felt a little embarrassed. The amount I received in scholarships brings my required payment down to about $800 per semester, which will be an enormous help. The prices to attend college are crazy now. It was a big relief, and I was shocked to receive so much help.”
Jean Young, Monomoy Dollars for Scholars co-president and ChapterNet Super Administrator, runs the program and produces materials for the awards committee. She explains that Monomoy Dollars for Scholars was originally Chatham Dollars for Scholars. The organization changed its name and mission two years ago to include Harwich following the regionalization of the school districts.
“Hannah lives in Harwich, but it didn't make any difference where she lives,” Young explains. “We are trying to build up Harwich participation, however, in terms of sponsoring businesses. Lots of businesses in Chatham support Monomoy Dollars for Scholars, but not as many do in Harwich yet. We'd like to build up the Harwich base, enabling us to take care of all the kids equally. This is the first year that we have the James Baran Scholarship again, and it is wonderful.”
In the July 7, 1988 edition of his column of environmental observations, Tidewater Journal, titled “Passion for Wild Things,” Baran wrote that he “had the pleasure of meeting and conversing with many wonderful people. And a great many of these individuals seem to share our undying passion for wild things and wild places, backyard birding and vegetable gardening, and exploring the tidewaters that surround the Cape.”
Chronicle managing editor William F. Galvin recalls working with Baran, whose Tidewater Journal column appeared monthly from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s. Along with writing the column, Baran worked as a Chatham police officer and ran his own animal rescue business.
“Jim had great insight and was really observant, a real gentleman,” Galvin remembers. “He left when he became ill, and we sadly lost him to cancer. At that time Hank (Chronicle publisher Henry Hyora) decided to honor him by sponsoring a scholarship in his name. Jim was a great person to know and spend time with. He always had interesting insights, especially about the natural world around us. I always enjoyed his columns. I am glad the scholarship was resurrected as the schools merged.”
Sheila Smith worked with Baran during her time at The Chronicle as advertising sales manager.
“He was a quiet, brave man who loved his family and loved his daughters. Knowing a man like that was very rewarding,” Smith recalls. “He was a kind, gentle man. I think of him often. He was wonderful. I admired Jim.”
This is the second year of post-regionalization awards for graduates of Monomoy Regional High School by Monomoy Dollars from Scholars, and the total amount awarded has already increased from year one to year two, providing $105,900 to 50 2016 graduates. Every senior who applied received something, with the lowest total $1,000.
Thacher, who in addition to the James Baran Memorial Scholarship also received the Mary E. Courtnell Memorial for $2,000 and the Polhemus Savery DaSilva scholarship for $1,000, has a message for local business owners who have sponsored scholarships for Monomoy Dollars for Scholars, as well as for any business owners who are considering doing so in the future.
“If I was able to say one thing I would say that it is so appreciated,” Thacher says. “The businesses should know that I sent thank you notes the very next day to the businesses which sponsored my scholarships. I was floored. I want them to know how truly grateful we are. Every little bit helps. There is a lot of appreciation.”