For 85 years Hutchinson High School students have strived for the Young American Award, the school’s most prestigious prize. Now, with the Oswald family’s endowed fund for the award, it’s certain to continue for every graduating class in the future.
The award began in 1929 when A. Lewis Oswald, class of 1917, saw an opportunity to inspire the student body by honoring one student who represented the ideal young American. In those first years, he recruited his law partner William Mitchell to help sponsor the award.
“It used to be the only award at HHS,” said Oswald’s granddaughter Patsy Lovett, who now guides the selection process. “He wanted the students, faculty, and alumni to decide who in the senior class was best of the best—in character, academics, activities, everything they did.”
Oswald’s sons John and Charles, along with their extended families, continued the tradition after he passed away, eventually making the award permanent through an endowment housed at Hutchinson Community Foundation. It was established with an initial gift from the Oswald Family Foundation, and a portion of Liz and John Oswald’s estate gift will round out the fund. Another portion of their gift will create the Liz & John Oswald Fund for Hutchinson, which will be pooled to help make Fund for Hutchinson grants each year.
“They get a mammoth trophy and a personal check for $1,000 to spend any way they choose,” said Patsy. “That way it’s really an award rather than a scholarship.”