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Dickens Legacy Continues Through Scholarships

POSTED May 8, 2009 12:00 p.m.
In just over a calendar year the lives of the family members of Oakdale High teacher Mark Dickens have been turned upside down, yet the perseverance of the Dickens family continues on with the announcing of a pair of Mark Dickens Scholarship Funds.
Mark Dickens passed away April 17 after a 14-month battle with brain cancer, but his name — and the legacy he leaves behind at OHS —will live on in two scholarships going out to Oakdale students that have a genuine interest in becoming more adept in two areas of Dickens’ life that were dear to his heart.
“Mark always had a passion for math and baseball,” explained his wife, Mila Dickens. “We wanted to honor him in a way that exemplified what his two passions were in terms of his career.”
The two areas will have close to $8000 to split amongst a Mark Dickens Baseball Fund as well as a Mark Dickens Math Scholarship. The math awards will be five $1000 scholarship awards to students who are working to reach their peak in the classroom.
“The math scholarships are for students who are not receiving any other scholarships,” Mila said. “The students must have an interest in improving their math skills. These will be for kids who maybe come in during lunch time to learn math better.”
The Oakdale baseball program currently has the Hustle for the Future scholarship award, handed out to players who have been chosen for the assistance.
Mila Dickens said there is nearly $3000 to divide amongst the 2009 winners of the award in memory of Mark, with plans of combining the two fractions and renaming the scholarship for the class of 2010, which is Mark’s freshman graduating class.
Funds for the scholarship will be increased with proceeds from the upcoming Oakdale Baseball Dugout Clubs 2nd Annual fundraising dinner, set for Saturday, May 9 at the Gladys Lemmons Senior Center.
The $30 dinner will begin at 6 p.m. with featured guest, former head coach of Fresno State Baseball Bob Bennett set to speak a 7:15 p.m. A silent auction will be conducted with the entire proceeds going to the scholarship fund.
“Last year we were able to raise about $5000 through the auction items,” Oakdale baseball head coach Hondo Arpoika said. “I would love to see it get to $8000, $10000, somewhere in there.”
The joint effort seems to be the most recent in a long line of people trying to make good on a horrible situation.
“We just jumped all over this,” Arpoika said of the scholarship. “What he stood for and what he was about is all of the things we’ve emphasized with our kids here at Oakdale.”

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