High school students looking for financial assistance to help offset college expenses are eligible for $7,500 in scholarships when they enter the KEVN Black Hills FOX Rising Star of the West Scholarship contest. With generous support from Monument Health, the contest—now in its fourteenth year—rewards $4,000 in college scholarship money to the first-place winner, $2,000 for second place, $1,000 for third place, and $500 for fourth place.

The contest was the brainchild of former KEVN station owner Bill Raynor, who wanted to do a scholarship program. He enlisted the aid of Jack Caudill, whose career with the station dates back to 1983. Jack, currently serving as Assistant News Director for KEVN and KOTA, came up with the format, fine-tuning it over the years.

Here’s how it works: students who wish to participate must submit a brief video (no more than one minute) in which they talk about any subject they feel strongly about. A studio panel will select 20 contestants to advance to the semi-finals; that group will then record commentaries in the KEVN Black Hills FOX studios that will air on news broadcasts and the website. Viewers and staff will vote for their favorites; the four students with the highest combined weekly scores will move on to the finals. They will then record four new commentaries on topics chosen by the station, e.g., “Why is it important for young people to be involved in politics?”

Narrowing down the finalists is always a challenge, according to Jack—especially when entries flood in at the last minute. “One year we only had two submissions the day before the contest, and I thought we were going to have to cancel it,” Jack says. “The next day, we got dozens more.”

In order to have a shot at the scholarship money, students must submit their videos, along with an entry form, to KEVN Black Hills FOX by February 21. Entries may be mailed, emailed, or dropped off in person. Keep in mind that the contest isn’t limited to graduating seniors; all students in grades 9-12 are eligible to enter. Should an underclassman be chosen, their scholarship money will be set aside until they enroll in college.

For a complete list of the rules, visit the KEVN Black Hills FOX website.

WORDS: MARK PETRUSKA