By: Sharon Aron Baron
A scholarship has been started not only to honor Scott Beigel but the 17 victims who were senselessly killed on February 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Originally from Long Island, New York, Beigel, 35, was a geography teacher and cross country coach who was shot and killed after unlocking his door and letting students in to hide from the gunman.
The family of one of Scott Beigel’s summer campers, Rob Yormack and his wife Bonnie, started the scholarship in Beigel’s name. A Long Island resident and 1995 University of Florida graduate, Rob said he had a connection with him through his daughter Stephanie who attended Camp Starlight each year in Pennsylvania where Beigel was a counselor.
He recalls the day he found out about the shooting. Stephanie was upset and angry to find out Beigel was one of the many victims who been shot. At the time, they didn’t know he wouldn’t survive.
“We found out he didn’t survive the next morning,” said Rob. “I didn’t want her to find out first on social media, so I went in her room and told her, and she was very upset about it.”
Stephanie described Beigel, the counselor as “the nicest guy…so funny” who she believed she would see once again at camp.
Rob said that a couple of weeks later, the camp had a memorial and had to change the venue several times as so many people were coming to pay their respects.
“I felt like I was the only one in there who didn’t have an intimate connection with him. There were campers, counselors, and so many people he had a connection with. It was an emotional thing – and respectful.”
At that memorial, he met Scott Beigel’s mother Linda Beigel Schulman and expressed his condolences to her.
Rob said, “She spent some time with me, and it was there I found out Scott went to my high school, Half Hollow Hills East.”
In the weeks after the memorial, Rob and his family continued to have conversations about Beigel in their home, and his daughter kept asking him, “What can we do? We should be able to do something in memory of him or the event.”
He had an idea about what they could do. Although it didn’t change or fix what happened, it would allow his school, the University of Florida, to show support. He and his wife Bonnie approached UF about a scholarship in Scott’s name that they will fund in perpetuity. It would begin with two students each year being awarded $1,000 each.
Beigel’s mother Linda Schulman thought the scholarship was a wonderful idea.
“He had approached me and asked me, and has kept me apprised of everything,” said Schulman. It’s a wonderful way to give back. He loved his students, but his cross country team was everything.”
She said Scott taught his students about life and about working hard. He even taught himself how to run.
He would call her and tell her stories about the students, and she even knew them by name. By the time she met them, she could put their stories and faces together.
He loved these kids and told me, “I have the most dedicated students on my team.”
Students can apply with their guidance office. However, by the time they are accepted at the school, they will have an online application. Preference will be given to students in the following order:
- First preference goes to a student who graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland who participated in the school’s cross country team.
- Second preference goes to a student from Marjory Stoneman Douglas who participated on the track team.
- Third preference goes to a student who graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas.
- Fourth preference goes to a student who graduated from Half Hollow Hills High School East in Suffolk County, New York, who participated in the school’s cross country team.
- Fifth preference goes to a student who graduated from Half Hollow Hills High School.
- Sixth preference goes to a student who graduated from a high school in Broward County, Florida.
Rob said there is no way you can turn the massacre into something good, but they tried to take something that was horrific and do something nice for others. “These kids are going to have this hanging over their heads in some capacity.”
Schulman said, “Scott is beaming wherever he is because these are the students who deserve this.”
Applications will be open in the Spring for the scholarship. To donate to the UF Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School scholarship in memory of Scott Beigel go here: Scholarship in Memory of Scott Beigel.