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Melrose Park Seniors Get $11.5M In Scholarship, Grant Offers

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A mortarboard sits atop a graduation gown. (Credit: AP)

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MELROSE PARK, Ill. (CBS) – The 93 students in the 2012 graduating class of Walther Lutheran High School are sorting through grant and scholarship offers — $11.5 million of them.

In fact, 70 of the 93 are weighing multiple scholarship and grant offers.

The principal of the school, in Melrose Park, credits teamwork.

“I don’t think that stuff happens by accident,” said principal Jim Craven. “That’s planned.”

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports

Craven cites one student who is trying to choose between full rides to the University of Arizona and UCLA.

The schools accepting other students range from local liberal arts schools, such as Concordia University and Wheaton College, to public universities throughout Illinois and beyond and other out-of-state schools that include Duke University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

He said counselors work with each student, many Walther students take extra Saturday classes teaching specifically how to succeed on standardized tests, said students are given practice tests as a group and said they are told to apply early.

The focus in now on the junior class. He said Walther’s two-person guidance staff saw to it that all of the seniors had their applications in by October, and he said many of next year’s seniors are ready to apply.

“They’ll start sending those applications out in August,” he said.

The $11.5 million is a record for the school, which has been open since the 1950s. A year ago, he said, the graduating class received $11.3 million in offers, and the 2010 graduating class received $8.7 million.

A total of 68 schools sent representatives to a recent Walther college fair, and Craven said he encourages students from freshman year on to attend them.

“The whole thing is a culturing thing,” he said. “You’re going to college and we’re going to help you figure out how to pay for it.”