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Albion will start annual scholarship in memory of Jason Johnston, soldier killed in Afghanistan

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 February 2017 at 12:02 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers: Jenny Johnston holds a portrait of her son, Jason, after it was presented to the family on July 27, 2015 by the Patriot Guard Riders.

ALBION – The Albion Board of Education approved a new scholarship on Monday that will honor the memory of Jason Johnston, the only soldier from Orleans County killed in combat in Afghanistan.

Johnston was 24 when he was killed on Dec. 26, 2009 in Arghandab, Afghanistan. He died from wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

Spc. Johnston was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.

Jason was active in the Explorer program through the Albion Fire Department. His father Brad was an active leader with the youth explorer program, and Jason’s mother Jenny also volunteered with the Fire Department.

The scholarship will be $1,000 annually. It is being funded by the Albion Elks Riders with Tim Keller and Mike Reigle leading the effort. (The Elks Riders have an annual ride in Johnston’s memory in August.)

The scholarship will be awarded to a graduating senior pursuing a career where they can help others, such as a nurse, doctor, firefighter, counselor or other social services.

“The recipient of the award should be of good character, show dedication, effort and potential while working to the best of their,” according to a description of the scholarship provided by the Elks.

“Specialist Johnston believed in the Golden Rule – ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’”

Albion High School students line East Avenue in front of the school during the funeral procession for Jason Johnston on Jan. 5, 2010.

Scholarship applicants need to write an essay about why they believe in the Golden Rule and how they have demonstrated this belief in his or her life.

The $1,000 scholarship will be presented at class night with funds awarded after successful completion of first semester in college.

The Board of Education on Monday also approved a change in an annual $1,500 scholarship in memory of Robert Van Deusen, a former primary school principal in Albion who passed away at age 91 on Sept. 26, 2016. The scholarship was started in 1983. It will now continue through the Albion Alumni Foundation rather than being managed by the school district. The scholarship is awarded to a student who worked with young children, perhaps through Scouting. The scholarship winner needs to be working towards a career in human services, such as teaching or nursing.

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