Correction:Rod Bennett’s name has been corrected in this updated version.
A new scholarship fund, named to honor the life and legacy of Santa Clarita musician and teacher Rod Bennett, will help graduating students in the William S. Hart Union High School District attend the college of their choice.
Created by Bennett’s wife, Valerie Pryor, the Rod Bennett Memorial Scholarship Trust Fund was set up to help graduating seniors in the Hart District fund their college careers.
It is set to officially launch in January 2017.
Bennett, 53, was an Arroyo Seco Junior High School band director, music teacher and math teacher, who was beloved by both his wife and his students.
On May 25, 2016, Bennett was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver while he was riding his bicycle in Newhall on Placertia Canyon Road.
In early-November, the driver, 28-year-old Lucas James Guidroz, was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
As a teacher at Arroyo Seco, Bennett opened his classroom to students during lunch and after school to host an informal “rock club” where students could practice and play.
“As a math and music teacher, Rod gave so much to the Santa Clarita community, and I want to honor him by continuing to give in his name,” Pryor said in a press release. “Music and teaching meant so much to him, and teaching the students music and seeing them discover and grow in music meant a lot to him. I want to continue his contributions to the community.”
In addition to his teaching career, Bennett was a performing and recording musician, sportsman, traveler and wine connoisseur, interests he shared with Pryor.
Bennett and Pryor met in 1985 while attending University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and playing in the marching band. They married seven years later in 1992.
Pryor will inaugurate the Rod Bennett Memorial Music Scholarship Trust Fund in May with two $2,000 scholarships awarded by the Santa Clarita Valley Scholarship Foundation at school-site Senior Awards.
Community members can also contribute to the scholarship trust fund at RodBennettMemorialFund.org by selecting the “donate now” button.
“That way, others whose lives Rod touched, or who want to support the kind of music mentoring he did, can donate to the scholarship trust fund as well,” Pryor said in a press release. “I will also continue to donate to the fund, and as it grows, I can offer additional scholarships.”
Hart District 2017 graduating seniors can find an application for the scholarships at scvsf.org. Applications must be completed and returned to the student’s high school counseling department of attendance no later than 3 p.m. Feb. 1, 2017.
Eligible students for the inaugural grants include those who spent at least two years in a Hart District music program in the high school band, preferable at Arroyo Seco or Saugus High School, who plan to continue their education at a two or four year college.
Preference will be given to those who intent to pursue a major in music or music education.
“My hope, my mission, is that through these students, and with the generosity and support of this trust fund by those who cared for Rod, his legacy will continue to make music for generations,” Pryor said in a press release.
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