Wednesday is deadline to apply for Rod Bennett Memorial Scholarships

A ghost bike and memorial artifacts mark the spot on Placerita Canyon Road just east of Highway 14 where teacher and musician Rod Bennett was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver on May 25, 2016. Photos by Stephen K. Peeples

The deadline for graduating seniors to apply for one of the two Rod Bennett Memorial Scholarships, created to honor life and legacy of Santa Clarita musician and teacher Rod Bennett, is Wednesday, Feb. 1 at 3 p.m.

The $2,000 scholarships are available for graduating seniors from the William S. Hart Union High School District.

To be eligible to apply, Hart District seniors must have studied in a Hart District music program for at least two years, preferably at Arroyo Seco Junior High School and/or Saugus High School, and plan to attend a two- or four-year college.

Those who are intend to pursue a degree in music and/or education will have preference.  To apply, visit, select “apply,” download the application and return the completed application to one’s high school counseling department by 3 p.m. Wednesday.

The scholarships will be awarded to two students at their high schools’ Senior Award ceremonies by the Santa Clarita Valley Scholarship Foundation in May.

Arroyo Seco Junior High School band instructor Rod Bennett at Disney Performing Arts Center, spring 2016. Courtesy Valerie Pryor.

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 Placerita Canyon Road

In early-November, the driver, 28-year-old Lucas James Guidroz was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Bennett’s wife, Valerie Pryor, set up Rod Bennett Memorial Scholarship Trust Fund in December 2016 to carry on Bennett’s legacy of teaching as division of the non-profit Charitysmith Nonprofit Foundation.

“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.

Since the creation of the trust, Pryor said supporters, friends and family have already made generous donations to the scholarship fund.

“It’s heartening to know how much the community cared for Rod, and I’m very grateful,” Pryor said in a press release.

To make a contribution to the Rod Bennett Memorial Scholarship Trust Fund, visit and select “donate now.”

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