BISMARCK, ND (KXNET) — In Tom Hesford’s life, he had often been told that he was a survivor. And now, even after his passing, his mission, too, will survive in the form of a new scholarship program from Bismarck High School.

Tom Hesford was known as a dedicated and beloved educator at BHS for over 30 years in total, having served as both a teacher and principal over time — but he came from extremely humble beginnings.

When he was less than two years old, Tom’s parents divorced. He never saw his father again, and his mother died in childbirth, as did his infant sister. As an orphan, he was taken in by his grandparents and uncles’ families, who were all very poor. Though he would be considered ‘at-risk’ today, Tom was raised by teachers and coaches, he said in a 2004 speech, that truly cared for and encouraged him. They gave him an interest in education, especially coming from his position and knowing the difficulties that came from students in poverty seeking it.

Tom eventually began teaching at BHS in 1967 and served the role for 24 years. After becoming the principal of Century High School and working there for two years, he returned to BHS, where he was admired for his leadership and loyalty to the school. Now, the Tom Hesford Scholarship has been established in honor of his years teaching the next generation.

Beginning in the spring of 2023, a $1,000 scholarship will be awarded to a graduating senior from Bismarck High School to help fund their continued post-secondary education. The main criteria for the scholarship are as follows:

  • Only BHS Graduating Seniors who plan to attend a 2 or 4-year college or trade school the following year may qualify for the Tom Hesford Memorial Scholarship.
  • Preference is given to students who have overcome adversity or significant life challenges.

The website states that Tom wanted two things above all else: to improve the quality of life for himself and his family and to contribute to helping others improve their own lives. With the annual inclusion of this scholarship, it would appear his legacy will continue for years to come.

For more information about the Tom Hesford Memorial Scholarship, visit this page on the Bismarck Public Schools Foundation’s website.