Promotional Spotlight: Herald Standard’s Scholar Athlete Program

Promotional Spotlight: Herald Standard’s Scholar Athlete Program

Banquets honoring elite high school athletes are a growing trend in communities around the nation, and the same is true in Pennsylvania. One PNA member, the Herald-Standard in Uniontown, has taken this trend a step further and added a unique “spin” of their own. Sharon Wallach, ad director for the Herald-Standard and the Greene County Messenger, is a long-time sports fan – an admitted and avid University of Pittsburgh fan (#Hail2Pitt). Several years ago, she decided to find a way to marry her passion for sports with her work. The answer came in the form of the Herald-Standard Scholar Athlete Program – a 9-month program that rewards students who excel in their scholastic and athletic activities.

What is unique about the Herald-Standard’s program is the meaning behind the word, “scholar”. Each of the 23 area school districts athletic directors choose a male and female athlete who not only excels in their respective sport, but in the classroom as well – requiring a 3.5 or higher GPA for consideration for the program. Each of these outstanding student athletes is then featured on the front page of the Herald-Standard sports section, and students in Greene County are featured in the Greene County Messenger’s sports section as well. In addition, the athletes are featured in videos online and in the weekly entertainment publication GOMagazine with a full-page ad each week. “We really want to congratulate and promote the hard work these kids put into not only their athleticism, but their academics as well,” said Wallach. “It’s important for the students and the community to see the importance of the holistic ‘scholar athlete’ concept.”

But what is a fun program honoring amazing student scholar athletes without a great prize? At the end of the school year, the athletic directors from each of the 23 school districts select 46 elite senior scholar athletes who are invited to attend a banquet for the students and their parents. Each of the students receives an elite scholar backpack and t-shirt, and six of these elite senior scholar athletes are picked at random to be given a set of keys that will allow them the chance to win the grand prize of a new vehicle. The students make their way to the vehicle to try their keys until a set works and the winner is awarded the prize. The car starting event is live streamed on the scholar athlete program tab on the

Another somewhat unique aspect to the Herald-Standard scholar athlete program is that since its inception seven years ago, the program has offered only one exclusive sponsorship option. This exclusive sponsor supplies the grand prize of the new vehicle, and in return they receive a comprehensive and essentially year-long ad campaign with the Herald-Standard and Greene County Messenger. The sponsorship includes weekly full-page ads in GOMagazine and being featured in the Skybox – or the top-front on the newspaper – every time scholar athlete stories are in the paper, or approximately two to three times per week for the duration of the nine-month program. In addition, they receive six full-page ads to be used during the three months of the year that the program is not running.

The scholar athlete program is set to begin its 7th year, and Michael Scott, publisher, says it has spurred on another somewhat similar program in development that will highlight local students who excel in STEAM related programs with an opportunity to receive scholarships and recognition of their work. More information will be coming soon on this new initiative. “We are working with, and for, our youth – athletes, scholars, artists,” said Scott. “These kids are not only the future of the community; they are the future of our papers.”

For additional information, please contact Sharon Wallach at 724-439-7515 or