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Graduates show they "AppreCCiate" socioeconomic diversity at commencement

Usually, the graduates are on the receiving end at commencement. So it was surprising on Monday, May 22, when cap-and-gown-clad student after student shook hands with Colorado College President Richard F. Celeste - and, while casually patting his shoulder or arm, taped a dollar bill on his robe before accepting the diploma. As more diplomas were handed out, the collection of dollar bills grew, covering Celeste's shoulders, back, chest, even his own mortar board, dangling in a chain of greenbacks that rivaled his cap's tassel.

The barrage of bucks was an impromptu fund-raiser, benefiting the student-initiated AppreCCiate Scholarship, which was created during the academic year by graduating seniors Ari Stiller-Shulman and Robin Dunn to provide need-based student financial aid and promote socioeconomic diversity at Colorado College.

"AppreCCiate raises awareness among current students about economic diversity at Colorado College and about the disparity between people of different economic backgrounds in attending institutions of higher education," the AppreCCiate web site states. "AppreCCiate encourages Colorado College students to stop and consider the value of their education here and challenges them to show their appreciation by beginning the lifelong habit of giving back to Colorado College."

Stiller-Shulman and Dunn spread their message throughout the academic year, generating hundreds of gifts from students in all four classes. The two men will depart August 15 on a cross-country bicycle tour to raise even more money for the scholarship fund. They topped off these plans by masterminding the commencement gift.

Once all of the diplomas were handed out, Celeste was adorned with $378 in bills, one of them a $10 note from Barbados. Celeste, who dubbed the stunt "Pin the Dollar on Dick," announced he'd match the amount. Later, a graduating senior wrote out a check for $200, and two pairs of parents contributed more, making the grand total of the morning's generosity a cool $1,048.25.

Up until commencement, about 40% of the CC student body donated to AppreCCiate, contributing about $4,500. Through fund matching and support from the college alumni association's development committee, the scholarship fund is expected to have about $15,000 by the end of the next academic year. See the AppreCCiate web site.

Celeste received more than money on Monday. He arrived at CC the same year as this year's graduating seniors. Balin Anderson, president of the class, made that bond official when she presented to Celeste a special certificate making him an honorary member of the Class of 2006.

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