Fremd Class of '75 nearing goal for anti-bullying scholarships

  • Pamela Olander set up the John Trout Anti-Bullying Scholarship at Fremd High School in honor of her classmate, John Trout, who was bullied in high school.

      Pamela Olander set up the John Trout Anti-Bullying Scholarship at Fremd High School in honor of her classmate, John Trout, who was bullied in high school. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Updated 5/6/2015 5:59 AM

Fremd High School's Class of 1975 is closing in on its $10,000 goal to fund an anti-bullying scholarship it intends to award two members of this year's graduating class in the name of a late classmate who was bullied 40 years ago.

As of the original May 1 deadline, Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 had received $8,684 for the John Trout Anti-Bullying Scholarship created in hopes of bringing more meaning to this summer's Class of '75 reunion.


Palatine resident Pamela Olander, who spearheaded the fundraiser in the wake of a passionate email sent to the class by fellow member Mark Filosa, said the deadline is being extended to Friday, May 15, to help support two $5,000 scholarships for the Class of '15.

Olander said she's proud of how much progress her classmates have made.

"I wish I had more time to promote this," she said.

The fundraiser must also raise an additional 5 percent administrative fee for the school district's work tracking it, banking it, sending out tax receipts and facilitating it with the school, Olander said.

One scholarship will be awarded anonymously to a student who suffered bullying during his or her time at Fremd. The other will recognize a student who significantly stood up to bullying.

Both a boy and a girl will be the winners selected by a small committee of faculty members. The publicly recognized winner will be named at the Class of 2015's Honors Convocation Tuesday, May 26.

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The scholarship is named after John Trout, who suffered extensive bullying during his years at Fremd. He died four years ago from a heart attack.

Though undiagnosed as a student, Trout exhibited behavior that today would be considered consistent with high-functioning autism, Olander said.

The scholarship idea sprang from Filosa's email urging classmates to remember Trout among other, more popular members of the class as they prepared for their reunion. Filosa is an attorney in New Mexico who said he is unlikely to make the late August reunion.

Olander said she's prepared a bio of Trout, which she hopes will show winners of the scholarship how he was able to rise above the bad behavior that victimized him.

"I want the students to know who Johnny Trout was," she said.

During his time at Fremd, Trout was a frequent target of bullies who learned that his difficulties with auditory processing meant they could terrorize him by making loud hissing noises.

But Trout strived to become better, not bitter, and earned a degree at Rockford College, enabling him to open a small but successful accounting firm in Palatine, Olander said.

Those wishing to donate to the scholarship fund can mail a check to Township High School District 211, Attn: Becky, 1750 S. Roselle Road, Palatine IL 60067. Include at least the name "John Trout" on the memo of the check.

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