The story began in July of 2004 when John Benson retired from teaching, after serving a distinguished 39 year career at James A. Garfield High School (“GHS”) in East Los Angeles. Among his accomplishments were coaching back-to-back girls’ volleyball City Championship teams, one girls’ softball City Championship and the creator of “Almost Anything Goes,” which turned East Los Angeles into a three-ring circus from 1976 through 1983. John Benson served as the yearbook advisor for 10 years, authored two books dealing with educational gaming strategies and conducted numerous workshops regarding the benefits of utilizing games in the classroom.

At his retirement celebration the Class of 1968, represented by Linda Cuadra (Class of 68), Carlos Venegas (Class of 68), Ralph Moran (Class of 68) and Frances Salazar (Class of 68) presented John Benson with a $1,000 check, which was to be used for a scholarship that would be given in his name. Since 2004, thirteen GHS alumni have joined the five original founding members of the committee. Through donations and fundraisers, this original gift has grown into scholarships totaling more than $225,000 that have benefited 238 deserving GHS graduates. What makes our scholarship unique is that we are looking for deserving scholar athletes who are committed to giving back to the community upon completion of their college education.

The following is a timeline depicting the growth of the foundation:

2004 – Scholarship created
2005 – $3,500 awarded among 5 recipients
2006 – $12,000 awarded among 18 recipients
2007 – $24,000 awarded among 24 recipients
2008 – $31,000 awarded among 31 recipients
2009 – $34,000 awarded among 32 recipients
2010 – $8,000 awarded among 16 recipients
2011 – $27,500 awarded among 37 recipients
2012 – $40,500 awarded among 33 recipients
2013 – $45,500 awarded among 42 recipient

Annual John Benson Scholarship Foundation Golf Tournament at the Montebello Country Club, which will be our primary fundraiser for this school year.