YOUR HOMETOWN — LURAY: Scholarship To Honor Principal’s Legacy

Fund In David Ponn’s Name To Aid Luray High Grads

Posted: January 16, 2013

LURAY — Five months after David Ponn’s death, his name still reverberates through the halls at Luray High School.

Plans are under way for a scholarship in his name to be awarded to two Luray High students at the end of this year.

Ponn, a Luray graduate himself, served as a teacher, basketball coach, athletic director and assistant principal before taking the school’s head position a decade ago.

This school year would have market Ponn’s 10th year as principal. Ponn succumbed to cancer in August at the age of 49.

Don Ehlers, the current athletic director, said he came into the AD position just after Ponn left it.

“We spent a great deal of time together. You work with someone for 24 years and you get to be very close,” Ehlers said. “I miss him a lot.”

Steve Johnson, a business teacher at Luray, said he knew Ponn since high school in the 1970s. After graduating, they both commuted together to Eastern Mennonite University.

“Then we both came back here as teachers. We were best friends,” Johnson said. “He was just great to work with. He would do anything for anybody.”

Pride in the community and the high school basketball team was part of what brought Ponn back to Luray after college, according to Johnson.

“He was a coach first and foremost,” he said. “He had multiple chances to take offers elsewhere, many with more pay.”

Ponn also turned down opportunities to enter administrative opportunities at the division level.

“He said, ‘I’m not going anywhere. I love these teachers and I’m not leaving.’ And he never did. He wanted to stay principal,” Johnson said.

Many also remembered his strong relationship with his students.

“He loved the kids,” said Randy Thomas, acting principal for Luray High. “He stayed in touch with them [after they graduated].”

Johnson recalled the last senior trip that Ponn went on with the students to Florida after he had just had knee surgery.

“He couldn’t get around very well,” Johnson said. “The senior class got together and bought him a very expensive walking cane with a steel bulldog at the head.”

The David E. Ponn Scholarship, according to Thomas, will provide money for two students to use toward their education, whether for tuition, books or fees.

Officials have not yet decided how much money each student will receive from the scholarship. Much of that will depend on how much is raised. But the application process will begin in March, and the winners will be announced at the school’s awards ceremony in May.

“We’ve gotten a very good response to the scholarship,” said Thomas, who noted that it will continue for at least five years based on the donations that have already come in. He would not say how much has been raised so far.

Thomas said Ponn’s family will likely be consulted when choosing the scholarship winners.

“Dave [would want] someone who needs the money and who will use it wisely toward their education. He was a lifelong educator,” Thomas said.

Ehler agreed, saying that Ponn would not necessarily want the funds awarded to the highest academic-achieving students.

“[He would want] kids who are extra hardworking, a regular kid that just excelled and went above and beyond,” he said.

“He’d want somebody who did a little bit of everything,” Johnson said.

Thomas said the David E. Ponn Scholarship Fund will continue as long as the funds hold out. Anyone wishing to donate may mail payments to Luray High School at: 243 Bulldog Drive, Luray, VA 22835.

Contact Kaitlin Mayhew at 574-6290 or

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