Sawyer offers Katrina scholarship


PASS CHRISTIAN, Miss. -- A graduate of a Hurricane Katrina-damaged high school in Mississippi will get a full ride to Southeastern Louisiana University, courtesy of Diane Sawyer.

Sawyer was the Secret Santa this year for her "Good Morning America" co-host, Robin Roberts. Sawyer decided her gift would be a four-year scholarship for a student from Pass Christian High School, where Roberts graduated, to SLU, where Roberts earned her college degree.

The scholarship will be awarded to a yet-to-be-named student at Pass Christian's graduation in the spring. (Sue Matheson, superintendent of the Pass Christian School District, said district officials and people from "Good Morning America" will develop criteria for the award.)

"I've been carrying on so wildly about not giving 'things' anymore," Sawyer said. "So I'm not going to give a 'thing.' This is for you."

Sawyer and Roberts were moved to tears Tuesday during the on-air gift exchange.

"Education is so important to my family," Roberts told Sawyer. "We've established foundations and scholarships. You're going to change somebody's life. You're amazing."

Roberts grew up in Pass Christian and graduated from the public high school there. Since Katrina, she has visited several times, often bringing donations from different groups.

Pass Christian High School was hit with 18 feet of water and nearly everything inside was ruined when Katrina hit on Aug. 29, 2005. Students were forced to attend class in a nearby elementary school building, starting in October 2005. When the high school building reopened in October 2006, enrollment had dropped to 470 -- about 150 fewer students than before the storm.