Rentavious Buffington, 18, exudes the kind of spirit and enthusiasm that makes it easy to see why the Gainesville High School class of 1964 chose him as their first recipient of a newly established college scholarship worth $1,500.
Buffington greets strangers with a hearty handshake, wears a big, generous grin when speaking to them, and vibes with confidence as he shares his family’s story, his love for the performing arts and his excitement about his studies at the University of North Georgia in Gainesville, where he’s now enrolled.
Patricia Fargason, a member of the class of ’64, said Buffington, who graduated from GHS last May, was the “most perfect candidate” for the scholarship. She described the young man as accomplished and popular.
Buffington admits that he was surprised to be awarded the scholarship, but he now sees himself as an ambassador and role model for future recipients.
“It was kind of a big deal,” he said.
The North Georgia Community Foundation in Gainesville administers more than 50 scholarships established by individual donors and organizations, including the “GHS Class of ’64 Scholarship.”
According to the NGCF website, “Each scholarship has its own specific purpose and eligibility criteria, and awards vary in size depending on the amount available in each particular fund.”
Buffington said he was researching local scholarships when he came across the class of ’64 offer.
“I was trying to find the best way to pay for college,” he added.
Buffington thought he fit the scholarship’s qualifications and was a strong candidate, but admits that he never allowed himself to believe he’d be chosen.
“I just applied for it, and when they told me I received the scholarship, I was really surprised,” he said.
Buffington said he thinks his involvement in theater and other extracurricular activities at GHS is what earned him the scholarship because he showed that he was giving back to the school that gave him so much.
Buffington has carried his love for acting and theater production to UNG, where he is focused on the technical aspects of lighting that can give any performance its aura and aesthetic.
It’s an important role, one he learned and developed at GHS. Good lighting, though perhaps unnoticed by some audiences, can bring out so much in a story. And Buffington likes working behind the scenes.
“You put a lot more work in,” Buffington said of the step up from high school theater to college.
Of course, Buffington loves the acting part, too. He once played the Tin Man in a production of “The Wizard of Oz,” his favorite all-time role.
Buffington also served in a distinguished role as a student officer for the annual Georgia Thespian Conference, which features high school theater group performances.
And he paired his class of ’64 scholarship with the Pam Ware Leadership Scholarship, worth $2,000 and awarded to a thespian “who best illustrates through the troupe resume and interview outstanding leadership ... by putting into action the dedication to excellence and the drive to succeed so lovingly and professionally modeled by legendary director Pam Ware.”
“I just got involved in a lot more as I progressed,” Buffington said.
To learn more about scholarship funds managed by the North Georgia Community Foundation in Gainesville, visit www.ngcf.org/scholarships/view-scholarships/