The Partnership 2017 Scholars

FRONT ROW (L TO R) Rosie Emmenderfer, Partnership director, Samantha Alepra, Hannah Doty, Kendra Cherry, Emily Barylske, Seth Korunka, Rayanne Thompson, Mari Katich, Emily Elizondo

SECOND ROW (L TO R) Mya Sudmeier, Aubree Borror, Amanda Schmidt, Teran Schlechte, MacKenzie Ikerman, Ethan Blevins, Liberty Hartley, Don Throne, Partnership director

THIRD ROW (L TO R) Chase Vermillion, Allison Bires, Zachary Carr, Trevor Fredericks, Tate Wargo, Daniel Dobrino, Nicholas Wyatt, Chandler McDaniel, Jace Timmermeier

May 21, 2017 - Gillespie, Illinois - A full 26 percent of Gillespie High School graduating seniors were awarded $1,000 tuition scholarships by The Partnership for Educational Excellence on its 25th anniversary. Every dollar of these awards came from local individuals, businesses, alums, and foundations. And thanks to its partners’ ongoing generosity, for the second year The Partnership was able to raise the amounts to $1,000 each.

The 23 Gillespie High School (GHS) scholars received $500 each from named memorial scholarships and a matching $500 from The Partnership’s general funds. The awards were presented by Partnership directors Don Throne and Rosie Emmenderfer during commencement ceremonies on Sunday, May 21, 2017.

"Thanks to 25 years of loyal support from hundreds of donors, we can recognize these 23 excellent students and give them a little extra help furthering their educations," says John Fassero, Jr., president of The Partnership. "This year’s life essays once again show clear setting of realistic goals. The letters of recommendation reveal young people who have earned the respect of the adults in their lives for their hard work, community involvement, and proven ability to accomplish goals. We are proud of the small role we may play in their future successes" says Fassero, a founding director.

"Our scholarships are not large, because we want to recognize the greatest number of students," says Fassero. "And parents over the years have told us that the tuition payment does help their students during first semester." The funds are paid directly to the colleges.

This year a total of $23,000 was awarded. To date the Partnership has awarded $215,500 in tuition scholarships to 393 graduates of Gillespie High School. 

In addition, The Partnership again administered two $100 cash awards from the estate of Evaline Boehmke for musicianship in band and chorus.

This year’s scholars and their awards are:

THE DR. D. ROSS AND MRS. ROSEMARY BILLITER SCHOLARSHIP.  This scholarship was instituted by the Billiters to thank the many area residents who supported Dr. Billiter’s practice as general surgeon at St. Francis Hospital for many years. 

Jace Timmermeier, son of Jeff and Tracy Timmermeier of rural Litchfield. He will attend Lakeland Community College in Mattoon, Illinois, to study civil engineering technology.

CARROLL-KEUPPER SCHOLARSHIP established by the late Rosemary Keupper Valle and her sister Lillian Keupper in honor of their families who have been involved in medicine, world health, and banking/finance. Their grandfather Anthony Carroll, a member of the Gillespie school board, initiated strong family support for the local school system and its students. 

Emily Elizondo, daughter of Christopher and Lori Elizondo of Gillespie, who will attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to study chemical engineering.

ELINOR DAVIES NURSING SCHOLARSHIP by friends and family in honor of Elinor who served many decades as school nurse in CUSD#7. Elinor was active in the United Methodist Church.

Liberty Hartley, daughter of Melissa and Donald Hartley of Gillespie, who will attend Lewis and Clark Community College to study nursing.

ANDREW EASTON, JR. MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIPA teacher and coach for more than 20 years, his passion was to motivate his students and athletes to achieve to their highest level. He was a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the group that funded this scholarship.

Amanda Schmidt, daughter of Weye and Nancy Schmidt of Gillespie, who will attend Illinois State University in Normal to study business administration.

DANNY GRIFFEL MEMORIAL AGRICULTURE SCHOLARSHIP by family and friends. Danny, a Korean Conflict veteran, was honored in 2009 for continuous ownership and operation of the family farm since 1856. He was active in a number of civic, benevolent, and recreational organizations. His son David serves on the CUSD7 school board; his daughter Donna Easton is a school nurse in CUSD7.

Kendra Cherry, daughter of Jon and Christie Cherry of Benld, who will attend Lewis and Clark Community College to prepare to study aerospace engineering.

JOHN AND MARY HICKS SCHOLARSHIP FOR THE TRADES. John, mayor of Gillespie and a local businessman and mayor of Gillespie, and Mary, an active civic volunteer, offer this award in memory of Floyd and Betty Hicks. "My dad’s dad saw the honor of working with your own two hands," says John. 

Chase Vermillion, son of Joe Vermillion and Brian and Brenda Doty of Gillespie, who will attend Lewis and Clark Community College to study sports broadcasting.

JULIA KRAVANYA MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP by family and friends. Born in Scotland, she married Anton J. Kravanya in1942 in Gillespie. They raised two children, Fran now Mrs. Mike Slapak of South Carolina, and Tony, who operates Kravanya Funeral Homes with his wife Marilyn, Julia’s grandson Anthony and granddaughter Lyn in Gillespie, Benld, and Bunker Hill. Another grandson Nicholas is a dentist in Carlinville. 

Rayanne Thompson, daughter of Suzy Foret and Brian Thompson of Gillespie, who will attend Lewis and Clark Community College to study dental hygiene.

JOSEPH and EILEEN LIBBRA MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP. Married for 48 years, they were hard working grain and livestock farmers and dedicated to their four children, Mary, Joe, Trish, and Carol, and their ten grandchildren. 

MacKenzie Ikerman, daughter of Jeff and Wendy Ikerman of Gillespie, who will attend Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau to study nursing.

HENRY MARCACCI MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP by friends and family. Hank taught business in CUSD#7 for 33 years and served as county superintendent of schools for 8 years. He and his wife Lucille raised seven children. Hank died at age 101 on January 25, 2011. A granddaughter was a past Partnership scholar.

Hannah Doty, daughter of Christy Blank and Brian Doty of Gillespie, who will attend Lewis and Clark Community College to study science and pre-K education.

DENIS McGRADY SR. MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP established in loving memory by family. Denis graduated from the University of Illinois Commerce and Law program, returned to Gillespie to raise nine children, and to practice law for almost 50 years. In addition to valuing education, Denis loved roses and trees, his garden becoming a destination for GHS botany field trips.

Chandler McDaniel, son of Staci and David McDaniel of Gillespie, who will attend McKendree University in Lebanon, Illinois, to study to become an actuary.

LANA ODORIZZI MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP by Anonymous, friends, and family. Mrs. O, as most of her students called her, was a beloved elementary school P.E. teacher and middle- and high school volleyball coach for 13 years in CUSD7. She also coached softball, track, soccer, little league, gymnastics and taught fitness and swimming to hundreds of local children. 

Zachary Carr, son of Dana and Todd Skinner and Bob Carr of Gillespie, who will attend Illinois State University in Normal to study business management.

BETTY OLIVE MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP because of the high value she placed on education. Known for her "green thumb" and prolific flower and vegetable gardens, this native of Alhambra cherished a lifelong dream of becoming a nurse. She focused instead on raising her children – Judy, Kay, Pam, Patti, and Randy, all graduates of CUSD7 – on the farm. 

Aubree Borror, daughter of Keith and Marti Borror of Benld, who will attend Columbia College in Chicago to study interior architecture.

ROBERT M. PREVEDELL MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP Robert lived 94 years as a farmer near Eagarville. Beloved by all for his dignity, good nature, integrity, and generosity, he was a prolific woodworker; veteran house mover; self-taught musician; talented gardener. He was proud of and devoted to his late wife Catherine, his four children (Bob, Toni, Pat, and Pam), seven grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren. 

Teran Schlechte, daughter of Tiffani Pirok and Todd Schlechte of Staunton, who will attend Lewis and Clark Community College to study occupational therapy.

TAMMY ROSENTRETER MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP by family and friends. A U.S. Air Force veteran, she was active in her church and a dedicated teacher. She did it all through her valiant battle against cancer, inspiring Team Tammy fund raisers while maintaining her top priority: her family - husband Jerry and children Josh, Tateum and Tess. 

Samantha Alepra, daughter of Bill and Jenni Alepra of Gillespie, who will attend Lewis and Clark Community College to study art.

TRAVIS SEMPLOWSKI MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP established in loving memory by family and friends. Travis, a graduate of GHS, was a member of Future Farmers of America. He was working as an automotive specialist at WalMart in Litchfield when he died tragically in 2009 at the age of 21. 

Trevor Fredericks, son of Russell and Gina Fredericks of Gillespie, who will attend Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville to study industrial engineering.

JEANETTE DOBRINO SMALL MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP. Her family honors her memory with this scholarship to support the students of CUSD7 where her grandchildren attend school.

Mari Lyn Katich, daughter of Cris and Sheila Katich of Gillespie, will attend Lewis and Clark Community College. She is undecided about her major.

SAM STEWART MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP. Sam was a talented athlete and teacher whose lifelong dedication to sports and education shaped his career in CUSD7 as baseball coach for 30 years as well as basketball and football. "Sam would be pleased. This scholarship is a way of ‘paying it forward,’ in his memory," says his wife, Suzanne. 

Tate Wargo, son of Tim and Julie Wargo of Benld, who will attend Lewis and Clark Community College to study nursing.

TEBBE FAMILY FOUNDATION SCHOLARSHIP for students of computer science and engineering plus many classroom mini-grants have been funded by GHS graduate Mark Tebbe, Class of 1979, founder of Lante Corporation, and his parents Ralph and Rose Marie Tebbe through their family foundation. 

Daniel Dobrino, son of Robert and Diane Dobrino of Benld, who will attend Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville to study computer science.

UMWA Local 1613 SCHOLARSHIP represents coal miners, health care workers, truck drivers, manufacturing employees and public employees in our communities. The union fights for safe workplaces, good wages and benefits, and fair representation in workplaces. 

Allison Bires, daughter of John and Ann Bires of Gillespie, who will attend Southern Illinois University at Carbondale to study mechanical engineering.

MICHAEL VALENTI MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP by friends and family is awarded in loving memory of this 1994 GHS graduate who lost his life in 1999 in a tragic accident. Michael had completed an associate’s degree at Lewis and Clark Community College and was continuing his education at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. 

Emily Barylske, daughter of Cathy and Stanley Barylske of Benld, who will attend McKendree University in Lebanon, Illinois, to study psychology.

MIKE AND PERINA VERTICCHIO SCHOLARSHIP by family. This award was established to recognize the dedication and years of service to the Gillespie school district by Mike and the late Perina Verticchio. Perina was an elementary teacher for many years and Mike was a teacher, coach, and administrator whose education career began as a literacy specialist during World War II.

Nicholas Wyatt, son of James and Kasey Wyatt of Gillespie, who will attend Lewis and Clark Community College to study chemistry.

VFW AUXILIARY 4547 SCHOLARSHIPby members. The women of the Auxiliary make this gift in recognition of the importance of education.

Ethan Blevins, son of Greg and Staci Blevins of Gillespie, who will attend Lewis and Clark Community College to study occupational therapy.

LOIS ZANTER MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP by friends and family. Lois was an elementary school teacher and librarian in CUSD7 for 29 years. Devoted to education herself, she was proud that her daughter Gail Niehaus, grandchildren Casey Niehaus and Kara Strode are also dedicated teachers. 

Mya Sudmeier, daughter of John and Joellen Nickel of Gillespie, who will attend the St. Louis Culinary Institute of Hickey College to study culinary arts.

EVALINE BOEHMKE MUSICIANSHIP AWARDS: Evaline (Mrs. Robert) Boehmke, was an ardent supporter of music in CUSD7. She left a bequest for $100 cash awards for students to be selected by the music faculty of Gillespie High School for outstanding musicianship in GHS band and chorus. This year the Band and Chorus winners are the same person: Seth Korunka.