A full 29 percent of Gillespie High School (GHS) graduating seniors were awarded $1,000 tuition scholarships by The Partnership for Educational Excellence at the culmination of its 25th anniversary celebration. Every dollar of these awards came from local individuals, businesses, alums, and foundations.
Thanks to a generous response to The Partnership’s 25th-anniversary fund drive, $25,000 was raised to support the increase of its scholarships from $500 to $1,000 for each awardee. In addition, the 25th anniversary occasioned the establishment of a remarkable eight new scholarships: Bloome, Cordes, Dewitt, Hebenstreit, H.E.I.D.I., Tallman, VFW 4547 (two were awarded), and Zirkelbach.
MARY FRANCES (MISSY) BLOOME MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP
- Mary Frances (Missy) Bloome attended the 30th reunion of the GHS Class of 1987 in the fall of 2017, shortly before her untimely death. As a memorial to Missy and as a gift to The Partnership, the Class of 1987 honors Missy, the first of their peers to pass away, with a one-time scholarship.
- Olivia VanDoren, daughter of John and Jackie VanDoren of Gillespie, will study cosmetology at the University of Spa and Cosmetology Arts in Springfield, Illinois.
EMIL BORGINI MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP
- Emil Borgini’s career as an educator included time as a teacher of English, history and French in Benld and in Gillespie. He also served as principal of GHS for 20 years and concluded his career as district superintendent. For many years an anonymous donor has made this award possible.
- Jaiden Braundmeier, daughter of Zach and Amber Braudmeier of Benld, will study elementary education at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.
CORDES FAMILY MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP
- Established in 2018 by Pete and Sally Prevedell Seraphin with funds won during The Partnership’s third Grand Raffle, it honors Sally’s maternal ancestors. Fred and Amelia Cordes were known for their enterprise, gardens, and hospitality at their small farm in the Hudson River Valley. Their only son Fred shared these qualities with his wife Ann and daughter Donna after settling in Chicago.
- Maya Marcacci, daughter of Mike and Susan Marcacci of Benld, will study pre-medicine at Lewis and Clark Community College.
ELINOR DAVIES NURSING SCHOLARSHIP
- Established by friends and family – husband Larry and sons Mike and Tim and their families – in honor of Elinor who served many decades as school nurse in CUSD7. She was also an active member of the Gillespie First United Methodist Church.
- Haileigh Rife, daughter of William and Deanna Rife of Gillespie, will study nursing at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois.
CAROL ENRICO DE LUCCA MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIPS FOR A TOP GIRL GRADUATE
- Family and friends endowed the award in memory of this Benld native who was a respected educator and counselor. The daughter of Rose Enrico, Carol established a consulting business to help students pursue their goals through higher education. Her daughters Allison and Ashley live in California.
- Hannah Labby, daughter of Robert and Carol Labby of Eagarville, will study occupational therapy at the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville.
ROGER DEWITT MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP
- An outpouring of memorials for this popular and talented farmer, painter, horse breeder, horticulturist, and musician led his wife Vicki to establish this award. Music – song writing and performing with his band Southern Blend – was the backdrop of his career as a farmer, breeder of American Paint horses, and second career as an artist. Self-taught, he came to art in mid life and developed a passion for depicting the disappearing culture of the rural Midwest and small family farm life.
- William Bertetto, III, son of William and Michelle Bertetto of Benld, will study pre-medicine at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.
ANDREW EASTON, SR. MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP
- Friends and a family filled with teachers set up this award to honor a life-long educator and football coach. He was a devoted mentor to scores of youngsters. “He’d have loved helping the young get their educations,” say wife Florence and children.
- Mackenzie Kasarda, daughter of George and Amy Kasarda of rural Shipman, will study physical therapy at Columbia College in Columbia, Missouri.
DANNY GRIFFEL MEMORIAL AGRICULTURE SCHOLARSHIP
- Danny, a veteran who served in the Army in Korea, was a local farmer. A graduate of GHS, he was a member of many social and civic local organizations. Honored in 2009 for continuous ownership and operation of the family farm since 1856, he began farming with horses. He enjoyed his Mustangs, boating, and motorcycles. His son Dave farms and served on the CUSD7 school board. His daughter Donna Easton is a school nurse at B-GES. Four of his grandchildren are Partnership scholars.
- Nick Spencer, son of Rick and Julie Spencer of Gillespie, will study at Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey, Illinois. His major is undecided.
GIL AND MARY JEAN HEBENSTREIT SCHOLARSHIP
- “We want to encourage young people to pursue their goals through education,” say the Hebenstreits in establishing this annual scholarship in 2018. In 1961 they moved to the area and purchased a funeral home in Gillespie. Subsequently, they operated furniture stores in Gillespie, Benld, Auburn, and Edwardsville. Next, they ran an Anheuser Busch beer distributorship out of Benld while also buying and renting apartments. Their apartment business still thrives. They are the parents of Mary Louise, Gene, and Margie Brill.
- Kayla Spencer, daughter of Greg and Trish Spencer of Gillespie, will study accounting at Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois.
H.E.I.D.I. FOUNDATION MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP
- Founded in 2011 by Gerald and Sandi Brand in memory of their daughter Heidi, the foundation’s name stands for Helping Every Individual Develop Independence. “Heidi was a very special girl with special needs, but she never let any physical shortcomings limit her big heart or her determination for independence,” says the Brands. “We are pleased and excited in 2018 for the first time ever, to endow a scholarship with the help of The Partnership, to assist either students with special needs to continue their educations or students pursuing a career that helps those with special needs. One of the trademark symbols of the H.E.I.D.I. Foundation is the butterfly; we hope this scholarship will help a student spread his or her wings and do great things.”
- Karli Carr, daughter of Dana Skinner and Robert Carr, will study physical therapy at Illinois State University in Normal.
JOHN AND MARY HICKS SCHOLARSHIP FOR THE TRADES
- John, mayor of Gillespie and a local businessman, and Mary, an active civic volunteer, offer this award in memory of his parents, Lloyd and Betty Hicks. “My dad saw the honor of working with your own two hands,” says John.
- Blaine Fritz, son of David Fritz and Laurie Piechur, will pursue an electrical/business career at Ranken Technical College.
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 Sievers, Joe, Trish Elking, and Carol Kramer, and their ten grandchildren.
- Ben Polo, son of Kevin and Therese Polo of rural Carlinville, will study veterinary medicine at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
DENIS McGRADY SR. MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP
- 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 many GHS botany field trips. His children are Denis, Jr.; Connie Page; Mikey McPheters; Doug; Charlie; Barb Mathenia; Margaret Enlow; Murray; and Brian.
- Ally Clay, daughter of David and Chris Clay of Gillespie, will study pre-law at Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey, Illinois.
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 Bartell, Pat Rath, and Pam Pitton), seven grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren.
- Sydney Henrichs, daughter of Eric and Gina Henrichs of Dorchester, will study occupational therapy at Lewis and Clark Community College.
SAM STEWART MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP
- Sam was a talented athlete and teacher whose lifelong dedication to sports and education shaped his career. He was a CUSD7 baseball coach for 30 years, and he coached basketball and football as well. “Sam would be pleased. This scholarship is a way of ‘paying it forward,’ in his memory,” says his wife, Suzanne.
- Gavin Brown, son of Ryan and Jamie Brown of Gillespie, will study to become an electric distribution lineman at Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield, Illinois.
ADAM M. TALLMAN AGENCY, FARMERS INSURANCE BUSINESS SCHOLARSHIP
- Established by local businessman, Adam and his wife Trista, both past Partnership scholars and both holders of business degrees, returned to CUSD7 to raise their children Addison and Jaxon. This scholarship will assist a student pursuing a career in business. “We thought it only fitting to pay it forward to a student who can benefit from it like we did,” says Adam
- Rylee Sarti, daughter of Jeremy and Shannon Sarti of Gillespie, will study accounting at Lewis and Clark Community College.
MARJORIE & MATT TURCOL MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP
- Matt and Marge’s great joy was their family. Marge is remembered by all for her generous and caring ways. Matt was mayor of Benld and president of the CUSD7 school board. Their daughter Susan is a frequent mini-grant recipient and their three grandsons, Dyllan, Derrek, and Dennis, are Partnership scholars.
- Marshall Hatlee, son of Kelley and Becky Hatlee of Gillespie, will study mass communications at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.
UMWA Local 1613 SCHOLARSHIP
- The union represents coal miners, health care workers, truck drivers, manufacturing employees and public employees in our communities. UMWA 1613 fights for safe workplaces, good wages and benefits, and fair representation in workplaces.
- Adam Reed, son of Brandi and David Reed of Gillespie, will study pre-pharmacy at Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield, Illinois.
VFW POST 4547 SCHOLARSHIPS
- In 2018 The Partnership for Educational Excellence is pleased to offer two new scholarships for the children or grandchildren of U.S. military veterans and/or students who have committed to ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) in college. These scholarships are the gift of the now disbanded Gillespie VFW Post 4547.
- Paige Niemeyer, daughter of Matt and Robin Niemeyer of Gillespie, will study business at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. Paige’s maternal grandfather William Campbell, was a U.S. Army Special Forces veteran of the Vietnam war.
- Nate Reiniesch, son of Mike and Amy Reiniesch of Benld, will study to become an electric distribution lineman at Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield, Illinois. His father is a Marine Corps veteran deployed to the Middle East in the 1990s
JAMES “ZIRK” ZIRKELBACH SCHOLARSHIP
- Zirk’s nine children set up this award in 2018 to honor his accomplishments in law enforcement in Macoupin County. “We want him to enjoy seeing the young people who carry forward his commitment to law enforcement,” says the family. He was Macoupin County sheriff from 1990-1998; Chief Investigator for Macoupin County; a member of the Macoupin County Board for many years; a founder of Macoupin and Montgomery County Crime Stoppers; and active in the statewide Sheriff’s Association. His children include married daughters Tracy Werner, Joan Cain, and Kimberly Burns. His sons are Robert, Dennis, James, Mark, Brian, and Bradley.
- Macie Halpin, daughter of William and Tammy Halpin of Gillespie, will study forensic science at Maryville University in St. Louis, Missouri.
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 GHS for outstanding musicianship in band and chorus.
- This year the Band winner is Adam Reed.
- This year the Chorus winner is Tara Fullington.
The Partnership for Educational Excellence is an IRS-chartered 501(c)3 not-for-profit educational foundation in Community Unit School District 7 in Macoupin County, Illinois. In addition to scholarships, The Partnership annually awards classroom mini-grants to enhance curriculum. To donate or learn more about The Partnership, contact us at: www.thepartnership7.org or P.O. Box 125, Gillespie IL 62033, and please like us on Facebook.