The Partnership for Educational Excellence of Community Unit School District 7 (CUSD7) in Macoupin County celebrated its 30th anniversary by awarding a record number of scholarships in the GHS Class of 2022.
Each of the 27 seniors who received a named memorial Partnership scholarship now have $1,000 toward tuition at an accredited technical school, college or university. And we are delighted to break another record this year: three sets of twins earned scholarships on our 30th anniversary.
These awards bring the total number of Partnership scholars to 497.
Remarkably every penny of the $319,500 that The Partnership has been privileged to award since 1992 has come from local people and businesses, alums and foundations. In addition to scholarships, The Partnership has also awarded more than $630,000 to curriculum enhancement for 30 years in every grade in every CUSD7 school. Nearly $1 million!
Warm thanks to the donors who have trusted The Partnership to invest in our future: our children.
Students earn scholarship recognition and financial support for initiative, character, responsibility, and hard work in school activities, community service, and academics. They are chosen regardless of class rank, GPA, or need. We are proud to recognize and assist students from every quarter of each class.
In addition, we are honored to present on behalf of the estate of Evaline Boehmke gifts of $100 each to students chosen by GHS music faculty for excellence in band and chorus.
This year’s recipients, their respective scholarships, and information about the donor are listed below:
- DR. D. ROSS AND MRS. ROSEMARY BILLITER SCHOLARSHIP: Zach Reiniesch, son of Mike and Amy Reiniesch of Benld, will attend Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey to study petroleum refining.
- “We are grateful to the people of this area who have supported my medical practice,” said Dr. Billiter, who retired recently after nearly 50 years as a general surgeon at St. Francis Hospital in Litchfield. “This gift acknowledges our appreciation and an investment in the future of our area.”
- EMIL BORGINI MEMORIAL EDUCATION SCHOLARSHIP: Quincy Peterson, daughter of Grant Peterson and Kelly Bruhn of Gillespie, will study at Western Illinois University in Macomb to become a middle school social studies teacher.
- 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 made this award possible.
- CORDES FAMILY MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP: Michael Kain Pabon, son of Danielle Fisko of Benld, will attend Blackburn College in Carlinville to explore career options.
- Established in 2018 by Pete and Sally Prevedell Seraphin, it honors Sally’s maternal ancestors Fred and Amelia Cordes who were known for their hard work, gardens, and hospitality at their small farm in the Hudson River Valley. Donna Cordes Prevedell is a Partnership director.
- ELINOR DAVIES NURSING SCHOLARSHIP: Brenna Halteman, daughter of John and Kelly Halteman of Gillespie, will work toward a BS in Nursing, starting at Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey.
- Established by friends and family 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.
- CAROL ENRICO DE LUCCA MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP FOR A TOP GIRL GRADUATE: Alyssa McDaniel, daughter of David and Staci McDaniel of Gillespie, will study exercise science at Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois.
- Family and friends endowed the award in memory of this Benld native who was a respected educator and counselor. The daughter of Rose Enrico, she established a consulting business to help students pursue their goals through higher education.
- ROGER DEWITT MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP: Karissa Mull, daughter of George Mull and Christy Spencer of Gillespie, will attend Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey with a focus on art.
- An outpouring of memorials for this talented farmer, painter, horse breeder, horticulturist, and musician led to this award. Song writing and performing with his band Southern Blend were backdrops to his first career as a farmer and second as an artist. Self-taught, he depicted small family farm life, a disappearing culture of the rural Midwest.
- DON DOBRINO MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP: Jacob Stevens, son of Jami and Matt Schmid, will attend Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey to study psychology.
- “The Duke” was best known at GHS for 1976 and 1990 trips by the football Miners to the 2A finals in the Illinois State Playoffs. In college, he went to the Rose Bowl with the Iowa Hawkeye, knocking out Oregon State 35-18. A double threat, he was also known as the “Strike-out King” of the Big Ten, leading to time with the Washington Redskins and the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball teams. Even after retirement he continued coaching at his alma mater, Mt. Olive High School. He was ultimately inducted into the National High School Athletic Association and the Illinois High School Hall of Fame.
- ANDREW EASTON, SR. MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP: Luke Hatlee, son of Kelley and Becky Hatlee of Gillespie, will attend Southern Illinois University Edwardsville to study business administration and computer information systems.
- A teacher and coach for more than 20 years, his passion was to motivate his students and athletes to achieve to their highest level.
- DANNY GRIFFEL MEMORIAL AGRICULTURE SCHOLARSHIP: Mason Weller, son of Chester and Katina Weller of Gillespie, will study agribusiness at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
- Danny, a veteran who served in the US Army in Korea, operated the family farm established in 1856. A member of many social and civic organizations, he enjoyed Mustangs, boating and motorcycles.
- HAYES FAMILY SCHOLARSHIP FOR MEDICAL CAREERS: Iris Page, daughter of Brian and Whitney Page of Gillespie, will attend the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to begin pre-med studies.
- Billy and Diana Hayes established this scholarship in 2021 to support GHS graduates interested in medicine. Diana’s career as a nurse taught them the field’s potential to enhance self and community.
- H.E.I.D.I. FOUNDATION MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP: Haylee Ikerman, daughter of Jeff and Wendy Ikerman of Gillespie, will attend the University of Illinois Springfield to major in social work with a focus on children.
- Gerald and Sandi Brand’s foundation, in memory of their daughter Heidi, assists those interested in helping young people with special needs achieve full potential. H.E.I.D.I. stands for Helping Every Individual Develop Independence.
- JOHN AND MARY HICKS FAMILY SCHOLARSHIP: Brock Doty, son of Christy and John Blank of Gillespie and Brian and Brenda Doty of will study to be a power company lineman at Southeast Lineman School in Trenton, Georgia.
- John, mayor of Gillespie and a local businessman, and Mary, an active volunteer, offer this award in memory of his parents, Lloyd and Betty Hicks.
- JULIA KRAVANYA MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP: Brynn Baker, daughter of Matthew and Nicole Baker of rural Shipman, will attend the University of Spa and Cosmetology at Springfield to become a cosmetologist.
- Born in Scotland, she married Anton J. Kravanya in 1942 in Gillespie. They raised daughter Fran and son Tony, who operates Kravanya Funeral Homes with his son Anthony and daughter Lyn. Nicholas, another grandson, is a dentist in Carlinville.
- DAISY LANCASTER MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP: Lanie Doty, daughter of Christy and John Blank of Gillespie and Brian and Brenda Doty, will attend University of Spa and Cosmetology in Springfield to study cosmetology.
- Daisy retired as a cafeteria cook in CUSD7. She was an active member of United Methodist Women at Gillespie’s First United Methodist Church. She and husband Bill enjoyed playing pinochle and watching their nine grandchildren and great grandchildren play sports.
- J. E. LIBBRA FAMILY FARM SCHOLARSHIP: Madison Niemeyer, daughter of Matt and Robin Niemeyer of rural Gillespie, will attend Southern Illinois University Edwardsville to study business management in order to form an equine therapy business.
- Married for 48 years, Joe, a hardworking grain and livestock farmer, and Eileen, a nurse, were dedicated to their four children: Mary Sievers, Joe, Trish Elking, and Carol Kramer, who maintain this scholarship in their honor.
- HENRY MARCACCI MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP: Brianna Wentler, daughter of Tristan and Sabrina Wentler of Gillespie, will attend Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey to study education.
- He taught business in CUSD 7 for 33 years and also served as county school superintendent for eight years. He and his wife Lucille raised seven children; all attended CUSD7 schools. He died at age 101.
- LOUIS POLOVICH MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP: Alexis Shuey-Warford, daughter of, David Warford of Gillespie, will attend Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey to study education.
- Established by his family, this scholarship honors Lou who was a respected teacher and principal in CUSD 7 and a devoted member of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Benld.
- ROBERT M. PREVEDELL MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP: Elizabeth Eaker, daughter of Crystal Howard of Gillespie, will attend Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey to study business so she can open a pet salon and shelter.
- Robert lived 94 years as a farmer near Eagarville. Beloved for his dignity, good nature, integrity, and generosity, he was a prolific woodworker; veteran house mover; self-taught musician; and talented gardener.
- TRAVIS SEMPLOWSKI MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP: Ashton Bethard, son of Jeffery and Rachel Bethard of rural Litchfield, will attend Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey to study computer engineering.
- A graduate of GHS and member of Future Farmers of America, he was an automotive specialist when he died on 28 July 2009 at age 21.
- TEBBE FAMILY FOUNDATION SCHOLARSHIP: Emmery Pau, daughter of Gavin and Sara Pau, will attend Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau to study computer science.
- GHS graduate Mark Tebbe, Class of 1979, founder of Lante Corporation, and his parents Ralph and Rose Marie Tebbe of Sawyerville, founded this scholarship for students of computer science and engineering, They have also funded many classroom mini-grants through their family foundation. Rose and another of her sons, Ken, are Partnership directors.
- DAWN TILLEY MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP FOR EMERGENCY MEDICINE: Hanna Bray, daughter of Joshua and Cynthia Bray of Benld, will attend Illinois State University in Normal to study exercise science/physical therapy and also become an EMT.
- Dawn Tilley was a paramedic with the Gillespie Benld Area Ambulance Service. Dedicated to emergency medical care, she also worked on Dunn’s and MedStar ambulances. She volunteered with Gillespie Area Providers and Christmas Angels. “She would help anyone who needed anything,” her family recall.
- BARNEY TRABAN MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP: Kylie Kasarda, daughter of George and Amy Kasarda of rural Shipman, will attend Southern Illinois University Edwardsville to study business management.
- Barney, born to James and Theresa Traban of Wilsonville, was the only one of the four well-known Traban children to graduate from high school. After a career in the hospitality industry, Barney arranged a gift to further the educations of other GHS graduates. His sister Theresa carried out his wishes. Barney’s gift is the largest single contribution ever made to The Partnership. Other siblings were Mary Traban and James Traban.
- MICHAEL VALENTI MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP: Katherine Polo, daughter of Kevin and Therese Polo of rural Carlinville, will attend Southeast Missouri State University to study criminology.
- This 1994 GHS graduate lost his life in a tragic accident. Michael had earned an associates degree at Lewis and Clark Community College and was continuing his education at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.
- VFW POST 4547 SCHOLARSHIP: Levi Hatlee, son of Kelley and Becky Hatlee of Gillespie, will attend Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, to study business management.
- The Partnership is pleased to offer a scholarship for a child or grandchild of a U.S. military veteran and/or a student who has committed to ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) in college. This scholarship is the result of a generous gift from the now disbanded Gillespie VFW Post 4547.
- PETE VISINTIN MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP: Emilee K. Schmit, daughter of Brandi Brewer of Carlinville, will attend Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey to study child clinical psychology.
- Pete Visintin Sr. worked as a certified mechanical technician in Gillespie his entire career. He was passionate about the trades and vocational education, fields in great demand today. This donation to the Partnership for Educational Excellence helps a student attain training and expertise to pursue an enjoyable and profitable career. Pete’s son, also named Pete, is a teacher at Ben-Gil Elementary School.
- FRANK WARGO MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP: Jackson Stevens, son of Jami and Matt Schmid of Dorchester, will attend Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey to study human resources.
- Frank was an outstanding scholar athlete at Gillespie High School. His subsequent college education led to a career as a computer programmer and later as a contractor with the State of Illinois, which let him to work from home despite serious physical limitations. A faithful attendee at many GHS sporting, civic, and charitable events, he was a familiar and well-loved figure. Frank’s inner strength made him a model of positive attitude, good nature, and goal driven persistence in the face of hardship. He valued his education and wanted others to attain theirs in order to also build independent and satisfying lives.
- JIM “ZIRKS” ZIRKELBACH SCHOLARSHIP: Isabella Wallace, daughter of Crystal Gwyn and Larry Wright of Benld, will attend the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to study forensic psychology.
- Zirks’ nine children established this award 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; a founder of the 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.
- EVALINE BOEHMKE MUSICIANSHIP AWARDS Evaline Boehmke, was an ardent supporter of music. She left a generous bequest for $100 cash awards for students selected by the music faculty of GHS for outstanding musicianship. This year the band winner is Alex Pelt and the chorus winner is Quincy Peterson.
The Partnership for Educational Excellence is an IRS-chartered 501(c)3 not-for-profit educational foundation. It also awards classroom grants to enhance curriculum. To donate or learn more, contact us at: www.thepartnership7.org or P.O. Box 125, Gillespie IL 62033.