A record 26 percent of Gillespie High School (GHS) graduating seniors were awarded $1,000 tuition scholarships by The Partnership for Educational Excellence.
Since 1992 the educational foundation has given $273,500 to 451 GHS graduates from every quarter of their graduating classes. Every dollar of these awards came from local individuals, businesses, alums, and foundations who share The Partnership’s goal of supporting post-secondary education in support of our philosphy: “Only on the foundation of education can our children build useful lives and a stable society.”
Receiving the scholarships include:
BILL BERUTTI MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP: Chance Reiniesch, son of David Reiniesch and Jennifer Binney of Gillespie, will study music therapy at Augsburg University in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Established by family in 2020, this scholarship commemorates a local businessman and musician with the beloved Bill Berutti Combo. His wife Gwen recalls he was “especially happy in the company of young people. It is only fitting that he should be a part of this Partnership program. He loved seeing youngsters avail themselves of opportunities to brighten their futures.”
CARROLL-KEUPPER SCHOLARSHIP: Laura Polo, daughter of Kevin and Therese Polo of rural Carlinville, will attend Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, to study experimental psychology.
Established by the late Rosemary Keupper Valle and her sister Lillian Keupper of Gillespie 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.
CORDES FAMILY MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP: Madison McMillin, daughter of Ada Grant of Eagarville, will attend Lincoln Land Community College in Litchfield, with the goal of becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant.
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.
ELINOR DAVIES NURSING SCHOLARSHIP: MacKenzy Mix, daughter of Dean and Brenda Mix of Gillespie, will study to become a pediatric nurse practitioner at the University of Alabama.
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.
CAROL ENRICO DE LUCCA MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIPS FOR A TOP GIRL GRADUATE: Emily Schmidt, daughter of Weye and Nancy Schmidt of Gillespie, will study to become a prosthetis and orthotist at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.
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.
ROGER DEWITT MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP: Lucy Gucciardo, daughter of Jim and Laura Gucciardo of rural Litchfield, will attend Southern Illinois University at Carbondale to become an equine veterinarian.
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 first career as a farmer 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.
ANDREW EASTON, SR. MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP: Bryce Higginbotham, son of Jessica Rieffer of Benld, will attend Quincy University to study pre-dentistry on the path to becoming an orthodontist.
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.
JOSEPHINE FASSERO MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP: Meghan Fosnock, daughter of Cindy Fosnock of Benld, will attend Southern Illinois University at Edwarsville, to study pre-dentistry.
She married John Fassero of Benld and raised children Florence and John, Jr. “Though she couldn’t continue her own education, Mom prized education and would be pleased to help someone continue theirs,” says John, Jr.
DANNY GRIFFEL MEMORIAL AGRICULTURE SCHOLARSHIP: Thomas Johnson, son of Wayne Johnson and Qiao Qinyang of Beijing, China, will study agribusiness at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.
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.
H.E.I.D.I. FOUNDATION MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP: Sarah Alepra, daughter of Bill and Jennifer Alepra of Gillespie, will attend Lewis and Clark Community College to study psychology.
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,” say the Brands. “We want to assist either students with special needs to continue their educations or students pursuing a career that helps those with special needs.”
KATHY HEINZ MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP: Ruby Savant, daughter of Mindy and Jim Savant of Benld, will attend Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville to study speech pathology.
The Gillespie High School Class of 1983 established this scholarship in memory of their beloved classmate Kathy Heinz. Kathy was a talented speech pathologist especially dedicated to helping the elderly and stroke victims regain speech proficiency to restore quality of life and relationships with their families. Kathy lost her life in a tragic accident in 2018.
JOHN AND MARY HICKS SCHOLARSHIP: Mallory Mick, daughter of Amy Gerdes and Gus Mick of Gillespie, will attend Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville to study biology with the goal of becoming an optometrist.
John, mayor of Gillespie and a local businessman, and Mary, an active civic volunteer, offer this award in memory of his parents, Floyd and Betty Hicks.
J. E. LIBBRA FAMILY FARM SCHOLARSHIP: Briget Dolliger, daughter of Gregory and Donna Dolliger of Benld, will attend Lewis and Clark Community College to study nursing.
Married for 48 years, Joe and Eileen Libbra were hard working grain and livestock farmers and dedicated to their four children: Mary Sievers, Joe, Trish Elking, and Carol Kramer, who maintain this scholarship.
BETTY OLIVE MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP: Deyon Wolber, daughter of Abby and DuWayne Wolber of rural Litchfield, will attend Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield to study animal science.
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.
LOUIS POLOVICH MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP: Joseph Bertetto, son of William and Michelle Bertetto of Benld, will attend Marian University and The Bishop Simon Brute Seminary in Indianapolis, Indiana, to study for the Catholic priesthood.
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 church in Benld.
ROBERT M. PREVEDELL MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP: Blane Lancaster, son of Dave and Anne Lancaster of Gillespie, will attend Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield, to study agribusiness with a focus on the seed industry.
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.
TAMMY ROSENTRETER MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP: Callie Reynolds, daughter of Lisa and Russell Reynolds of Gillespie, will attend Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville to study speech pathology.
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.
SAM STEWART MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP: Frank W. Barrett, son of Frank and Alissa Barrett, will go to Rend Lake Community College to play baseball and study mathematics secondary education.
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.
UMWA Local 1613 SCHOLARSHIP: Alex Ottersburg, son of Walter and Brandy Ottersburg of Gillespie, will attend Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville to study engineering.
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.
MICHAEL VALENTI MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP: Katie Reed, daughter of David and Brandi Reed of Gillespie, will attend Illinois College in Jacksonville to study history education.
This 1994 GHS graduate lost his life in a 1999 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 SCHOLARSHIPS: Meghan Hatlee, daughter of Kelley and Becky Hatlee of Gillespie, will attend Sourthern Illnois University at Edwardsville to study business management. There are six veterans in Meghan’s immediate family.
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.
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 Ruby Savant, daughter of Jim and Mindy Savant of Benld, and the Chorus winner is Chance Reiniesch, son of David Reiniesch of Gillespie and Jennifer Binney of Gillespie.
To view the complete GHS virtual awards ceremony go to The Partnership’s web site or Facebook page or the GHS Facebook page.
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 grants to enhance curriculum. To donate or learn more about The Partnership, contact us at: www.thepartnership7.org where you can review biographies of several past scholars. Or contact us at P.O. Box 125, Gillespie IL 62033, and please like us on Facebook.