The Beatrice Educational Foundation has come a long way in the past 30 years.
Offering a single scholarship when it began in 1987, the foundation now manages 30 different scholarship funds and a $1.9 million endowment for Beatrice High School’s graduating seniors.
On Sunday, April 24, the Beatrice Educational Foundation held its yearly Scholarship and Hall of Fame program in the commons at Beatrice High School. Hundreds of families and well-wishers sat around the circular tables as students were called to receive their scholarship awards.
Some wore ties, some wore dresses and some wore sneakers, but all BHS students were wore smiles as they approached the podium to get their certificates. This year, the 30 students were vying for a piece of an $82,275 scholarship pie.
The scholarships ranged from a single-offer $100 scholarship, all the way up to a $7,000 prize awarded over four years. Students spent the early part of this semester filling out scholarship applications, collecting letters of recommendation and writing personal essays. A couple of weeks ago, students that were selected to receive a scholarship got an invitation to the event.
The recipient of each scholarship was a carefully-guarded surprise up until the moment a name was announced.
“Aren't these kids amazing,” asked Beatrice Educational Foundation president Kay McKinzie. “They look so great. They're all so dressed up you could take them all out to dinner.”
McKinzie announced the winners of the 30 scholarships, from which, 41 individual scholarships were awarded.
The Eighth Grade Leadership Beatrice Class VII Scholarship of $150 named its first recipients, Brenden Simpson, who plans to go to Midland University with aims of becoming a pharmacist, and Tia Buhr, who’s heading to Bryan College of Health Sciences to become a pediatric nurse.
The Leatha Grimes Scholarship, which offers $100 for students interested in pursuing a career in nursing, went to Karly Wegner, who will be heading off to study nursing at Southeast Community College in Lincoln.
Trenton Poley took home the Esther Damkroger Scholarship, which awards $250 to students interested in becoming a music teacher in elementary, middle or high schools. Poley will start a career in musical education when he attends the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
The $250 George McNenny Scholarship for students interested in art and architecture went unawarded this year, as no students qualified for it.
The Diane Cornelius Scholarship for $350—created for students active in music at BHS—went to Will Crandall who will be studying mechanical engineering at the University of Northwestern - St. Paul.
Jacob Pinkerton got the $375 Virgil Jurgens scholarship for students who played basketball at BHS. Pinkerton is heading to the Des Moines Area Community College to study athletic training.
The Perley and Bessie V. Bates Scholarship of $400 for students who exemplify good citizenship also went to Pinkerton.
A new scholarship, named for former Paddock Lane Elementary third grade teacher, Lela A. Blas, awarded $500 to Jenilee Wright who is planning to attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to study elementary education.
The Virgil and Rhoda Pethoud Scholarship awards two students with $500. The first for a student who played softball for at least two years and the other for a student interested in a medical career. The scholarships went to Joscelyn Zimmerman who played softball and will study nursing at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and to Isabelle Zito, heading to University of Nebraska-Omaha to become a family physician.
The Delvin Koch Scholarship, named for the former CEO of the Beatrice State Developmental Center, awarded $500 to Kendall Post who is heading to Southeast Community College in Milford to become a machinist.
Cooper Blum took the Harold Deitemeyer Scholarship for $500, awarded to students planning to attend any University of Nebraska Campus and who showed a commitment to the high school community and to Beatrice. Blum is off to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he’ll study to be a physician assistant.
The longest-running scholarship, the Don Linn Scholarship for $700, went to Krystina Billesbach who’s heading to University of Nebraska-Lincoln to study international sales.
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The $700 Class of 1961 Scholarship is given to a student who displays personal ethics and moral character, and went to Krystina Billesbach this year.
The Irene Sokolik Scholarship of $750 went to Courtney Fujan, who plans on attending the University of Nebraska-Kearney to become a strength and conditioning teacher.
The Greg Replogle Scholarship—another new scholarship—awards $1,000 to a student interested in nursing. It went to Andrea Zulauf who will study nursing at Nebraska Wesleyan University.
The Karla Hays Loving Heart Scholarship for $1,000 is given to students involved in the BHS music program, volunteer organizations or a member of St. John Lutheran Church went to Eli Hoefer, who will be majoring in acting and theater directing and performance at University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
The new Margaret Kassing Scholarship for $1,000 was awarded to Trenton Poley, his second scholarship of the event.
The two $1,000 Colin Hays Legacy Scholarships were awarded to Noah Snurr, who will attend Nebraska Wesleyan University to study music education, and to Natalie Doering, who is heading to Iowa Western Community College to major in dental hygiene.
The $1,000 Neva and Ernest Smethers Scholarship, awarded to a student involved in golf, went to Kirsten Baete who will attend University of Nebraska-Lincoln to study elementary and special education.
Will Crandall also won the $1,000 Ben Stindt Scholarship.
The Brandon Villafane Scholarship for $1,250—awarded to students who have participated in football, basketball or track at BHS and exhibit traits of mental and physical toughness—went to Tilden Bardsley, who’s going to Nebraska Wesleyan University to study accounting.
The two winners of the $1,250 Klaus Dueck Scholarship for students who plan to study abroad were Ireland Rash and her sister Indiana Rash who both plan to become English as a second language instructors and attend Hellenic International Study in the Arts in Paros, Greece.
The new Amber Schroeder Scholarship for $1,500 for students involved in cross country went to Brady Achtemeir who will attend Hastings Collegs.
The two $1,500 Flint Hills Resources Discovery Scholarships—provided by Koch Biodiesel—went to Jeffrey Sullinger who will be attending the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to study aerospace engineering and Noah Snurr.
Three Peter W. Jepsen Scholarships of $1,700 were awarded. Created for students planning to attend any type of higher education, and awarded based on scholarship, activities, character and need, was won by Andrea Zulauf, Skylar Thomas—who will attend Southwestern Assemblies of God University to become a counselor—and Jenilee Wright.
The $2,500 Neil and Alison Henry Scholarship for students who participated in track and field at BHS during their junior and senior years went to Breanna Trauernicht, who is heading to Southeast Community College to major in nursing.
The Dr. Alan Fiala Scholarship awards $4,000 to students who plan to study the natural sciences, like astronomy, biology, chemistry, earth science and physics. The scholarship went to Nathan Spilker who will attend Princeton, majoring in physics to become an astronautical engineer.
The Robert Taylor Scholarship for students going on to pursue a career in fine arts gave $5,000 to Eli Hoefer.
Five students took home the Fred and Virginia Vette Scholarship for $6,000, including Madison Pieper who will be a pre-medicine major at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Tia Buhr, Kyle Leners who will study agricultural economics at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Kirsten Baete and Ali Walters, who plans to study at Texas Christian University to become a cardiothoracic surgeon.
The $7,000 Frances Fellwock Reed Scholarship went to two students who display high moral character, Joscelyn Zimmerman and Katie Jo Steffen, who will attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to begin a career as an extension educator.
One of the requirements on this scholarship was that the selection committee had to pick two alternates, which included Nathan Spilker and Madison Pieper, McKinzie said.
After the awards were given, the foundation announced its Hall of Fame inductees, Dennis Byars and Scott Coates, as well as its Friend of Education award to Robert Person.