The Kankakee Kiwanis Club has awarded six $1,000 scholarships to graduating seniors from Kankakee County high schools. The scholarships are an annual event for Kiwanis. Kiwanis President Sandy Knight said the club board thought it was especially important to continue the scholarships in what has been a difficult year for students.
The scholarships take academic achievement into account, but also rely on a student’s commitment to volunteer activities in their school and in their community. Preference is also given to students who are seeking careers that involve helping children as the mission of Kiwanis is to serve the children of the world.
Kiwanis raises funds for the scholarships, and for its other projects, through its annual sale of peanuts and gummi bears. That occurs in late summer and early fall. Last year all outdoor sales were canceled because of the pandemic, but hopes are to resume them this year. Most sales come from area businesses, agencies and individuals who buy entire boxes — and often use them as Halloween treats.
Here are this year’s scholarship winners:
Jackson Stawick of Manteno High School, the son of Jeff and Jenny Stawick. Jackson plans to study music education at Illinois State University, with the goal of teaching young children about the wonders of music.
A two-year All-State Choir member, he participated in many music programs in high school and was a member of the National Honor Society. He’s a leader in Vacation Bible School and distributed food baskets to the needy at Christmas. Among his many volunteer activities is dressing up as the Easter Bunny for the U are U Preschool pancake fundraiser.
Emilie Lindgren of Momence High School, the daughter of Bjorn and Jodie Lindgren, plans to major in English education at Trinity Christian College. Emilie hopes to become a middle school English teacher.
At Momence, she was a member of the Best Buddies, helping special needs students, as well being a member of the Honor Guard, presenting the colors at the funerals of local veterans. A National Honor Society student, she was a Sunday School teacher and played varsity ice hockey on the boys team. She was also a juror for teen court.
Emma Valant of Bishop McNamara High School, the daughter of Steve and Tracey Valant, plans to study health science at Grand Valley State University. Her goal is to be a physician’s assistant in a pediatric office.
She was a volunteer at Camp MOSH for Maternity BVM Parish and was an intern for State Rep. Lindsay Parkhurst. She played on the track, soccer and volleyball teams and was volleyball captain her senior year. A gold honor roll and National Honor Society student, she was also the female leader of Waterford House at Bishop Mac.
Abigail Lovell of Momence High School, the daughter of Tyler and Jodi Lovell, plans to major in elementary education at Olivet Nazarene University.
A National Honor Society student, and she was also the drum major of her high school band. For three years, she was the president of the Best Buddies organization, working with students with disabilities. She is very involved with the Edward Chipman Public Library and has volunteered for Samaritan’s Purse and Lutheran World Relief.
Jaden Ewoldt of Grant Park High School, the daughter of Michael Ewoldt and Heidi Frahm. Jaden plans on majoring in Elementary Education at Illinois State University.
Jaden teaches Sunday School, is an election judge and volunteers at the Fortitude homeless shelter. She is a National Honor Society student and vice president of her class.
Shreeta Vachhani of Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School and the daughter of Peter and Bharti Vachhini, plans to study biology and chemistry at Northwestern with the goal of becoming a dentist.
As an orthodontist or pediatric dentist, she will seek to help her young clients realize their worth.
At BBCHS she has been on the varsity dance team for four years. She is president of the National Honor Society and president of the Leo’s service club. She’s on the executive board for Best Buddies, which builds relationships for students with special needs. She volunteers her time to sterilize instruments at Main Street Dental.