Congratulations to the 2021 Jaimie Cox Scholarship recipients Leah Wicklund and Emily Riley. Officer Jaimie Cox (Hononegah Community High School Alumnus) was killed in the line of duty on Nov. 5, 2017. Jaimie was a kind, hardworking individual who selflessly dedicated his life to serving others. The JCMS was established to honor his memory by awarding a $1,000 scholarship to two HCHS seniors, interested in pursuing a career in emergency services that hold a similar work ethic as Jaimie; committed to the service of others. The Jaimie Cox Memorial Scholarship was established by the Rockton Police Association (R.P.A.) and Caitlin Cox & Family.

By Marianne Mueller


As background music played photos flashed across a screen featuring students from Hononegah Community High School. Each student shown was a scholarship winner; receiving well-earned accolades on Thursday evening, May 13. Essays, academic achievements and community service plus future plans were factored in to those chosen to receive scholarships.

HCHS Principal Chad Dougherty gave a warm welcome. “It is a privilege and an honor to welcome you to Scholarship Night. Honorees will be awarded over $30,000 worth in local scholarships tonight. Thank you to all of the students who applied for these scholarships and took the chance by applying for them. Dougherty acknowledged the 28 organizations that made scholarship night possible as donors.  He asked that families be recognized for their part in each student’s success.

Special Thanks were given to Mrs. Ballard for serving as the Scholarship Coordinator. “We were unsure we would be able to do this in person. We are very proud of these young men and women, these honorees really are special,” Dougherty said.

HSHS Board of Education President Dave Kurlinkus said, “Things are little different this year. It is good to see everyone in person.”

“This marks the beginning of the end of the year. You are being honored for achievements, both outside and inside the classroom. As you come forward to receive these well-deserved awards think of all of the people who helped to get you here. “

“On behalf of the Board of Education, Congratulations,” Kurlinkus said.  He informed everyone that graduation will be held at HSHS on May 29 in the stadium. “It has been many years since graduation was held here.”

Mrs. Ballard introduced and echoed sentiments of Dougherty and Kurlinkus. “We want to spotlight all of the award winners who are sitting stage left. We want you to be center stage, “Ballard said. Supportive clapping filled the Performing Arts Center as recipients took a seat in center stage. 

Kevin Finnegan was the first presenter on behalf of Prairie Hill Parent Staff Association.  Nathan Halbrader and Natalie Williams each received scholarships in the amount of $750. “I am very excited to see the number of Prairie Hill students who are on this stage; it is an honor to present to students with roots in the Prairie Hill district,” Finnegan said.

Earning the Prairie Hill District Greg Thorpe Athletic Scholarship was: Malavika Menon and Thomas Ptacin.  Elena Kitzman and Brendon Wang received the Prairie Hill Federation of Teachers Scholarship.

Ashton Banker and Braxton Brown were awarded with Shirland School Graduating Scholar honors.

Riley Shores received the Roscoe PTO Service Award for her many hours of volunteer work including volunteering at the Veterans Run; organizing a kid’s 5-K and more. 

Bryn Hansmeier was awarded the Rockton Lions Scholarship. Riley Shores received the Dr. Loomis Rockton Lions Club Scholarship. “In our past 80 year long history of philanthropy we have donated over $50,000 which goes back into the community, “Rockton Lions Club President, Jeff Schreck.

Students who received the Roscoe Lions Club Scholarship were Malavika and Brendon Wang. Each received $1,000.

Thomas Ptacin was the winner of the Stateline Chamber Scholarship.

Elev815 Scholarships were given to the following 16 students in the amount of $500 each: Lauren Billings, Braxton Brown, Madison Gunderson, Nathan Halbrader, Clare Hankins, Bryn Hansmeier, Alison Murdoch, Kaitlyn Niedfeldt, Grant Preston, Emily Riley, Riley Shores, Brendon Wang, Lauren Wedig, Leah Wicklund and Hailey Zimmerman.

Officer Jaimie Cox lost his life in the line of duty in November of 2017. He was remembered by his cousin Andrea Cox. She reflected on his love for police work. Together with Officer Penny Cure of the Rockton Police Department and on behalf of the Rockton Police Association awarded Emily Riley and Leah Wicklund with the Jaimie Cox Memorial Scholarship.

Hannah Ballard received the William R. Brasky Business Scholarship. Presenter Kevin Selover told the story of how this scholarship started. “Thirteen years ago this we started golfing to raise money for the scholarship and are now a 51C not for profit organization,” Selover said.

Hayden Lewis and Thomas Ptacin were awarded a $1,000 scholarship from Blackhawk Community Credit Union- Achievement of Excellence.

Hailey Zimmerman was awarded the Parker Hannifin Engineering Scholarship.

Clark Schoonover of Rock Energy Cooperative presented three $1,000 scholarships. Recipients were: Finley Hamilton, Malavika Menon and Leah Wicklund.

Finley Hamilton received a $2,000 scholarship from Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives.

Mrs. Ballard presented Braxton Brown with a $1,200 scholarship from Hononegah Education Association.

Brian Zimmerman presented the “Outstanding Science Student Scholarship.” “I was a former student, colleague and friend of “Strom”, Zimmerman said. He passed away 14 years ago and was a Science teacher and a football and soccer coach. He was as gentle as a lamb and was also raised on a farm. Zimmerman presented Reilley Guth with this honor.

Brain Hansmeier honored his brother’s memory by presenting the Todd Hansmeier Memorial Scholarship. Hansmeier described Todd as someone who always had a smile on his face and was always volunteering where he saw there was a need. He invited all adults to come out to Hans Brew Fest on Oct. 2. Madelyn McWilliams and Leah Wicklund were this year’s recipients of $1,200 each.

Brendon Wang received the Hononegah Board of Education Scholarship. Kurlinkis gave the history of this scholarship which was established by former Superintendent, Lynn Gibson, and Gayle Haab from Kinnikinnick and former Assistant Superintendent, Kim Suedbeck. The purpose of this scholarship is to honor a student who is planning to continue their education and who is deeply involved in service.

Eric Weber presented the “Larry Weber Baseball Fund Scholarship” to Noah Goddard. “In 1979 my Father started the first baseball program at HHS,”Weber said. “He would have chosen this recipient for this scholarship. Weber field is named after Mr. Larry Weber.

Hannah Ballard was chosen to receive the Hendricks Career Tek Scholarship.

Hailey Zimmerman was recognized for Activism and Advodcy.

Clare Hankins was honored as “Next Generation of Business Leaders.”

The final two scholarships were given by Mrs. Ballard on behalf of Alumnus of HCHS.

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