DeKALB – Now in its 17th year, the Resource Bank Centennial Service Award is presented to area high school graduates who demonstrate a commitment to their communities through participation in volunteer and civic activities during high school.
Each of the following top 13 students, chosen from almost 100 applicants, will receive $1,000 toward their continued education. Honored this year are:
Eliza Bowers-Chen, Sycamore High School, served the home bound and food insecure members of the community through Northern Illinois Mobile Food Bank, Voluntary Action Center, Feed ‘Em Soup, and DeKalb Community Gardens. She worked with Youth Engaged in Philanthropy and distributed nearly $12,000 in grant funds throughout the community. She will study English/international studies and community development.
Jared Bunge, Sycamore High School, organized an Eagle Scout project to collect more than 3,000 books for students in his community. He also worked every Saturday morning for more than four years at the Salem Lutheran Church Food Pantry. He will attend University of Illinois-Champaign Urbana to study chemistry.
Hailey Thurlby, Genoa-Kingston High School, served on the United Way Youth Board to serve underprivileged families, and to provide assistance to families who have been displaced by fire. She also mentored children, painted houses and worked with terminally ill children through LIFE Missions. She will study speech pathology.
Jared Wild, Indian Creek High School, worked with his Boy Scout troop to purchase holiday wreaths and place them at the headstones of fallen veterans during the Christmas season. He also designed a multi-phase Eagle Scout project to improve and upgrade Shabbona Forest Preserve for the surrounding communities. He will attend Kishwaukee College to study engineering.
Kristina Drendel, Hampshire High School, spearheaded and raised funds for a “Tree for Tyler” memorial project to honor a fellow classmate who died. She also completed several community service projects over the six years she was a 4-H member. She will attend Elgin Community College to study journalism and theater.
Nathan Flaherty, Sycamore High School, painted a mural honoring veterans for the Sycamore Veterans Home Association. He also participated in many beautification projects through Pay-It-Forward House, and was an active volunteer at Kishwaukee Hospital. He will attend Tulane University to study English.
Elizabeth Swedberg, Sycamore High School, is an active member of Youth Engaged in Philanthropy and volunteered time with Gracie Center, Pumpkin Fest, Altrusa and DeKalb County Youth Services. She also has been very involved in her church through peer ministry, Camp WOW, serving as a Eucharistic minister, attending mission trips, and working in food drives. She will attend Iowa State University to study mechanical engineering.
Ryan Loitz, Sycamore High School, provided more than 100 refurbished bicycles to underprivileged children through an Eagle Scout project called “Recycle Your Cycle: For a Wheely Good Cause” that he developed and coordinated. He also was able to provide bike locks and helmets with each donated bike. He will attend University of Illinois-Springfield to study biochemistry.
Elizabeth Mills, Cornerstone Christian Academy, provided meals to homebound members of her community through Meals on Wheels, and provided handmade blankets to people in need through Hope Haven. She also worked with inner city youth, and mentored kids through Big Sister Little Sister. She will attend Southwestern Assemblies of God University to study intercultural studies.
Collin Good, Sycamore High School, installed “Buddy Benches” at Southeast Elementary School through an Eagle Scout project aimed at providing a kinder playground culture for all kids. He also spent several years as a volunteer with the Salem Lutheran Church Food Pantry. He will attend Kishwaukee College to study business administration.
Abigail DeDina, Hampshire High School, participated in several volunteer activities throughout her community including Barnyard Olympics, Barn Dance, Winter Wonderland Workshop, Kane County Pork Chop Dinner, Literacy Night, and sending cards of encouragement to troops overseas. She also served with Ag Days to promote the many opportunities 4-H has to offer children in the community. She will attend University of Wisconsin-River Falls to study agriculture education.
Grant Minnihan, Sycamore High School, mentored children in his community through Neighbors House, which helps children pre-K through eighth grade with literacy skills and homework. He also worked in Haiti on a mission trip, has volunteered with his church, and organized activities at the local nursing home. He will attend Colorado School of Mines to study mechanical engineering.
Alison Coovert, Sycamore High School, mentored kids living with disabilities through the Penguin Project theater group and Peer Pals/Best Buddies, and spread disability awareness to elementary schoolchildren through the traveling puppet show “Kids on the Block.” She also is involved with teaching children through St. Mary Youth Ministry. She will attend Viterbo University to study elementary and special education.