By Dedra Cordle
Each year for nearly 70 years, the Hilltop Kiwanis Club Scholarship Foundation has awarded two and four-year scholarships to over 300 area high school seniors to help them realize their dreams at the collegiate level and beyond.
The event, which typically takes place in late April, is a favorite to many involved in the Hilltop Kiwanis Club.
“Every year, we meet a whole new batch of students who have their own specialized skills and individual tales, but the one thing they all have in common is that they are driven to succeed,” said Paul Pennell, president of the scholarship foundation.
He said the club is fortunate to be able to raise enough funds each year to help graduating students lessen the financial burden of higher education as they reach for their goals.
“All of these kids have hopes and dreams and helping them see to them is what this foundation is all about,” he said.
Because the Hilltop Kiwanis Club serves the Hilltop community, three of the westside high schools nominate two students who they feel are qualified candidates for the scholarships.
Those who received scholarships at this year’s event were Alyssa Ann Bush and Alicia Lundy-Morse from Bishop Ready, Connor Holt and Aisley Wells from Briggs and Kevin Landis and Luz Labra Hernandez from West.
Presenter Leo Welsh praised Bush for her excellence in the classroom and her varied interests outside of the classroom.
“She’s been playing the clarinet for 12 years and she also plays the bassoon,” he said. “She does rifle shooting and she’s an avid player of video games.”
Welsh said that Bush, who plans to attend the University of Kentucky in the fall, has a bright future ahead of her.
Sandra Robert, a member of the Kiwanis Vocational Guidance Committee, praised the Ohio University bound Lundy-Morse for her interest in the environment and her desire to intern for the Environmental Protection Agency when she reaches graduate school in the near future.
Bishop Ready assistant principal Jerri Rodd said she would miss these two “outstanding students” when they graduate in a few weeks.
“They are both really good kids and they are great representatives of who we have at Bishop Ready,” said Rodd.
Dr. Tonya Milligan, the principal at Briggs, gushed about Wells and Holt, who received a two-year and four-year Kiwanis scholarship of $1,200 per year, respectively.
“Aisley is just amazing,” said Milligan. “She’s in the National Honor Society, she volunteers at Lindbergh (Elementary), she’s a school ambassador and she is really just an all-around great leader.”
The Miami (Ohio) University bound Wells said she plans to major in psychology, minor in Spanish and study abroad at some point in her collegiate years.
Holt, Milligan said, is an exemplary student who has spent many hours fundraising for school activities and children’s charities.
Holt, who plans to attend OSU-Newark in the fall, plans to major in sports management and parlay that into a career with the Ohio State University Athletic Department.
West principal Lucas Cech praised Labra Hernandez and Landis for being model students.
“When Kevin came to West, from the first day I knew he was going to be a special kid,” Cech said of the Ohio State bound Landis. “Honestly, and I probably shouldn’t be saying this, but he has been one of my favorite students.”
Cech said the “intangibles” that Landis possesses is what makes him such a great student and person.
“His personality, his smile, and his sincerity are all good examples of his intangibles.”
Another one of Cech’s favorite students is Hernandez, who plans to attend Capital University and study law.
“She has some of the best grades in our school, she excels in math and whenever there is a celebration or event for exemplary students, she’s always there.”