The D123 PTA Council has revealed the recipients of the 2023 Helen Whalen $1000 Scholarship, honoring the legacy of a devoted PTA member and President of the D123 Board of Education who served School District 123 for four decades. This year's winners, Ashley Argueta, Alexis Dunaway, and Makayla Henry, exemplify Helen Whalen's dedication to making children "Priority #1."
Ashley Argueta, daughter of Jennifer Rafferty and Jesus Argueta, is set to attend Northwestern University to study Environmental Policy and Science. Her favorite PTA memory is the Father-Daughter Dance. She credits her kindergarten teacher, Mrs. McCormick from Hometown Elementary, and Mr. Weber from OLHMS for their significant impact on her educational journey, particularly in sparking her interest in social studies and government while also making learning "fun."
Alexis Dunaway, daughter of Kerry and Danielle Dunaway, will pursue a major in Architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Alexis fondly recalls her time at the Kolmar Winter Carnival and the Special Olympic Basketball event at OLHMS. She expresses gratitude to Mrs. Ricker from Covington Elementary and Mrs. Ogean from OLHMS for motivating her to continue learning and fostering her passion for math and sports.
Makayla Henry, daughter of Michael and Jennifer Henry, plans to study Pre-occupational Therapy at the University of Iowa, aspiring to become a Pediatric Occupational Therapist. Her favorite PTA experiences include breakfast events with her parents at Kolmar Elementary School and "Introduce a Girl to STEM Day" at OLHMS. Makayla thanks Mrs. Padalino from Kolmar for making her feel welcome at her new school and Mrs. Litsogiannis from OLHMS for teaching her the value of hard work and inspiring her love for social studies.
In the evening's program, the D123 PTA Council expressed appreciation for everyone involved in the 2023 Helen Whalen Scholarship process, including the Scholarship Committee, judges, and inspirational teachers who have nurtured and shaped the scholarship winners into the students and citizens they are today.
The achievements of the Helen Whalen Scholarship recipients embody the commitment to education and the pursuit of excellence inspired by the late Helen Whalen. Her unwavering dedication to children and education continues to benefit the community, with her legacy living on through these scholarships and the awardees' accomplishments.