Chester High School has four Illinois State Scholars

Chelsea August, Jacob Handel, Briley Miles, and Will Schuwerk are this year’s inductees


By Jim Beers, Contributing Writer

CHESTER — Chester High School Counselor, Casey Hawkins, is pleased to announce that four students from the Chester High School graduating Class of 2023 have been designated as Illinois State Scholars. 

Those students include Chelsea August, Jacob Handel, Briley Miles, and Will Schuwerk.

Chelsea August is the daughter of Jon and Angela August.  While at CHS Chelsea has been involved in the CHS Marching YellowJackets as a percussionist, the Swing Choir, “Sound Affect”, Concert Choir, and Art Club, where she has been the Vice President the past two years.


Miss August has been an active participant in the CHS Theatre Program and she is a member of the school environmental organization, the “Green Team”. In her sophomore year she was inducted into the CHS Summit Chapter of the National Honor Society.


After gradation Miss August plans to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale where she may major in Geology.  August said, “I definitely plan to become actively involved while at SIU and I am very thankful to have been chosen as an Illinois State Scholar.”


Jacob Handel is the son of Carl and Trish Handel.  At CHS Jacob was a member of the CHS Football Team his freshman year.  He has also been actively involved in YellowJacket Basketball, Cross Country, and Track.Mr. Handel is a member of the CHS Marching YellowJackets, Pep Band and Concert Band. He is also an active member of the Spanish Club, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Pep Club, and the CHS Summit Chapter of the National Honor Society.


After graduating from CHS Jacob is currently undecided as to what he wants to do regarding his educational aspirations or work involvement.


Briley Miles is the daughter of Robert and Diann Miles. AT CHS Briley has been active in the Spanish Club, the Lady Jacket Track and Field Team, the Environmental Club, “Green Team”, Student Council, and the CHS Summit Chapter of the National Honor Society.


After graduating from Chester High School in May of 2032, Briley will most likely attend Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville where she hopes to pursue a degree and career in Dentistry.


Will Schuwerk is the son of Matt and Jessica Schuwerk.  Throughout his four years at CHS will has been a member of the CHS YellowJacket Football Team and Track and Field Team.  He is also a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Future Farmers of America, and the CHS Pep Club.


Following his graduation from Chester High School, Will plans to attend Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville.  His intentions are to pursue a degree in Engineering.


The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) is the State of Illinois’ college access and financial aid agency.  It is pleased to announce this year’s State Scholars.  These exceptional individuals are selected based upon standardized test scores combined with sixth semester, or junior class rank. These students represent approximately the top ten percent of graduates from all Illinois High Schools.


ISAC Executive Director, Eric Zarnikow said, “On behalf of ISAC, congratulations to all of the Illinois State Scholars for all of their hard work and commitment inside and outside of the class!”


“The achievements of these students are a credit to their resilience, and to the support and encouragement of their families, principals, teachers, mentors, counselors, and others invested in their growth and success.”


The Illinois State Scholar designation is a non-monetary award.  Recipients receive a congratulatory letter and Certificate of Achievement from ISAC.  They can also download an official Illinois State Scholar Badge to display on their online profiles and social media platforms.  Such badges can further be shared with their high school counselors, employers, family members and others.


The designation as an Illinois State Scholar begins not on the year that they graduate from high school, but it is based on the year they would begin any post-secondary education.

The ISAC strongly recommends that all high school students complete the 2023-24 Free Application for Federal Student Aid, (better known as FAFSA) so that they can make the most informed decisions and choices possible about their education after graduating from high school.


FAFSA results are used to determine a prospective student’s eligibility for any available federal and most state and institutional financial aid.  Such financial aid is available for any type of post-secondary education including certificates, two-or-four year degree programs, and some vocational programs.


There is also an Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid that may determine that a student could be eligible for some state financial aid even if they are not eligible for federal student aid.


ISAC further supports high schools and students statewide by offering free assistance with college and career exploration.  They also help students complete financial aid forms and college applications.  Recent college graduates are trained to serve as near-peer mentors to assist students and families in navigating education after high school.

State Scholars represent approximately the top ten percent of a high school senior class from about 765 high schools across the State of Illinois. These students possess strong academic potential.