CHS recognizes senior honor students at 2022-2023 ‘Honors Night’

Local scholarships total $260,000; when adding academic & athletic scholarships and military benefits, Chester seniors bring in approximately 1.8 million dollars

BY JIM BEERS, Contributing Writer

CHESTER – An annual rite of passage was held at Chester High School Wednesday evening May 20, 2023 when Casey Hawkins, School Guidance Counselor, CHS Administrators, Jeremy Blechle, Principal and Assistant Principal Robin Barton, Kim Briggs, Chester Consolidated School District # 139 Superintendent, teachers, staff, local scholarship sponsors and media gathered to recognize senior honor students.

The event began at 6:00 p.m. in CHS Colbert Gymnasium on Rocky Bridges Court. Mrs. Hawkins said, “We did things a bit different this year. The set up was different and only Class of 2023 Senior Honor Students were invited to attend along with their parents and guests.”

“This is my first year at Chester High School as Guidance Counselor and I wanted to do things a bit differently.”

In some past years, this event sometimes took as many as two or three hours to complete and people got really tired and frustrated. On those years, all students at CHS, freshmen through seniors, were recognized for all types of awards including attendance, academic achievements, sports, scholarships, and many other types of school-related happenings. This year, the event was focused on just senior honor students who had worked hard to earn recognition.

The physical set-up was also different this year as local academic scholarship sponsors were seated on the floor to the left of the presentation podium. To the right of the podium CHS teachers and staff members were seated to recognize the great work they have done throughout the year.

Senior honorees were seated in the front row of the athletic orange chair seats to the left and right of the scorer’s table. As they were recognized, they approached the podium where various presenters introduced the student(s) and talked about his or her awards.

Immediately following the presentations of awards, both the presenter and recipient (s) were photographed in front of the new CHS YellowJacket backdrop. This gave both seniors and their presenters recognition. This act was especially an added, and well-deserved “Thank You” to the local scholarship sponsors who provided $260,000 in local scholarships.

The program began precisely at 6:00 p.m. with a warm welcome by CHS Guidance Counselor, Casey Hawkins. She introduced herself and welcomed parents, family and presenters to the event. Before starting the presentations, Hawkins described the protocol for the way the event would proceed.

To first portion of the official program consisted of seven recognitions of non-scholarship awards.

First, Sophia Durbin, Co-Sponsor for the Summit Chapter of the National Honor Society, introduced the 15 senior members of the NHS and presented them with their special sashes to be worn on Graduation Day with their graduation gowns.

Senior NHS members included Chelsea August, Sydney Collins, Hanna Colvis, Emma Eggemeyer, Trace Fricke, Savanah Guebert, Jacob Handel, Camrynn Howie, Koby Jany, Kerrington Malley, Reese McCormick, Briley Miles, Mikayla Straight, Paige Thomas, and Paige Vasquez. 

Illinois State Scholars were then recognized including Chelsea August, Jacob Handel, Briley Miles, and Will Schuwerk. CHS Science Teacher Evelyn Hankins presented the students and the recognition.

Assistant Principal, Robin Barton, introduced the 2023 Terri Bryant Youth Advisory Council Representative Awards to Maleia Absher, Aidan Blechle, Hanna Colvis, and Jacob Handel.

Chester High School had two athletes earn IHSA All-State Academic Team Awards including Jacob Handel for the Boys’ Team and Camrynn Howie for the Girls’ Team. CHS Athletic Director, Bryce Bainter made the presentation to Handel and Howie. Just one boy and one girl from each IHSA school earns this honor.

CHS Guidance Counselor Casey Hawkins presented the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Award to Hanna Colvis.

Principal Jeremy Blechle recognized five CHS seniors that were selected to represent the school at the 2023 Southern Illinois Society for High School Achievement (SISHSA) banquet at Southern Illinois University Carbondale Thursday May 2.

Students from 32 Southern Illinois Schools were chosen to receive this honor. A total of 181 local students attended the banquet and awards program including Chester’s Maleia Absher, Aidan Blechle, Sydney Collins, Hanna Colvis, and Camrynn Howie.

To end the non-scholarship portion of the program, Principal Blechle introduced Will Schuwerk as the 2023 winner of the Illinois Principal’s Association (IPA) Award.

The second half of the Honors Night Program was the presentation of local monetary scholarship awards. In some cases the sponsors or representatives of these local sponsors were on hand to present the scholarship directly to the CHS seniors.

In cases where the sponsors were not available in person to present the award and discus details about the scholarship, CHS Guidance Counselor, Casey Hawkins, did the honors. Following is a list of scholarships, the presenters, and the corresponding senior recipients.

American Legion Post 487, Presented by Commander Randy Werner: Chelsea August, Emma Eggemeyer, Trace Fricke, Koby Jany, Kerrington Malley, Briley Miles, and Paige Vasquez

Buena Vista National Bank:  Presented by Tanya Cowan: Jacob Handel

 Camille Fieschi Chappius Memorial, Presented by Steve Colonel: Lily Smith & Chelsea August

Chester Chamber of Commerce, Presented by Linda Sympson: Savanna Guebert

Chester Eagles Aerie #3552, Presented by Paul Zemlyn: Kerrington Malley

Chester Educational Association, Presented by Sophia Durbin: Jacob Handel & Koby Jany

Chester High School Alumni, Presented by Paul Stallman: Camrynn Howie

Chester Masonic Lodge # 72, Presented by Mike Dethrow: Camrynn Howie, Kerrington Malley, & Matt James

Chester First United Methodist Men Scjholarship, Presented by , Presented by Casey Hawkins: Emma Eggemeyer

Chester VFW Post 3553, Presented by Ed Pierce: Trace Fricke & Camrynn Howie

Chester Woman’s Club, Presented by Norma Baughman & Paula Platt: Jacob Handel & Chelsea August

Chester Girl Scouts (Cohen Fund), Presented by Casey Hawkins: Julia Venus

Alice & Elmer Eggemeyer, Presented by Casey Hawkins: Briley Miles


Thomas & Pauline Evans, Presented by Casey Hawkins: Chelsea August

Chester Knights of Columbus, Presented by Steve Colonel: Koby Jany

Koeneman Family, Presented by Kyle Koeneman: Trace Fricke

Charles E. & Mary C. Lindwedel, Presented by Casey Hawkins: Reese McCormick, Savanna Guebert, & Briley Miles

Manor at Craig Farms, Presented by Casey Hawkins: Savanna Guebert

Marion Eye Center, Presented by Casey Hawkins: Cesar Marquez & Jacob Handel

Pat Mulholland, Presented by Bob Koenegstein: Jacob Handel

Randolph County Democrats, Presented by Justin Jeffers: Koby Jany

Chester Rotary Club, Presented by Tanya Cowan: Trace Fricke

Kaskaskia Lodge # 86 Schaffner Masonic Foundation, Presented by Richard Heuman: Reese McCormick, Jacob Handel, Hanna Colvis, & Paige Vasquez

Gary A. Schwent Memorial, Presented by Casey Hawkins: Camrynn Howie

Edna Sharp, Presented by Casey Hawkins: Camrynn Howie

Jake Sharp, Presented by Casey Hawkins: Trace Fricke

Roseanna-Sharp Meyers, Presented by Casey Hawkins: Emma Eggemeyer

Rebecca Young Memorial, Presented by Robin Barton: Casey Hawkins

Dr. Milton Zemlyn, Presented by Dr. James Krieg: Briley Miles

Red Cross Blood Drive, Presented by Casey Hawkins: Maleia Absher

Leah Ann Search Memorial, Presented by Casey Hawkins: Camrynn Howie

1st lt. Bruce R. Welge Memorial, Presented by Casey Hawkins: Paige Vasquez

Minton Insurance, Presented by Geralyn Minton: Savanna Guebert

YellowJacket’s Scholarship, Presented by Casey Hawkins: Aidan Blechle & Mikayla Straight

Randolph County Sheriff’s Scholarship, Presented by Sheriff Jarrod Peters: Koby Jany

Elks Students of the Year, Presented by David Heins: Aidan Blechle & Hanna Colvis

Randolph County Farm Bureau, Presented by Allyson Lintker: Koby Jany

State of Illinois 2023 Scholarship, Presented by Casey Hawkins: Maleia Absher

That concluded the monetary awards for 2023 graduates totaling $260,000 from the above 38 local sponsors. When other sources of monetary value were included, such as Academic Institution Scholarships, College Athletic Scholarships, and United States Military benefits, Chester High School 2023 seniors were awarded approximately 1.8 Million Dollars in assistance.

 Principal Jeremy Blechle presented seniors with Academic Awards. There are two types of Academic Awards, “Academic Certificates” and “Academic C’s and Bar’s”.

An Academic Certificate is earned by students that have a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 to 3.74 after their 1st, 3rd, 5th, or 7th semesters at CHS.

An Academic “C” is a letter that can be attached to a letter jacket or any other clothing item. The Academic “C” is earned by achieving a cumulative grade point average of 3.75 or above at the end of the 1st, 3rd, 5th, or 7th semesters at CHS.

Once an Academic “C” is earned, an Academic Bar can be earned in subsequent semesters. That bar can be attached to the Academic “C”.

Academic “C’s” and “Bar’s” were earned by Chelsea August, Jacob Handel, Briley Miles, Kerrington Malley, Trace Fricke, Mikayla Straight, Julia Venus, and Hanna Colvis.

To close out the program, Casey Hawkins, CHS Guidance Counselor, introduced seniors that have been awarded an Academic College Scholarships from institutions of higher learning, colleges, and universities, and trade schools.

Following the conclusion of the “Honors Night” ceremony, guests, students and sponsors were invited to enjoy delicious cupcakes and beverages. A photo session was also held on Rocky Bridges Court.

CHS Principal Jeremy Blechle presents CHS senior Will Schuwerk with the 2023 Illinois Principal’s Association (IPA) Award. Jim Beers Photo

Mikayla Straight and Aidan Blechle received the YellowJacket Scholarship at the 2023 CHS Honors Night Ceremony. Jim Beers Photo

Emma Eggemeyer, CHS senior, received the First United Methodist Men Scholarship for $1000. Jim Beers Photo

The following Chester High School seniors were recognized for serving on the 2022-2023 Teri Bryant Youth Advisory Council. Left to right are Hanna Colvis, Aidan Blechle, Maleia Absher, and Jacob Handel. Jim Beers Photo

Maleia Absher, CHS senior, received the very Prestigeous 2023 State of Illinois Scholarship. Jim Beers Photo

The Chester Rotary Scholarship was presented to CHS senior Trace Fricke by Tanya Cowan. Jim Beers Photo

Camrynn Howie was the recipient of the 2023 Rebecca Young Memorial Scholarship which is sponsored by Mike and Leslie Young and the Young Family. Jim Beers Photo

Koby Jany was the recipient of the Randolph County Farm Bureau Scholarship. This award was presented by Allyson Lintker. Jim Beers Photo

Masonic Lodge # 72 of Chester presented three scholarships in 2023. Pictured are Camrynn Howie and Kerrington Malley. Matt James was not present. Jim Beers Photo

Chester High School had four Illinois State Scholars this year and all four were recognized at the 2023 CHS Honors Night Ceremony Wednesday May 10th. Pictured are (left to right) Chelsea August, Jacob Handel, Briley Miles, and Will Schuwerk. Jim Beers Photo

Chelsea August received the Thomas R. and Pauline G. Evans Scholarship. Jim Beers Photo

Academic All-State honorees are Camrynn Howie and Jacob Handel. Jim Beers Photo

Paul Zemlyn, Past President of the Chester Eagles Aerie # 3252, presents the 2023 Eagles Scholarship to Kerrington Malley. Jim Beers Photo

Hanna Colvis was the 2023 Daughter’s of the American Revolution (DAR) Good Citizen Award winner. Jim Beers Photo

Julia Venus was a recipient of the 2023 Cohen Girl Scout Scholarship in Chester. Jim Beers Photo


CHS Teacher Sophia Durbin presents the 2023 Chester Educational Association Scholarships to Koby Jany (left) and Jacob Hendel (right). Jim Beers Photo

Three CHS seniors were the recipients of the 2023 Charles E. and Mary C. Lindwedel Scholarships this year including (left to right) Savanna Guebert, Briley Miles, and Reese McCormick. Jim Bers Photo

Steve Colonel, CHS Band and Choral Director, poses with the recipients of the Prestigeous 2023 Camille Fieschi Chappius Scholarship. Jim Beers Photo

Savanna Guebert poses for a photo with Linda Sympson after receiving the 2023 Chester Chamber of Commerce Scholarship. Jim Beers Photo

Paige Vasquez of Chester High School was the recipient of the 2023 1st Lt. Bruce R. Welge Memorial Scholarship. Jim Beers Photo 

Pictured is CHS School Guidance Counselor Casey Hawkins (left front) with all of the Chester High School senior honor students that were recognized Wednesday May 10th during the 2022-2023 Chester High School Honors Night. Besides several CHS non-scholarship awards, there were “local” College Scholarships presented valued at $260,000. According to CHS Principal Jeremy Blechle, when Acedemic Scholarships awarded directly from colleges, universities, and trade schools were figured in the mix along with Athletic Scholarships and Military Benefits, CHS seniors earned approximately 1.8 million dollars in awards. Jim Beers Photo