Kiwanians laud students, Bess at annual banquet

Culver's Kiwanis Club continued its annual tradition of helping two outstanding local youth in their post-high school journeys -- lauding an outstanding Kiwanian along the way -- at the club's awards banquet last Thursday at the Culver Cove banquet room.

Lauded at the event were Culver Girls Academy grad Sarah Jamieson and Culver Community High School grad John Ahlenius, both of Culver.
Among many accomplishments during her high school career, Jamieson was a cross country runner (and team captain), member of the swim team, track team captain, involved with Relay for Life, the Vedette student newspaper, Spanish and French Clubs, the Mexico Mission trip, National Junior Honor Society, and ran a half-marathon for Opportunity Enterprises Inc., which assists individuals with disabilities. She plans to attend Miami of Ohio to study elementary education.

John Ahlenius was a Boys State delegate, member of National Honor Society, Art Club president, multiple award winning football player, sectional champ in wrestling, track pole-vaulter, member of the CAVS Service Club, CYCO service club, BIRD service project, and assisted with the Culver Boys & Girls Club steering committee. He plans to study agri-business at Purdue University.

Introducing the recipient of the Barbara Winters Award for Excellence, retired longtime CCHS teacher Winters called this year's changes "a major step forward for Kiwanis." She said when the club's scholarship program began in 2003, it was "pretty fledgling," and the goal was to establish renewable scholarships for local students. She explained that last year the club had the foresight to take surplus funds and apply them to their fund at the Marshall County Community Foundation at the latter's "12-12-12" matching event. As a result, scholarship recipients may now apply to the Kiwanis Club for scholarship renewals each year.

Winters also said the additional scholarship bearing her name was a retirement gift from her husband, Ralph, and is awarded to one recipient each year. This year's recipient was Ahlenius, who Winters said "everybody knows," due to his regular presence at service events in the community.

Accepting the Barbara Winters Award for Excellence, Ahlenius said he "couldn't have done so much by myself. There are a lot of people in the community helping plan events...there was a lot on my plate at times, but I really have to thank the people who helped me along the way."

Kiwanis president Trent Bennett told the group there were four scholarships at the awards banquet in years past, but this year's reduction to two is due to the newly renewable nature of those scholarships.

"We felt keeping the kids in school was something we wanted to do," he added, noting the club's various fund-raising events throughout the year make up the balance of funds used for scholarships outside what's drawn from the MCCF fund.

Bennett also introduced this year's Kiwanian of the Year, a designation voted upon by members; past recipients, he noted, have included Dusty Henricks, Dick Brantingham, and Latham Lawson, among others.

Introducing recipient Julie Bess, Bennett said many members who work their way up to the position of president within the club -- as Bess has been -- "then fade, but she hasn't."

Instead, he said, Bess remains active, chairing the club's fund raising committee, golf outing, by-law committee, and now its scholarship committee.