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Kalamazoo County Honors 33rd Annual Excellence in Education Scholarship Recipients

Kalamazoo County’s outstanding high school seniors and their significant educators were recognized for their high academic achievements on Wednesday, April 17, at the 33rd annual Excellence in Education Awards Banquet.

Excellence in Education scholarship recipient with family  The 47 high school seniors were joined by their families, significant educators and local educational leaders to celebrate their outstanding academic achievements at Western Michigan University’s Fetzer Center.

Over the course of its lifetime, the Excellence in Education endowment has awarded a total of $1,319,799 in scholarship funds to 1,802 outstanding high school seniors. Additionally, $578,791 in professional development grants have been awarded to 738 educators.

Keevin O’Neil, Chair of the Excellence in Education Steering Committee and Vicksburg Community Schools Superintendent, offered a few words of wisdom to the graduating class of 2019.

“You know that today’s excellence can quickly become tomorrow’s ordinary… Continuing excellence is marked by striving with passion, vision, preparation, courage, perseverance and integrity,” advised O’Neil.

This year’s esteemed guest speaker was Dr. L. Marshall Washington, President of Kalamazoo Valley Community College. Dr. Washington’s remarks offered honest advice on the authentic and relentless pursuit of your dreams:

Be curious; Read books that make you think; Ask questions; Don’t whine; Surround yourself with people who want to help you grow; Admit mistakes; Monitor progress; Live the life you imagine; Don’t pretend like you know it all; Celebrate yourself and those who supported you along the way; Dream again.

“Don’t doubt for a second that you have dreams worth pursuing,” encouraged Dr. Washington.

O’Neil also asked those in attendance to recognize several retiring Excellence in Education Steering Committee members, including former Committee Chair Charles Glaes with 13 years of service, as well as Nancy Timmons and Mindi Miller who both served on the committee for four years.

The Excellence in Education program also awarded eight Educator Incentive Grants to provide funding for local teachers and administrators to explore new ideas to enhance their teaching styles, as well as to continue to motivate and inspire their students.

The Excellence in Education program is the result of vital collaboration among all Kalamazoo County public and non-public schools, local foundations, education groups and the business community.

 “I hope that as you continue to strive for excellence, you frequently reflect upon and share your gratitude with those who have helped you,” implored O’Neil.

View photos from the 33rd Annual Excellence in Education Awards Banquet on the Kalamazoo RESA Facebook page.


Congratulations to the 2019 Kalamazoo County Excellence in Education scholarship recipients:

Climax-Scotts High School

Jake Lane


Comstock High School

Audrey Rabick

Branden Willis


Galesburg-Augusta High School

Jonah Fleck


Gull Lake High School

Caleb Collard

Rylee Meints

MiaFlora Tucci

Justin Walker

Makenzie Wank


Hackett Catholic Prep

Molly Harding


Heritage Christian Academy

Austin Strahan


Kalamazoo Christian High School

Rachel Pease


Kalamazoo Central High School

Allie Al-Faraj

Hannah Glass-Chapman

Mei Lanting

Kevin Mehta

William Shaw

Suja Thakali


Loy Norrix High School

Tess Cowles

Carter Eisenbach

Robert Isacksen

Will Keller

Thomas Outinen

Christian Zehner


Parchment High School

Jordan Leh

Christina Miller


Portage Central High School

Caleb Crooks

Suyash Dixit

Jack Liu

Saaketh Medepalli

Owen Miller

Kaoru Murai

Hrishikesh Vaddineni


Portage Northern High School

Isaac Bagley

Carter Briggs

Emma Fischell

Nicholas Ghosh

Isaac Huffman

Sharon Shaw

Elizabeth Wang


Schoolcraft High School

Connor Nutt

Joshua Wujkowski


Vicksburg High School

Jacob Cleaver

Casey Hall

Madeline Ritter

Tyler Vallier