Huntley 158 Education Foundation

The Huntley District 158 Education Foundation is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2020 Student Scholarship Awards and the James “Barney” Manning Memorial Scholarship with a combined total of $13,000.

This year, the Foundation received 52 applications from Huntley High School seniors all vying for an opportunity to be selected for a chance to receive financial assistance for continuing their education. Following an online application process which included a series of questions and a statement explaining the reasons for the applicant’s school choice, area of study, career goals and how they plan to achieve those goals, 18 finalists were selected for in-person/Zoom interviews. Scholarship Committee Chairperson Roger Schroepfer and Foundation members Anita Adams and Sean Cratty conducted the interviews over a 2-day period before determining this years’ recipients.

Scholarship recipients demonstrated a positive engagement in community service, active participation in extracurricular activities, effective leadership qualities, strong academic strength, and a desire to achieve on the collegiate or trade school level.

Below is the 2020 class of students who will receive scholarships:

Rafael De La Paz, $2,500  Rafael will attend University of Iowa where he will major in Actuarial Science at the College of Liberal Arts and Science. During high school, he played basketball and lacrosse, and participated in the Ultimate Frisbee Club, National Honor Society, Future Business Leaders of America, World Language Club, and was an active Raider Nation Leader. Rafael was also a senior patrol leader with the Boy Scouts of America as well as a middle school small group leader for Willow Creek Huntley’s Youth Group. “These activities have allowed me to give back to other people and be there to serve others.”

Victoria Smolen, $2,000  Although currently undecided which university she will attend this fall, Victoria knows her course of study will be Computer Science. Victoria was very active during high school and participated in several activities including: Theatre, Silver Cord, National Honor Society, Varsity Speech Team, Thespian Honors Society, Yearbook, and was founder of GEMS Outreach. Her involvement in non-school activities included a Bystronic Summer Internship and Code Ninjas of Algonquin as a Code Sensei. She was also a three-time award winner and Illinois state affiliate for NCWIT (National Center for Women in IT). “Participating in these activities allowed me to make friends with students who shared my interests, and taught me how to be a good role model, and how to handle stressful situations with ease and problem-solve real-world issues with others.”

Jacklyn Fiandaca, $1,500  In the fall, Jacklyn will attend University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign where she will major in Biology with pursuits of one day entering the medical field as a veterinarian or otherwise. Throughout high school, she played softball, was accepted into HHS’s Medical Academy Program, and participated in National Honor Society, Silver Cord, and HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America). She was an English tutor her junior year, President of the Zoology Club during her junior and senior years, and was part of the Youth Residency Program through Northwestern Hospital Huntley during her senior year. “Participating in the medical academy, youth residency program, and HOSA have helped me to refine my career choices through exposure to a variety of different medically related careers and topics.”

Karly Melendy, $1,500  Karly will be attending Illinois State University where she will major in Exercise Science in anticipation of becoming a physical therapist. School activities included Link Crew, Medical Club, as well as Co-Founder and Co-President of the Red Raider LEO’s Club (a student based group of the Huntley Area Lions Club). Karly was also a Sparkle Squad Coach for a special needs cheerleading team, and a volunteer for several community group events including the Huntley Hootenanny, Turning Point, and the Huntley Area Lions Club. “Growing up, my family has instilled a sense of community, civic duty, and responsibility. I have walked in parades, worked on campaigns, and volunteered at several events, all the while learning the importance of giving back to my community.”

Taylor Stephenson, $1,500  Taylor has ambitions of obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a minor in Psychology at Loyola University Chicago. During high school, she played tennis and was Captain of the Girls Golf Team her senior year, and participated in the Youth Residency Program, National Honor Society, Silver Cord, Science Olympiad, and HOSA Medical Club where she was elected as a Board member her senior year. Outside of school, Taylor worked at Pinecrest Golf Club, was a Junior PGA Assistant Coach, and also was a part of the National Student Leadership Conference. “I have decided to pursue a career in the medical field because of my love of science, learning new things, and the ability to help people.”

Allison Galante, $1,000  In the fall, Allison will be attending the University of South Carolina where she will pursue a degree in Criminology. Allison played basketball throughout high school and was selected Captain for three years due to her leadership skills. She was also a Raider Nation Leader and a member of National Honor Society. Active outside of school, she coached a special needs dance team, participated in Big Brothers Big Sisters, and a high school ministry group, along with several other activities. “Big Brothers Big Sisters taught me one of the most important lessons: life is not about materialistic gain, but about enjoying the little things and making the best of every moment.”

Grace Gatto, $1,000  Grace plans on attending Illinois State University this fall where she will major in Music Education. In school, she was active in Marching Band and was selected as drum major for her junior and senior years, was a member of the Jazz Band, Pep Band, the Huntley Saxophone Quartet, the McHenry County Honor Band, and competed in solo and ensemble contests for several years, just to name a few. Outside of school, she volunteered in the EFCCL’s Sunday School and AWANA Programs, sang in the church choir, and attended Illinois Summer Youth Music Camps. “These activities have shaped me into who I am today through the skills that I have learned and the friendships I have made. They have also given me a taste of what I will do as a future music educator.”

Olivia Wombacher, $1,000  This fall, Olivia will double major in Elementary Education and Spanish at the University of Alabama. Olivia’s school activities included World Language Club as a Lead Officer, National Honor Society, Silver Cord (earned 95 volunteer hours), Student Council, and Varsity Lacrosse Team as Captain during her junior and senior years. She was also a Youth Ministry Small Group Leader her freshman through senior years. “Participating in these activities allowed me to become more outgoing and confident. They taught me how to step up and lead.”

Taylor Calame, $500 James “Barney” Manning and $500 Education Foundation  Taylor plans on attending McHenry County College to complete her general requirements before transferring to a four-year university. During school, she participated on the Red Raiders Dance Team, Silver Cord, The Voice (school newspaper), and was a social media editor for Harmony (school yearbook). During her junior year, Taylor received a National Community Merit Award, recognizing her for 71 hours of service to others with special dedication as a path to transform our world. At the beginning of her senior year with the help of her family, Taylor started a very successful small home-based cookie business, Cookies by T. “My career choices remain open at this time as I am interested in both Aviation and Speech Pathology. My time will be dedicated to my studies with future goals of success. I will continue to serve my community by engaging in any volunteer opportunities that may be available.”

The Education Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization that works with the School District and community to provide scholarships to high school seniors and grants to teachers for innovative programs in their classrooms.

Special thanks to the community, local businesses, and key supporters of the Foundation without whom we would not be able to provide this wonderful opportunity to our students.

For more information about the District 158 Education Foundation, please visit the Foundation webpage at

Best wishes and congratulations to the entire 2020 graduating class of Huntley High School!

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