Once again, the Alton Education Foundation has contributed to the future of students who set an example of inspiration and compassion.
This year, it awarded two scholarships through the foundation and one scholarship in conjunction with Lewis and Clark Community College to two Alton High School students. The AEF is designed to acknowledge and reward those who excel academically and also care for and serve the community.
“Our mission for what we are trying to promote in the community is that we are an organization that gives back,” AEF President Dr. Ryan Bemis said.
Throughout the year, students are encouraged to apply for the scholarship.
“I think there is more to being a student than just getting good grades,” Bemis said. “Community service teaches students good values and more of what life is about.”
The AEF also gives back to teachers in the area through the Guardians of Education program, providing funding for innovative teaching methodologies not routinely funded by tax dollars.
“(We have) given back $20,000 to teachers this year alone,” Bemis said.
Donations are welcome for the Guardians of Education Program. To learn more or make a donation, please go to www.altoned.org.
Emily Formea, 18, received a $500 scholarship from the AEF in honor of her commitment to community service and academic performance.
Emily’s list of community involvement is an example of what the foundation says is an important part of today’s youth. While her school extracurricular activities include student council, tennis, biology club and the Redbird Nest, her involvement outside of school is just as lengthy. Emily is a volunteer for Catholic Charities, PRIDE, the Red Cross blood drive, Relay for Life and also devotes her time and energy at local soup kitchens.
Emily is also a youth worship leader with Encounter, a youth worship group that travels to churches and performs worship services for churchgoers. It also provides service to soup kitchens.
“It really brings you closer to God and strengthens your relationship with Him and other youth in the area,” she said. “It is an incredible group.”
Emily, the daughter of Robert and Dawn Formea, ranked 15 of 526 in Alton High School’s graduating class of 2015. She will be attending Bradley University in Peoria in the fall, where she will major in molecular biology and genetics.
“I became interested in molecular biology when we studied an entire chapter this year on genes and gene sequencing,” she said. “I just found it incredible how complex our bodies are … I have always wanted to enter a field where I could help others and really make a difference and through genetics, I found that I really can work toward a healthier and happier tomorrow for those who need support and hopeful research to cure diseases.”
Emily also volunteers once a year in Edwardsville by helping host the prom held for all of the special needs students in the school district. The volunteers not only decorate and attend the prom, but help the students get ready to enjoy the night, as well.
During her junior year in high school, Emily began a foundation called Step-in for Charity, in conjunction with Catholic Charities, raising hundreds of dollars for the organization.
“I sold shoes I designed myself to raise money, and I also held a few bake sales throughout my high school years to try and give back to those who were less fortunate,” she said.
Although she says she will miss her family, friends and hometown, she is looking forward to taking in the culture at Bradley.
“I am looking forward to making as many friends and memories in college as possible,” she said. “I love being involved in everything. I cannot wait to just dive right into the Bradley way.”
When looking back on her accomplishments, Emily says a positive attitude during hard times is what really matters.
“I have learned that life is a beautiful thing, there will always be bad and negativity in the world, but the light will always outshine the darkness.”
Matthew Maag, 18, received a $500 scholarship from the Alton Educational Foundation and the Lewis and Clark Scholarship of $725.
For the past four years, Matthew has excelled academically. He has consistently earned a place on the school’s High Honor Roll and received Congressional recognition every semester for his outstanding academic achievements. Matthew was also selected as the Alton Rotary Student of the Month during February.
Not only has Matthew been a dedicated student with his academics, but he has also been strongly involved in Student Council, National Honor Society, Alton Marching 100, Redbird Nest, and Special Olympics. Each of these organizations gave him the opportunity to learn and grow as a student and individual.
Matthew said that out of all the organizations he participated in, the most life changing experiences came from Special Olympics.
“When I joined Special Olympics as a freshman it wasn’t just an opportunity to participate in Alton Athletics,” said Matthew. “It opened my world and allowed me to grow as an individual and a student at Alton High School. The people involved in this organization all share main goals of inclusion, respect, and unification between other athletes.”
Over the course of his high school career, Matthew has won a total of 20 gold medals, two silver medals, and four bronze medals in regional and state level competitions. Matthew led fundraising efforts as a member of the Polar Plunge team. He raised $3200 for Special Olympics Illinois and was recognized as one of the top state fundraisers. This summer, Matthew has been invited to carry the Torch of Hope representing Illinois for the unified sports campaign presented by Special Olympics.
During his sophomore year, he was also trained and became a Global Messenger for Special Olympics. His main focus became delivering messages to various venues encouraging volunteers and qualified athletes to join.
“It was just uncomfortable for me to speak to people and I found my voice through Special Olympics as one of their Global Messengers,” said Matthew. “I am so thankful and I want to give back to this organization to help those with disabilities who can’t speak for themselves to gain equivalent treatment and respect.”
Matthew is the son of Lisa and Gregory Maag, and ranked 84 of 552 in Alton High School’s graduating class of 2015. He plans to attend Lewis and Clark Community in the fall, majoring in Graphic Arts. Once he completes his first degree, Matthew plans on moving to Webster University to specialize in animation and videogame app design. His creative endeavors have been recently recognized through his graphic art designs and completed masterpieces from his art and woodworking courses. AHS also recognized his abilities by selecting his submission in the 2015-2016 Alton High School Cover Contest for their agendas.
Emily Formea information submitted by Christian Gully; Matthew Maag information submitted by Madelyne Maag.