ALMA — Thirteen students from nine high schools in Gratiot, Isabella and Montcalm counties were the winners of the Alma College Community Engagement (ACE) Scholarship Program award this year. The ACE program rewards students for their active volunteer service and involvement in their schools and local communities.

Students who won ACE scholarships receive full tuition scholarships to attend Alma College, beginning in fall 2023.

“We can’t wait to see what these academically successful and highly involved students do when they get to campus at Alma College,” said Andrew Pomerville, assistant vice president for community engagement and director of the Center for College and Community Engagement at Alma College.

“These students, who are already local to the mid-Michigan area, will have many opportunities to continue doing work to benefit their native areas, while growing as students and human beings. We are so happy to offer them the opportunity to pursue their education goals at Alma College, where they’ll be prepared for leadership opportunities and a rewarding career.”

Community service is a major component of the ACE Scholars Program. It not only rewards community involvement that students demonstrate in high school, it supports continuing community service and leadership. During their four years at Alma College, the scholars will volunteer with local agencies, serve as community engagement ambassadors, attend workshops and professional development conferences and participate in service/leadership student organizations.

This year’s recipients represent the sixth class of ACE Scholars, bringing the total number of recipients from Gratiot, Isabella and Montcalm counties to 64 students. Each ACE Scholar has been awarded full-tuition scholarships, inclusive of institutional, state and federal aid.

Emma Nelson gives back to her community by volunteering as a teacher’s aide at Breckenridge Elementary School and at a church daycare. A senior at Breckenridge High School, Nelson’s favorite teacher is John Kolat, because he “makes you want to exceed expectations.” Nelson is a member of the National Honor Society and has received numerous awards for academic excellence. She is the daughter of Tami LaMee of Breckenridge.

Jacob Jerome, a senior at Ithaca High School, is a dedicated student-athlete who has been named Academic All-State in football and baseball. He is also involved in National Honor Society and Junior Rotary. His favorite teacher is Jordan Hessbrook because “he always believed in me.” Jerome plans to eventually work in the physical therapy field. He is the son of Melissa and Paul Jerome of Sumner.

Ava Atchinson, a senior at Alma High School, is the vice president of National Honor Society and a member of Student Council. She is a scholar-athlete in basketball, volleyball, soccer and has won the MHSAA Sportsmanship Award for volleyball. She eventually plans to work either as a pediatric counselor or an elementary school teacher. Her parents are Angela and Aaron Atchinson of Elwell.

Bronson Bupp, a senior at Ithaca High School, dreams of someday working in the business field. His favorite high school teacher is Sheila Casey, “because she shows up to school every day, no matter what.” Among his extracurricular activities are National Honor Society, Peer to Peer, Above the Influence and Junior Rotary. He is the son of Brandie and Matt Bupp of Alma.

Ruby Frisch, a senior at Farwell Area High School, is involved in band, golf, drama, color guard and the Youth Advisory Committee. Her favorite teacher is Meaghan Scott, because “she helped me develop my confidence on the stage and in the classroom.” Frisch’s plans for after college involve joining the Peace Corps. She is the daughter of Heather Prout of Farwell and Andy Frisch of Clare.

Bruce Thelen, a senior at Fulton High School, lists Steven Clements as his favorite high school teacher, because “he is a good role model and always has a positive attitude.” Thelen is a member of National Honor Society and has received numerous Academic Excellence and Pirate Pride awards. He dreams of someday working in the physical therapy field. Thelen is the son of Kandy and Bruce Thelen of Perrinton.

Erica Johnson, a senior at Ithaca High School, is a team captain on the Yellowjackets’ varsity tennis team and was the lead role in the musical “Legally Blonde.” Her favorite high school teacher is Jason Marcy, because “he teaches his students not to seek the approval of others in their projects.” She helps tutor younger children and helps set up and organize blood drives. She is the daughter of Beth and Steven Johnson of Ithaca.

Oisin O’Grady hopes to someday run his own, successful business. A senior at Carson City-Crystal High School, O’Grady’s favorite teacher is Shawn Bollinger, because he is “always trying to teach his students skills applicable to real life and to become deeper thinkers.” O’Grady has numerous extracurricular involvements, including roadside [trash] pickup, concessions and merchandise sales at his school’s sporting events. He is the son of Beth and Shaun O’Grady of Hubbardston.

Zoe Hedrick, a senior at Alma High School, has been a member of the Panthers’ girls varsity soccer team for three years and is involved in the Police Athletic League. She dreams of someday working as an elementary school teacher and a firefighter. Her favorite teacher is Robert March, because “he believed in me and pushed me to do things that were out of my comfort zone.” She is the daughter of Kate Studley and Jeff Hedrick of Alma.

Katelyn Schell dreams of someday working as an elementary education teacher and a volleyball coach. A senior at Mount Pleasant High School, Schell is involved in 4-H, National Honor Society and the Educational Careers Advisory Committee. She has been on the honor roll for four years and was named MPHS’ “student of the month” for February 2023. She is the daughter of Amy and Daniel Schell of Mount Pleasant.

Liliana Catrell dreams of pursuing a career in creative writing and English, either as an editor or an author. A senior at Shepherd High School, Catrell’s favorite high school teacher is Ryan Winters, “because of his dedication to the growth of the band program and its students.” Catrell is involved in the Mackinac Island Scout Service Camp, Girl Scouts, National Honor Society and Shepherd bands. They are the child of Allison and Steven Catrell of Shepherd.

Madalynn Laskey, a senior at Tri County High School, counts Laura Readle as her favorite high school teacher, because she helped Laskey “prepare … for college-level work in the field that I am interested in.” Laskey is involved in Howard City Rocket Cheerleading, Tri County Competitive Youth Cheerleading, Grand Rapids West Catholic Youth Cheerleading clinics, the Howard City Harvest Festival and Be Nice. She is the daughter of Jennifer and Richard Laskey of Howard City.

Devyn Whitford, an Ithaca High School senior, combines community service with stellar work in the classroom. Among the activities he is involved with are serving at the Dream Works Resale Shoppe to support children with special needs and serving at the Lansing Soup Kitchen through the Ithaca Church of God youth program. Whitford is also a member of National Honor Society and Model United Nations. He is the son of Jennifer and Kent Whitford of Ithaca.