Twenty-four graduating high school student-athletes, representing Harford County's 12 public and private high schools, will be honored at the 31st Annual Al Cesky Scholarship Fund's awards banquet Wednesday night at the Richlin Ballroom in Edgewood, beginning at 6 p.m.
Two of the scholarship winners, one male and one female, will receive scholarship awards amounting to $5,000 each from the ACSF to help defray the cost of their post-secondary education. The remaining 22 winners will each receive $2,000 scholarships for a combined total of $54,000. Nominations are based on the graduating high school students' academic and athletic achievements along with demonstrated leadership, community service experience and financial need.
This year's keynote speaker will be Rob Ambrose, head coach of Towson University's football team. Sportscaster Scott Garceau will serve as the master of ceremonies.
Selection committees within the individual schools nominated the 24 scholarship recipients. The ACSF selection committee then anonymously reviews the applications submitted, using these same criteria, to select the two $5,000 winners.
The 2016 Al Cesky Scholarship winners are: Maria Auth (North Harford High), Andrew Brndjar (Aberdeen), Dante Brown (C. Milton Wright), Anne Capozzoli (C. Milton Wright), Gillian Chase (Harford Technical), David Dzambasow (Edgewood), Ian Edwards (Harford Christian), Nick Godsey (Joppatowne), Claire Grunewald (John Carroll), Kaley Harris (Havre de Grace), Ken Ikemoto (Patterson Mill), Kyle Keating (North Harford), Evan Kern (Bel Air), Taylor Lavin (Harford Christian), Rachel McCarthy (Edgewood), Megan O'Neill (Fallston), Kurt Rawlings (John Carroll), Nina Scher (Patterson Mill), Andrea Sipos (Bel Air), Thomas Streett (Fallston), Jacob Sweigart (Havre de Grace), Stephanie West (Joppatowne), Andrew Woods (Harford Technical) and Kiera Young (Aberdeen).
Of the 12 young men and 12 young women being honored, all intend to further their education. Ten are three-sport athletes and 17 served as team captains at the varsity level. Twelve earned All-County honors, five earned All-Conference recognition and two were recognized with All-Metro and All-State accolades.
Academically, 14 nominees are distinguished honor roll students and 20 belong to the National Honor Society. Six have earned recognition as Advanced Placement Scholars and three are National Merit Scholars.
Ten of the students are members of the school band, orchestra or choir and five have been involved in drama or musical productions. Three students serve on the staff of the school newspaper or yearbook and eight are active in student government affairs. Two young men are Eagle Scouts.
All of the winners are service volunteers in their schools, churches or community. Besides their academic studies and extracurricular activities, almost all work part-time, including jobs as referees, youth coaches, camp counselors, lifeguards, baby sitters, food service workers and retail staff.
The Al Cesky Scholarship Fund was created in memory of the late Bel Air High School teacher, coach, mentor and friend who helped shape the lives of many Harford County young people, not to mention a fair number of older folks, too, prior to his untimely death in 1985.
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His memory has lived on in the hundreds of Harford high school seniors who have received Al Cesky Scholarships in the ensuing 31 years.