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Applications are now available for the 2020 Rising Star Scholarship! Graduating high school seniors who reside in Marseilles or Seneca, Illinois can apply for The Rising Star Scholarship in late January each year. This generous scholarship, created by Ethel McConnell, is presented to a student enrolled in Illinois State University to pursue a teaching degree in Elementary Education.

Your contribution to support the Rising Star Scholarship is most welcome.

The 2019 Rising Star Scholarship was awarded to Katie Varland, a graduate of IVCC, who is currently attending Illinois State University. Katie is an art education major at ISU and intends to teach at the K-12 grade level. The Scholarship was established by a generous donor, Ethel McConnell, who cherished her career as an elementary education teacher for many years throughout LaSalle County.


Sedona Parks, of Marseilles, received the $5,000 Rising Star Scholarship for 2018. Sedona attends ISU in Normal, Illinois and is majoring in Elementary Education. Congrats, Sedona!

Ethel was so excited about the success of her 2017 Scholarship Winner, Avri Bland, that she decided to request another $5,000 Scholarship for Avri at ISU for the 2018-2019 school year!

Sincere thanks to Ethel McConnell for making these generous scholarships happen! Pictured below – Sedona, Avri and Ethel!

2017 Winner of the Rising Star Scholarship

Rising Star Scholarship winner, Avri Bland, (second from right), is pictured with (from left) her father, Steve Bland; SRCCF Board Member Pastor Kris Zierke; and Avri’s mother, Stefani Bland.

The Starved Rock Country Community Foundation is honored to announce that the Rising Star Scholarship has been awarded to Avri Bland, of Seneca, Illinois. Avri is a graduate of Seneca High School, and has completed her studies at Illinois Valley Community College. Avri will attend Illinois State University for the 2017-2018 academic year to study Elementary Education.

The Rising Star Scholarship was created by an anonymous donor who cherished her 40-year career as an elementary education teacher. The Scholarship is offered annually to a high-school graduate who resides in Seneca or Marseilles, and who will continue their education at ISU in the field of Elementary Education. Avri Bland is the first recipient of this prestigious and valuable scholarship award of $5000. She is the daughter of Steve and Stefani Bland, of Seneca.

Avri, throughout her high-school career, never wavered from her desire to become a teacher. She indicated in her scholarship application that she knew by her sophomore year in high school that she would attend Illinois State University to realize her dream. Avri recently demonstrated continued high academic achievement and leadership, particularly in her success by completing enough college credits to enter ISU as a junior at the age of 19.

“We are delighted to award the Rising Star Scholarship to Avri”, said Jay McCracken, the former Superintendent of Putnam County Schools, an IVCC Board Member and the Chairman of the SRCCF Board of Directors. “We extend our sincere congratulations to her as the first winner of this most generous scholarship, made possible by a former ISU graduate and life-long educator.”