A Publication of WTVP

A Sterling Example of Excellence

by Peoria Magazine |
Rotary emblem with title rev1

Best and brightest honored at Rotary Clubs’ 64th annual Sterling Merit Awards

Created to recognize and reward academic excellence, the Sterling Merit Awards program was begun by the Junior League of Peoria in 1959. After nine years of shepherding the annual awards banquet, then held at Peoria’s Exposition Gardens, the Junior League went in search of another organization to carry the torch forward.

184 Students Were Recognized for Classroom Achievement

In 1968, the Rotary Club of Peoria stepped up to do just that. “Service above self” is the aim of Rotary and all Rotarians, and today the event is sponsored by five area Rotary organizations — Peoria’s Downtown and North clubs along with the Rotaries of East Peoria, Farmington and Chillicothe.

Those clubs currently honor students from 16 Peoria area high schools: Brimfield, Dunlap, East Peoria, Elmwood, Farmington Central, Illini Bluffs, Illinois Valley Central, Limestone, Manual Academy, Peoria Christian, Peoria, Peoria Heights, Peoria Notre Dame, Princeville, Quest Academy and Richwoods.

In honoring those high school graduates who have attained the highest standing in their classes — the top 8% — the Sterling Merit Awards ceremony enhances the incentive for scholastic achievement through public recognition. It is Rotary’s sincere hope that the connotation of “sterling” — applying equally to these students and their awards — will encourage all to continually strive for quality in their every endeavor.

This year’s banquet was held on May 9 at the Peoria Civic Center Ballroom. Presiding over the event was Rotarian Dr. William Albers. Keynote remarks were delivered by Dr. Sheila Quirk-Bailey, president of Illinois Central College. In addition to the 184 students who were honored for their academic accomplishment, another 16 received special mention for “outstanding” classroom performance at their respective institutions. Those students were Sydney Barnes at Brimfield High, Pearl Patel at Dunlap High, Ian Thrall at East Peoria High, Breanna German at Elmwood High, Erica Riccioni at Farmington Central, Autumn Gray at Illini Bluffs, David Russell at Illinois Valley Central, Morgan Stephens at Limestone Community, Jorge Romero at Manual Academy, Serena Wei at Peoria Christian, Denali Craig Edwards at Peoria High, Jaela Pierson at Peoria Heights High, Edward Couri at Notre Dame High, Brenna Schupbach at Princeville High, Alexcia Smith at Quest Academy, and Mariah Cade at Richwoods High.

Nearly 600 students, parents, school officials and Rotarians attended this 2023 event.

Brimfield High School

Elmwood High School

Dunlap High School

East Peoria Community High School

Farmington Central High School

Illini Bluffs High School

Illinois Valley Central High School

Limestone Community High School

Manual Academy

Peoria Christian High School

Peoria Heights High School

Peoria High School

Peoria Notre Dame High School

Princeville High School

Quest Academy

Richwoods High School