Villa Duchesne High School Student Wins Jack Buck Scholar-Leadership Award

Photo of Carole Buck, left, and Dr. Ken Dobbins, president of Southeast Missouri State University, right, presenting the Jack Buck Scholar-Leadership Award to Erin Meadows, center.

Carole Buck, wife of the late Jack Buck, presents the 2011 Jack Buck Scholar-Leadership Award to Erin Meadows, center, of Chesterfield, Mo. At right is Kenneth W. Dobbins, president of Southeast Missouri State University.

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., May 16, 2011 — A Villa Duchesne High School student who has excelled in the classroom and theatre and dance and is active in her community and school was named the recipient today of the ninth annual Jack Buck Scholar-Leadership Award by Southeast Missouri State University.

The award was presented today to Erin Meadows of Chesterfield, Mo., at the Student Achievement Luncheon at the Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark Hotel in downtown St. Louis.  Carole Buck, wife of the late Jack Buck, attended the luncheon to present the award to Meadows.  Kenneth W. Dobbins, president of Southeast Missouri State University, presented the finalist awards.

“Southeast Missouri State is very fortunate to have the Jack Buck Scholar-Leadership Award associated with our institution,” Dobbins said. “Jack Buck was a man of impeccable character, a humble gentleman who went about his business quietly, but whose humility and professionalism left a lasting impression of excellence.  We think these qualities are similar to those of Southeast, which has been cited nationally as a hidden treasure, a University with sound academic programs that is committed to our students and the values of our region.  We think Jack Buck would call this award in his name ‘a winner.’”

Meadows, daughter of Mary and Gary Meadows of Chesterfield, Mo., is an exemplary student with an outstanding academic record while actively participating in school, dance, theatre, church and community activities.  She served as founder and president of the West African Drumming Club and member of the show choir, advanced show choir, liturgy choir, National Honor Society, International Thespian Society, Debate Club and Technology Team.  An aspiring actress, Meadows has been very active with dancing, acting and theatre productions in school and the community.  She was selected to participate in the Missouri Fine Arts Academy and St. Louis Children’s Choir.  Throughout her time at Villa Duchesne, she has earned numerous awards including the Phi Beta Kappa Award, Best Social Action Project Award, Technology Award, Moral Development/Personal Growth Award and Integrated Physics Award.  Her community service has spread to Teen Variety, Bikes for Kids, Variety Theatre, the Villa Duchesne Christmas Basket Drive and her church.  She also served as a voting poll worker and a Taiwanese exchange student host.  While at Southeast, Meadows plans to pursue a degree in acting. 

In 2003, Southeast Missouri State University teamed up with KMOX Radio in the establishment of the award.  The award, which was the first scholarship to be established in memory of Buck, recognizes a student in the St. Louis Metropolitan Area who has demonstrated outstanding character, academic achievement and the potential to be a leader in the community.  The award covers incidental fees (tuition) and general fees for the equivalent of up to 32 credit hours per academic year at Southeast Missouri State University and residence hall fees for fall and spring semesters in a standard, double-occupancy room.  The award, which is effective with the fall 2011 semester, also provides a 15-meal per week board plan. 

Students from the St. Louis Metro Area, including St. Louis County and City, St. Charles County, Franklin County, Jefferson County, and the Metro East area in Illinois were eligible to apply for the award.  High school guidance counselors from the metropolitan area were asked to nominate one deserving applicant from their high school.

For nearly 50 years, Buck was the voice of the St. Louis Cardinals to generations of sports fans.  He passed away in 2002.  He was widely admired by his colleagues in the world of broadcasting and by the players whose feats he announced for fans around the world.  Buck worked tirelessly in support of charitable organizations and was committed to his family and his community.   

Four other finalists for the award also were recognized today.  All finalists receive a Jack Buck Regents’ Scholarship, which covers incidental fees (tuition) up to 32 hours per academic year for up to four consecutive years, and a one-time $500 Jack Buck Leadership Award to be applied to housing expenses.  They are:

Mallory ArensArens is the daughter of Bradley and Kara Arens of Bridgeton, Mo.  In her time at Pattonville High School, Arens has effectively balanced her academics and various leadership positions, serving as Future Educators Association chapter president and Missouri state president, student council representative, dance committee member, Renaissance Club member and chair, Teenage Health Consultants class leader and presenter, and National Honor Society member.  She was also captain of the varsity cheerleading squad and member of the soccer team and concert and jazz bands.  She qualified for the state competition of the Future Problem Solving Program and volunteered in her community with the Special Olympics and tutoring and mentoring at the elementary level.  She received the Bridgeton Day Camp Counselor of the Year Award as well.  At Southeast, Arens plans to pursue a degree in special education.

Blake Besancenez

Besancenez is the son of Deanna and David Besancenez of St. Peters, Mo.  He has been an exemplary student throughout his time at Barat Academy.  An active athlete and natural leader, Besancenez served as co-founder and vice president of Ping Pong Club and member of National Honor Society, FCA and Golf Club. He was the junior varsity baseball team captain, junior varsity and varsity soccer team captain and member of the basketball team. Besancenez was honored as an All-State Academic in baseball and MVP of the soccer team.  He has earned various awards which include the KMOX Student of Achievement Award, Lindenwood Book Winner Award, Award of Excellence, Barat Academy Director of Students Award, Barat Academy Pre-Calculus Award and Barat Academy Grow Award.  Besancenez has given back to his community by being active in his church and volunteering as a tutor and for the American Red Cross, VFW, O.A.S.I.S. Food Pantry, Life Skills, Our Lady’s Inn and Barat Baseball Camp. Besancenez plans to pursue a degree in medicine.

Kaitlyn Holtgrave

Holtgrave is the daughter of Brian and Kellye Holtgrave of Breese, Ill.  At Mater Dei Catholic High School, Holtgrave has proven to be the ideal student, having served as secretary of Student Council, vice president of National Honor Society and member of Future Business Leaders of America and Pep Club.  She was also a member of the soccer and volleyball teams, concert band and winter drumline.  She served as drum major for her school’s marching band and as student ambassador.  Holtgrave was recognized as a student of the quarter and student of the week at her high school.  She has given back to her community by being active in her church and church youth organization, serving as a math peer tutor and volunteering for Big Brothers Big Sisters.  Holtgrave plans to pursue a degree in business while at Southeast.

Kamilah Jones

Jones is the daughter of Ernest and Lenora Jones of St. Louis, Mo.  While at Lutheran High School North, Kamilah has been very active in athletics, academics and community activities.  She served as a member of National Honor Society, Student Council, Future Business Leaders of America and band.  She was also founder and facilitator of the Diversity Awareness Group and a student ambassador. Her athletic activities include involvement in cheerleading, track and field, basketball and volleyball. Jones was honored with the Valparaiso Award for Excellence and received a first place award at Math and Science Bowl. She has given back to her community through her school’s “Faith in Action” days, volunteering at vacation bible school, being an activities coordinator for a local daycare and serving as a caregiver to the elderly. She also served as a teacher’s assistant at a local elementary school and community college. Jones plans to pursue a degree in law.