Brett Kirton receives final Kayrene Uehlinger Scholarship

Image: Ranae Harrison, Debbie Hyles, Ronnie Clanton, members of the Italy High School class of 1968; along with Brett Kirton and Homer Uehlinger.

Ranae Harrison, Debbie Hyles, Ronnie Clanton, members of the Italy High School class of 1968; along with Brett Kirton and Homer Uehlinger. (Alysa Kirton photo)

It was a bittersweet Sunday for members of Central Baptist Church in Italy as member of the Italy High School class of 1968 presented its last Kayrene Uehlinger Scholarship.

Ronnie Clanton, retired school teacher and member of the class of 1968, presented this year’s scholarship to Brett Kirton, an active member of the church’s youth group.

In making the announcement, Clanton thanked those class members who worked diligently through the years to make this scholarship possible – Ranae Harrison, Debbie Hyles, Karen Mathiowetz and Charles Wade.

This scholarship was established after Uehlinger lost her 14 year battle with cancer in August of 2007. Former classmates wanted to honor her for all she had done to help others. Uehlinger was an active member of Central Baptist Church. Before she got sick, Uehlinger and her husband, Homer, were active in the youth department.

Clanton said due to economic constraints, the group, along with the Uehlinger family, decided to make this the last year for the Kayrene Uehlinger Scholarship to be awarded.

The class awarded its first scholarship to J.R. Hill. Other recipients were Tyler Boyd, Joshua Milligan, Melissa Smithey and Kaytlyn Bales.

Kirton, the final scholarship recipient, plans to attend the University of Texas at Arlington in the fall where he plans to major in engineering.

His essay to the committee said:

The application says I must write an essay explaining why I deserve this scholarship. Let me begin by saying that I am not worthy; there was only ONE who walked this earth that was worthy of everything. With that being said, I also know that with God all things are possible, including scholarships.

I tried, during my 13 years in the Italy ISD, to always be a good student – to make good grades and be a friend to all. I earned several awards when I left junior high school, including the Oliphant Cup.

Academically, I am ranked third in my class. I have been accepted to the University of Texas at Arlington where I plan to study engineering. When this school year ends, I will have 18 dual credit college hours. I am undecided about which aspect of engineering I plan to pursue because there are several areas that seem appealing including civil, mechanical and software engineering.

I have been involved in the junior high and high school band since I was in the seventh grade. I served as percussion chair three of my four years in high school. I auditioned and made the Centex Honors Band the three years I tried out in high school. I am also on the Student Council and a member of the National Honor Society.

When I was younger, I was heavily involved in the Ellis County Relay for Life, serving several years as team captain for my church’s team. For that effort, in 2007, I was one of 40 students across the Dallas Metroplex who was named Apple Orthodontix Livewire and was allowed to serve as team captain alongside Dirk Nowitzki and Devin Harris at one of the Dallas Maverick’s home games. What a thrill!

I am actively involved in church and the youth group at Central Baptist Church in Italy. I was mentored as a younger youth and try to reciprocate by mentoring the younger members of our youth group. Last summer, I was chosen to attend a weeklong summer camp called “Super Summer” for youth who are spiritual leaders in their church. This summer, several members of our church and I will travel to Greece for 10 days to work with Albanian refugees.

As I said earlier, there are probably many more deserving students. My parents, however, strived hard to instill a strong work ethic and high moral character in me. I realize that many students throw away opportunities to continue their education or drop out before they complete their degree. I have seen it in my own family. I have also seen the financial problems and loss of self-esteem that choice causes and do not plan on following that path for my life. I agree with Nelson Mandela’s statement, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”