Wayne Community High School senior band member Emily Bellon holds a check worth $250 for winning the Senior Spirit Scholarship.
Emily Bellon is a busy young woman. She started courses at Indian Hills Community College as a junior in high school, works as a certified nursing assistant at the Corydon Nursing & Rehab Center, all while trying to enjoy her last year at Wayne and eagerly anticipating the start of basketball season. Needless to say, when Bellon won the $250 Senior Spirit Scholarship at this year’s Oktoberfest on Oct. 5, she was deserving of the honor.
High school band director Anne Jaeckel nominated Bellon for the award, and the board of directors at Ottumwa’s Oktoberfest reviewed the candidates and made the final decision. The prize is based upon grade point average, class rank, community activities, involvement with the music department and any other awards achieved by the student.
“I feel honored, because it makes me feel like I actually am a valid, essential part of the music program,” Bellon said.
She has a long, eclectic past with musical pursuits, going back to first grade, when she began taking piano lessons. Bellon still plays piano twice a month for St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Centerville, and has accompanied the high school choir. At piano contest, she has received first ratings. She played the French horn for concert band in junior high, has played first-line trumpet for marching band since her freshman year, as well as performing on base drum for the drum line. The Pride of Iowa Conference has selected Bellon three times as an all-conference trumpet player.
“There are so many different kinds of music. You go from jazz to classical pieces. It’s a way to express yourself.
“I’m in everything there is,” Bellon joked. “My dad played the trumpet—I wanted to be like my dad. He got the state jazz soloist award. I wanted to outdo him.”
Jay Bellon is Emily’s father. Her mother, Heidi Bellon, is a secondary Spanish teacher at Wayne Community High School. Emily has a younger brother, Matt, who is in 8th grade. The family lives in Corydon.
“I was taken aback to hear her name announced,” her mother said, “but I guess I wasn’t surprised of her winning this award because of all that she has done in her high school career, both in and out of school. She’s a busy person, and we’re quite proud of her.”
Bellon was a three-time all-conference softball player, before retiring from the sport to concentrate on work and school. Her goal is to get her RN after IHCC, to become a nurse. She had to take state testing—in addition to passing the proper college courses—to become a certified nursing assistant for her current job, and works three nights a week and every other weekend. She helps the elderly with their daily activities, and finds it rewarding.
“I like my job a lot. I’m taking care of people, making a difference in their lives. My job takes up my life, it really does.”
Despite the busy schedule, Bellon still plays her favorite sport, basketball. She has been a starter on the varsity team since her freshman year. She also runs cross country, and has been named academic all-conference numerous times for numerous sports.
At the Oktoberfest awards ceremony, when the overall team winners are announced, the Senior Spirit Scholarship is also presented. The moderators first announced the school that the winner attended. Then they called Emily Bellon’s name.
It was the first time a student from Wayne had won the award. Jaeckel had taught at Moravia before coming to Corydon, and it was a personal first for her as well, since none of her Moravia students that Jaeckel nominated had won, either. She has been nominating students for the past 20 years.
“Emily is a scholar, musician, athlete and active community member,” Jaeckel said. “Because of her ability to analyze, plan and execute, our district’s administration chose her as one of two student members on a steering committee to plan our new athletic complex.
“Emily can see the big picture; yet she can break it down into the fine details. She is analytical and objective. She has shown unusual focus and organizational skills to excel in all the areas in which she participates.”
This was Bellon’s sixth year performing at Oktoberfest, where the Wayne band took first place for the 19th straight year.
“It’s so intense and competitive,” Bellon said of Oktoberfest. “It’s a way to show all the hard work we put into [practice].
“I feel very honored to be the first student ever from Wayne to win this scholarship.”