In an unusual twist because of the COVID-19 issues last year, the Bedford County Fall Foliage Scholarship Committee is crowning two queens this year — one for 2020 and one for 2021 — resulting in a total of 36 contestants.
The 2020 Fall Foliage Queen, Riley Ruffley from Bedford High School, was crowned last Saturday afternoon. The 2021 queen will be crowned at 2:30 p.m. Oct. 9 on the steps of the Bedford County Courthouse.
Linda Bullington has managed the event for more than 20 years and explained the young women are competing for scholarship prizes. Each of Bedford County’s school districts chooses up to four students to compete for the crown and the opportunity to represent Fall Foliage as its queen. They are chosen largely from the applications submitted, and then evaluated through an interview, audience luncheon and presentation process.
Representing Bedford High School for 2021 are Camryn Jones, Josephine Lynch, Ava Penatzer, and Grace Sarver.
Camryn Jones is the daughter of Richard and Julie Jones of Everett. At her school, she has been on the website team, the Hotshots team, Varsity Singers, District Chorus, Theater, and a school board applicant. She has won the B.E.S.T awards, and high honor roll awards at school, and been involved with All For Smiles, volunteering, and theater for her community. She is also a certified Black Belt.
2020 was a year Camryn became closer to family and friends. “I don’t want to take anything for granted because seeing what people went through who lost friends and family — I would never want to experience the same thing.”
Camryn most admires her dad, who dealt with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, and her mom, who helped the family while her dad was in the hospital. “He had to stay strong and go through a lot and still be a dad at the same time.”
Her future plans include a degree in clinical psychology. “I love being there for people at their most vulnerable time,” she said.
Josephine Lynch is the daughter of James and Melony Lynch of Bedford. She’s participated in the school’s ski club as their secretary, and in varsity tennis and track, and in National Honor Society. She has won awards such as the academic award medal, most improved tennis player, Bison GRIT, and high honor roll all of her 10th grade year.
Josephine’s community activities include International Justice Mission advocate, involvement with Your Safe Haven, veterinarian office assistance, several piano concerts and a piano concerto award, and the Nadia Summer Track Club.
She used 2020 to make major life adjustments, she said, and to get organized, adapt a healthier lifestyle, and check in more with family and friends. She started working out, making lists, and getting her priorities straight. “Mental and physical health is extremely predominant, particularly during these times.”
“Although putting down one’s father may be a slight cliche,” for the question of whom she most admires, Josephine said, she “firmly believes it to be true in my case.” In addition to serving in the Navy as an officer, he helped raise her to be the woman she is today. “Teaching a child right from wrong is one thing, but my father took it the extra mile and taught me how to be kind, respectful, giving, loving, and fierce,” she said.
She knows for certain her future will include serving America in the military, and her dream school is the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. She hopes to eventually become a Navy surgeon. “I know it sounds like a lot…but I am ready to tackle any roadblock in my way to make me satisfied.”
Ava Penatzer is the daughter of Donald and Katherine Penatzer of Bedford. She is a member of the Quiz Bow Team, of the cross-country team, rifle team, and mock trial team, along with being a member of the Pennsylvania Junior Classical League.
She wasted no time in 2020, and instead took extra courses on topics such as personal finance and mediation, found new ways to manage her time and study habits, started reading more, took up running, and taught herself how to cook, she said. “Quarantine may have resulted from a negative thing but I would like to think I turned that negativity into something positive.”
Ava most admires her sister who was diagnosed with autism at an early age. Although she once struggled with accepting her sister’s condition, now she realizes how much she means to her. “As I watch her grow, she becomes more and more of an example to me of who I wish to become some day, she said. “She doesn’t change based on what someone else says she should be. She remains to this day, her most unique and beautiful self.”
Ava intends for her future to include the medical field since she’s had a fascination with the human body since she was young, and that fascination has become a “new thirst for scientific and more in-depth knowledge on the subject.” Above all else, Ava wishes to have a happy life with a family and a job she loves.
Grace Sarver is the daughter of Michael and Julie Sarver of Buffalo Mills. She has participated in track and field, soccer, and the Bedford Hot Shots. She has served as her 9th grade class secretary, and as a basketball statistician. She won Bedford Middle School’s Girl of the Year, Bison GRIT, high honor roll, and Outstanding Offensive Soccer Player awards. She also earned the Magna Cum Laude Latin award.
Grace is involved with 4-H, her youth group, community service at New Life Bible Camp, the Bedford County Fair, and the American Boer Goat Association. She has won awards for Master Showmen and Fitter, and for two Supreme Grand Champion Breeding goats.
Grace said that 2020 has been a challenge but that she learned a lot about herself. With virtual learning and social distancing, “I learned that I am able to accomplish many things independently. I will continue learning new things through my COVID experience that will remain fruitful in my life.”
Her mom is the person Grace admires most because of adjectives like strong, loving, and kind, she said. In addition to leading by example, “My mom is always the loudest and craziest fan in the bleachers. Even in pouring down rain, she is there supporting me which shows me how much she cares.” In the short term future, Grace hopes to become class valedictorian, to break the school record for most sports goals, and for the 200 meter dash. “I hope to have left a major mark on Bedford High School both as a person and as an athlete.”
In the long-term future, she plans to pursue a degree as a pediatric assistant, and to have a happy family.
Representing Chestnut Ridge High School this year is Alyssa Henderson. She is the daughter of Jeremy and Kathy Henderson of Alum Bank. Alyssa has been involved with the Student Pride team, Future Business Leaders of America, volleyball, softball, and basketball. She has received high honor roll awards every year since 7th grade, along with academic excellence awards, the Rachel Carson Science Award, the Presidential Award, and a social studies award. She has worked the concession stand for softball, and participated in Hat Day and Pajama Day to raise money for children battling cancer, or for families who had a fire, she said.
Alyssa spent 2020 learning to appreciate family time more, especially with her brother and her grandparents. “My Gram taught me new things like crocheting and sewing. My Pap told me stories of our family history and the army.”
Her Pap is the person she most admires in life. He has suffered two knee replacements and carpal tunnel surgery but “still makes it to my softball games. If I ever need a ride somewhere, he is always the first to offer.” Alyssa also admires how he takes care of his house and “cares for my great-gram all at the same time.” She admires him most though for his honesty with everybody, she said.
Alyssa has big plans for her future as she hopes to attend St. Francis to earn a physician’s assistant degree, with a minor in Spanish. She intends to specialize in surgical subspecialties later and become a physician. She hopes to work in the Bedford County area, and have a family.
The 2021 contestants from Everett High School are Alexis Colledge and Brookelynn Vuckovich.
Alexis Colledge is the daughter of Misty Colledge of Everett. She has participated in Future Business Leaders of America, Student Council, Envirothon, volleyball, and winter cheer. She took second place in the Introduction to Business Communication at the regional conference for the FBLA.
Alexis made some positive changes in 2020 and one was that “social media is not everything and your phone is not your whole life.” She said “living in the moment” has made her realize that living in the moment is so much more important. “COVID made the world slow down…and has taught me that life is beautiful.”
The person Alexis admires most in this world is her mom. “She has taught me that success does not have an age limit,” since her mom pursued a degree in nursing when she was 40 years old. “She has always made it clear to me though that I can do anything I dream of.”
Alexis has very defined goals for her future with the end game of her becoming “one of the best criminal lawyers in Pennsylvania.” Being an expert at her career is important to her.
Brookelynn Vukovich is the daughter of Kayla and Richard Snyder Jr. of Everett. Her school activities have included Future Business Leaders of America, Student Council, varsity soccer, varsity track, varsity basketball, marching band, AYSO soccer, yearbook committee, reading competition, and band. She has also been the treasurer for the Class of 2023 for three years. Her awards include student of the month, FBLA regional winner, highest score of the marking period for Geography, distinguished honor roll, and the National Physical Fitness award.
She has been involved in Huber community by bagging groceries at Everett Foodliner, passing out food at a local food drive, caring for animals at the Humane Society, organizing books at the Everett Free Library, helping with the Backpack Program, and by making Easter baskets for the Easter for Eli program.
When asked how 2020 altered her life and what positive changes she’s made, Brookelynn answered: “Changes had to be made all over the world and we had to grow with them.” For some, lives were lost, she said, and yet for others — they were indifferent about the pandemic and their safety. “I began to come out of my comfort zone. I saw this an opportunity to live my best life because in the end, you only live once.”
Brookelynn most admires her mom. “My mom is like my best friend,” she said, and credits her mom for teaching her to love herself, and to keep going even in the lowest of times. “She has taught me to work hard and be determined, and reach for the stars.”
There’s three schools Brookelynn has in mind for her college future: St. Francis, Harvard or Stanford where she plans to major in English, earning either a master’s degree or a doctorate. She plans on becoming an English professor and a photographer of her hometown.
Three young women represent HOPE for Hyndman Charter School: Morgan Emerick, Bruck Ohler, and Destiny Spiker.
Morgan Emerick is the daughter of Josh and Jody Emerick of Hyndman. She has participated in volleyball, chorus, National Honor Society, and has been the secretary BCTC Student Council. Her awards include National Honor Society, and her community activities include dog walking and training, babysitting, and elder assistance.
“Being quarantined (in 2020) allowed me to start fostering shelter dogs in need of temporary homes, “ Morgan said. “I’ve also started rescuing and re-homing feral kittens in my town,” all as a way of giving back to her community any way she can.
Morgan admires her mom most of all because she has always made such an effort to provide the best for the family and the ones she loves, she said. “She has drive to do whatever she puts her mind to even when the odds are not in her favor.” Morgan said her mom is supportive and encouraging.
She has future plans that include a college volleyball career while pursuing a degree to become a licensed veterinary technician.
Bruck Ohler, of Central City, is the daughter of Brad and Carey Schilling and Jason Ohler. Her school activities include varsity cross-country, varsity volleyball, varsity cheerleading, Student Council, National Honor Society, captain of the quiz team, and varsity chorus. She has earned awards in honor roll and distinguished honors, National Honor Society inductee, varsity athletic letter recipient for cross-country, volleyball, and cheerleading. She was the MVP for the SMACK conference, was the MVP Coaches Choice for cross-country, and was in the county chorus.
Her community activities include: Red Cross Blood Drive volunteer, Wounded Warrior Fundraiser volunteer, Cambria County Fair Queen program volunteer. She also volunteered at the Johnstown Area Food Bank, the Salvation Army bell ringer, at a Senior Tea, at the Hyndman VFW Memorial Day preparation, and with the HHCS Summer Food/Back Pack program. She was a Camp Cadet Senior Cadet, a member of the Laurel Highland Church of God, a participant in the PennDOT Paint the Plow program, along with being a 4-H officer. She was selected for the Bedford County Youth Leadership Program.
Bruck kept very busy in 2020 through volunteering in her community. She assisted with distributing food to nearly 100 families a week, she said. “These donations were very helpful to families who were unprepared for decreased wages and having children home instead of receiving school meals during the week.” Bruck also sewed and donated 350 masks to the elderly in her community. “This became a family project and a labor of love for my parents, grandparents, little brother, and me.” She took on virtual training and home projects through Penn State University, and worked more on her family’s farm. “Every cloud has a silver lining when you look hard enough.”
The person Bruck admires most is Vickie Shaffer, her grandmother. Shaffer was diagnosed with bi-lateral breast cancer in 2016, Bruck said, “but the physical anguish she endured never affected her positive outlook on life or faith in our Lord.” Her grandmother continued to volunteer at church and at the school, and is now cancer-free, according to her granddaughter. “She truly is a living, breathing Wonder Woman in my eyes.”
Penn State University with a degree in Agriculture Science is Bruck’s goal for the future, and she is already taking some early courses. She hopes to become an agricultural specialist for the USDA, and own her own farm someday. “I will also always be an advocate for the preservation of family farms as well as locally-sourced food…Life on a farm isn’t for everyone but it is my world.”
Destiny Spiker is the daughter of Jessie Spiker of Hyndman. Her school and community activities include soccer, National Honor Society, Student Council, Book Bag program, the spaghetti fundraising dinner, and the Angel Tree. She has also been on the honor roll, and participated with Flags for Veterans, and the Fire Hall Car Show.
2020 was a chance for Destiny to better herself, she said. She turned her into a healthier, better cared for person by eating better and exercising. “Another change in my life was learning sympathy for others even if I don’t know them or anything about them, and learning alternative ways to help others.”
Lori Harold Johnson is the person Destiny most admired. “Lori is not related to me at all but I give her my own special title of godmother since she’s been a lot like a mother to me.” She said that Johnson taught her how to be strong and “how to stand up tall when the world seems to be ending.”
In Destiny’s future, she’d like to go to college to study forensics, she said, and have a career as an investigator or a detective.
From the Northern Bedford School District, four young women will compete this year: Alexis Donaldson, Sarah England, Lydia Ritchey, and Emilee Sherlock.
Alexis Donaldson is the daughter of David and Tisha Donaldson of Hopewell. She has participated in winter cheer, football cheer, and was on the Homecoming committee. She has been on high honor roll for her grades.
Alexis spent 2020 really getting focused on her grades, she said, even when online schooling was difficult. “I worked hard to maintain good grades. I also strengthened my relationships with my family and friends.” She recognized that her life, along with millions of other people, changed drastically but she made positive adjustments “through all the bad.”
Alexis most admires her father who has worked hard and become successful, she said. “He is one of the most selfless, driven, and kind people.” Her father “inspires me each and every day to be the person I can be.”
After high school, Alexis plans to attend college and major in childhood education. “My dream is to someday come back to Northern Bedford as a teacher and a cheer adviser.
Sarah England is the daughter of Todd and Janine England of New Enterprise. She has participated in school activities such as Pride Team, FCCLA, the Interact Club, Dance-A-Thon, and the bookkeeper for the basketball team. Her school awards include high honor roll, the FCCLA certificate, and an athletic award in middle school. Her community activities have been helping with dinners, the Dance-A-Thon, Believers for Life youth groups. Hopewell Grace Bible youth groups, Camp Cadet, volunteering at concession stands, and working at Ritchey’s Dairy.
2020 taught Sarah that life is too short, so she spent more time with family, got a job, and started becoming more involved with her community. “I tried my very best to see the bright side in the whole situation.”
Sarah most admires her father and her grandfather. “Through thick and thin, they have been there and made sure that I continue to follow the right path and create the life that God put me here for,” she said.
Her future plans are to earn an early elementary education or a degree as a registered nurse. “Throughout my life, I have loved to be around and work with children, but also taking care of people is what I have a passion for.” She hopes to “do what I dream to do for the rest of my life.”
Lydia Ritchey is the granddaughter of Sylvia Benton of Hopewell. She has participated in school soccer, softball, basketball and Future Business Leaders of America. She has been on high honor roll and won the Presidential Award, and participated in church activities.
Time-management was one of the positive changes Lydia made in 2020, she said, along with spending more time with loved ones. “I have seen a lot of people lose a lot of things. 2020 has taught me to be grateful for everything.”
Lydia most admires her grandmother, Sylvia Benton. “After my mother passed away, my grandmother practically took my father, sister and me in. She has really held our family together,” she said. Although her grandmother hadn’t planned on her life going in this direction, she has tried to make the best of the various situations the family has faced. “My grandmother never let my sister and me see when she was struggling.” Lydia credits her grandmother for being the strongest, most selfless person she knows.
Applying for ROTC, and serving her country are in the future plans of Lydia. She’d like to pursue a degree in Communications with a minor in Business. “I would like to pursue a career in athletic journalism.”
Emilee Sherlock is the daughter of Denise and Randy Thomas of Roaring Spring and Wayne and Michelle Sherlock of Hopewell. Her school activities have included Interact Club, Students Against Destructive Decisions, sophomore class treasurer, crosscountry, football cheer, track and field, wrestling statistician, chorus, and Evening of the Arts. She has been the a sophomore class Homecoming representative, on high honor roll with an American-ism Patriotism Recognition certificate, and a top 10 percent student in academics. She has earned a physical fitness award, and an Outstanding Academic award. Emilee has participated in Bedford County Youth Leadership, and in the City Blessing Food Giveaway. She has also worked at the Woodbury Cafe.
She started going to a new church in 2020, and got more involved with her community. “It gave me the opportunity to meet new people and help people’s lives get better,” she said, through all the good and bad changes that occurred. Emilee most admires her brother Ian. “He is one of the most hardworking and generous people I know,” she said. He is ready to offer help when needed, and is “constantly putting in extra to help better himself and excel in everything he does.”
She hopes to become a doctor or a nurse, and working with children in her future. Her focus will be working in a hospital with babies, or terminally ill children. “Eventually, I will want to start my own family, and live in a development,” she said.
Tussey Mountain School District has chosen four students to represent them: Danika Black, Brooke Horton, Trista Lemin, and Maria Runk.
Danika Black is the daughter of Jeffrey Brantlinger and Donna Brantlinger Black of Saxton. She has participated in marching band, concert band, choir, French club, National Honors Society, drama club, bell choir, and her youth group. She has been on high honor roll, and won a musician award. In her community, she has played AYSO soccer, and been part of 4-H shooting sports. She won 2nd place at the 4-H state competition.
“2020 changed my life for the better,” Danika said. She lost 21 pounds and is still losing weight with a Christmas time success goal.
She most admires her great-uncle Gary. “Even though he is no longer on this earth, I still remember the things he taught me.” She hopes to be like him since he was selfless and kind, and taught her to always love her family no matter what.
Danika wants to attend the New York School of Interior Design, and excel in her career. “I would be doing the thing I love which is helping others have a more functional life,” she said.
Brooke Horton is the daughter of John and Tanyalee Horton of James Creek. She has participated in her school’s volleyball, track, Students Against Destructive Decisions, Student Council, Lords & Ladies, Bedford County’s Youth Leadership, and HOBY.
In 2020, Brooke became more involved in leadership programs. “I believed that they could shape me into a better person, and they have been so far.” She started to be more active and not rely on electronics for everything, she said.
“The person I admire most is my brother.” Brooke said he is very strong-willed and doesn’t let anything get in the way of what he wants, “and I love that.” Even though she doesn’t want to be exactly like him, she wants to have his mindset and work ethic.
Brooke would like to go into the medical field and become a genetic scientist or a pathologist. “In both of these jobs, I can help people for the better,” she said, and that this is her priority.
Trista Lemin is the daughter of Jesse and Lynn Lemin of Broad Top. She has participated in varsity football cheer, varsity basketball cheer, and varsity track and field. She has also been on the honor roll. She has been a part of the Sassy Spinnerz Baton Twirling.
Trista made positive changes in 2020 such as becoming more committed to cheer, twirling, and track. She also made a choice to dedicate herself to her school work, and “to not let negative thoughts impact my life.”
She most admires her mom who works in the medical field — a career path Trista wants to be part of too, in her future. “My mom is also very determined and doesn’t give up on what she loves the most.”
Trista plans to attend the University of Pittsburgh or maybe Penn State to get her bachelor’s degree, and then go on to earn a BSN to be a Neonatal Intensive Care unit nurse.
Maria Runk is the daughter of Holli Hamman of Broad Top. She has participated in school vollleyball, basketball cheer, and tennis. She has been student of the month, and on honor roll. She worked at the Lions’ Club carnival, and in community art.
In 2020, Maria “learned how to stay on task and deal with things unexpectedly,” her said.
The person Maria admires the most is her mom. “No matter what she goes through, she makes sure everyone is good before she is.”
Her future plans include becoming a radiation therapist. In addition to eventually starting a family and growing old with her significant other, Maria wants to “make sure I live comfortably and happily.”
For more information on the Bedford County Fall Foliage Scholarship Competition, contact Linda Bullington at 814-624-5151.
For more information on this story, contact Tyna Walker-Lay at [email protected]