AMBOY - Jack Zentz, a 1967 graduate of Amboy High School, is giving back to the school he remembers with great fondness. Starting this year, his foundation will present a $5,000 scholarship to a graduating AHS senior. More importantly, he is challenging other Amboy alumni to match that amount so more scholarships can be given each year.
“This is a $5,000 scholarship that will be given every year and I’m thinking there has to be several thousand alumni of AHS, so I’m hoping to challenge them so even more students can be helped,” Zentz said.
While attending high school, Zentz played on Amboy’s undefeated championship football team and also participated in track and field. “I still have great memories and a very strong love for my high school and I wanted to do something to give back to the community,” he explained.
Following high school, Zentz continued his education at North Central College in Naperville, where he met his wife, Joanne. “I had a very nice career, life has been very good to us,” Zentz said. “But we have no kids or grandchildren so we created a foundation to be used for scholarships, and one of my first ones was to Amboy. This is part of my legacy. I want to help other kids.”
Zentz emphasized that this scholarship is not only for college-bound students but is also open to students choosing vocational schools or apprenticeships.
After discussing possible criteria for the scholarship with AHS counselor Rob Wissinger, Zentz ended up with a list of four items. First, students were asked to write an essay making a commitment to help people they do not know in the future. Other considerations included their grades, their activities, and volunteer work they are doing now and plan to do in the future.
Zentz said he asked four other Amboy High School alumni to review the applications and decide on this year’s scholarship recipient. “I was not involved in that, but they made a very good decision,” he noted.
The scholarship winner will be announced during Honors Night on May 20 and presented by one of Zentz’s former high school classmates. “We live in Florida now, so I asked John Glaser to present the scholarship on my behalf,” he explained.
Although he doesn’t get back to visit very often, Zentz still has some family members living in Amboy and continues to have very strong feelings about the community. “I still feel the same way about Amboy,” he said. “It was a wonderful place.”
With the first of his scholarships about to be presented, Zentz hopes he can inspire others to get involved in the coming years. “I would really like for other alumni to jump in and come with me in creating scholarships,” he said. “I will match them dollar for dollar - I would like to get something going.”