Morgan Park Academy hosted its annual Veterans Day program on Nov. 11, 2019, remembering our history as a military academy and honoring visiting family and friends within our school community who are active and former military members.

Welcoming more than a dozen MPA alumni, family, and friends, including guest speaker SFC Colin Prendergast, we also for the first time awarded $5,000 scholarships to two students whose family members have served in the military.

The recipients of the inaugural scholarships are freshman Toni Neely of Flossmoor and sophomore Autymn Williams of Englewood, strong students who wrote compelling essays demonstrating a desire to pursue equal access to justice.

Toni, whose uncle and grandfather served in the military, is a new Upper School student who loves to dance and was a member of the junior varsity volleyball team this fall. She says her career goal is to give back to her community as a doctor.

Autymn, whose grandfather served in the military, is an honor roll student, a soccer player, and a dancer who also shines as a violinist, studying at the Merit School of Music and performing often with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Her ambitions include continuing the work that her parents have done to revitalize their community and lift up their neighbors.

The scholarships were made possible by the Veterans’ Legal Aid Society, whose board chair, Amy Delaney, is an MPA parent.

Veterans’ Legal Aid Society provides equal access to justice for Illinois veterans and their families by coordinating access to legal services for veterans through direct referrals to attorneys and legal aid organizations; supporting veteran’s legal aid programs; and assisting in the management of a trust to benefit veterans and their families.

“Service to the world around us has been a core value at Morgan Park Academy since our time as a military academy years ago,” Head of School Mercedes Z. Sheppard said. “That’s why we take time each Veterans Day to recognize the veterans in our community and why we are especially pleased to partner with the Veterans’ Legal Aid Society to provide this new scholarship award.

“We’re glad that Autymn and Toni are the inaugural recipients. They are both worthy recipients for their contributions in the classroom, in athletics and the arts, and in service to their communities.”