LW West students receive Manhattan Irish Fest Scholarship; LW graduate named Grand Marshal
Thursday, February 22, 2018

On Wednesday, February 21, 2018, the Manhattan Irish Fest Committee announced the winners of the 2018 Michael J. McHugh Memorial King and Queen Scholarship: two Lincoln-Way West students. The King award goes to Ryan Gentile and the Queen award goes to Sara Swanberg. Each student will receive a $1000 scholarship toward the school of choice. Since 2004, the Manhattan Irish Fest has awarded $27,000 in scholarships. Additionally, the committee announced the Grand Marshal of the parade: Lincoln-Way Community High School graduate, Joseph “Joe” Curran.

The King and Queen Scholarship is named the “Michael J. McHugh Memorial King and Queen Scholarship” in honor of McHugh. The Manhattan Irish Fest Committee states, “Mike was a lifelong Manhattan area resident and business owner who dedicated himself to the community. He was a founding member of the Irish American Society of County Will (IASCW) in 1981 and one of the original founding organizers of the Manhattan Irish Fest. Mike gave back to his community in many ways and loved to talk about his Irish Heritage.”

The “King” award winner, Ryan Gentile, is the son of James and Karen Gentile of Manhattan. He plans to major in biology at The University of Illinois – Urbana or Lewis University, Romeoville. Gentile plans to study to become an optometrist after completing his undergraduate studies. Gentile says, “A significant inspiration for becoming an optometrist is my local eye doctor, Dr. Jeff Pietrzyk.” Gentile has been extremely active during his high school years, participating in the wide variety of bands at Lincoln-Way West, as well as joining many clubs and activities. He is a member of the Principal’s Cabinet, National Honor Society, Tri-M Music Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta. Since Junior High School, Gentile has volunteered with many groups and local non-for-profits.

The “Queen” award winner, Sara Swanberg is the daughter of Dale and Tracy Swanberg of Manhattan. Swanberg will study engineering in college and wants to use her degree to “give back to the world.” She loves math and has challenged herself in rigorous courses throughout her high school career. Swanberg is a member of the basketball and badminton teams at Lincoln-Way West. She is a member of the Principal’s Cabinet, Future Business Leaders of America, the Athletic Outreach program and numerous others. Last summer, Swanberg volunteered to be a Unified Tennis Partner. This organization partners persons with special needs with a volunteer to learn and play tennis. Swanberg and her partner played in numerous tournaments across the state. Swanberg said, “I bonded with my partner and learned how small events may be much larger to others.”

In order to determine the Grand Marshal of the Irish Fest Parade, the committee selects an individual who “exhibits the grass-roots ideals the Fest exemplifies of service to the community, devotion to family and love of country.” Lincoln-Way Community High School graduate Joseph Curran will be the 2018 Grand Marshal.

Curran lives in Manhattan and is a 1997 graduate of Lincoln-Way. He is the son of the late Robert “Bob” and Patricia “Pat” Curran. Joe Curran proudly served as a Sargent in the United States Army, where he served tours in both Afghanistan and Iraq. When Curran returned from the service, he volunteered his time to speak to students at Lincoln-Way about his life in the Army and dedication to his country.

Curran is currently employed as an Irrigation Specialist at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; he takes great pride in providing a beautiful final resting place for American soldiers and their spouses.

The 24th Annual Manhattan Irish Fest will be held on March 2 and March 3 in downtown Manhattan. The IASCW is the official fest host in conjunction with the Village of Manhattan. The parade will begin at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 3, beginning on North Street proceeding to State Street. For more information www.manhattanirishfest.com.