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Gillis Foundation Bright Stars Scholars Announced



(L-R) Faith Wheeler, Rhett Reid, Akayshia Smith, Landry Tyson, Maddie Millsap, Casey Bass, Maddy Ray, Amy Sprague, Nathan Valenzuela, Jennifer Lopez

The inaugural class of  Bright Stars Scholars of the John and Deborah Gillis Foundation was announced Tuesday night at the Sulphur Springs Country Club. Ten high school seniors representing every school district in Hopkins County received a $32,000 scholarship for their college educations. The 2019 Gillis Foundation Bright Stars Scholars are Casey Andrew Bass of Sulphur Bluff, Jennifer Lopez-Cervantes, Maddie Ruth Millsap, Maddie Claire Ray, Rhett Alan Reid and Landry Woodrow Tyson of Sulphur  Springs, Akayshia Nicole Smith of Cumby, Amy Anita Sprague and Victoria Faith Wheeler of North Hopkins and Nathan Ray Valenzuela of Saltillo.   Robin Schrode is the Executive Director of the John and Deborah Gillis Foundation, and was the Mistress of Ceremonies for the Event

(L-R) Deborah Gillis, Robin Shrode, John Gillis

The Bright Stars scholarships will be open each year to all graduating seniors from the seven school districts in Hopkins County, and is the second platform of the Gillis Foundations commitment to local education. In February, the foundation awarded three county school districts, (Como-Pickton, Sulphur Bluff and Cumby) a total of $100,000 for innovative programs in their schools. The purposes of the grants are to support schools as they prepare students who graduate from high school to be college and career ready, whatever their life goals my be.

The foundation will consistently work closely with Hopkinsi County schools to ensure a strong alignment between their own educational goals and the foundation’s mission and goals of college and career readiness. The grand funding’s intentions are ultimately to increase Hopkins County graduates’ chances of competingt in a global society for college entrances of their choice and competitive career opportunities.



The foundation was developed and financially supported by the Sulphur Springs couple and is managed by former teacher, counselor and educational consultant Robin Shrode. JOhn Gillis, who is Chairman/CEO of Gillis Holdings, Inc., is a fifth generation Hopkins County native. The couple, who married in 1985 have one son and one granddaughter. John and Debbie are both graduates of East Texas State University ( now Texas A&M-Commerce)

INformation regarding the process of applying for the Grants to Schools and Bright Star Scholarship programs are on the foundation’s website: www.jdgillisfoundation.org