Friends, Glenbard South classmates rally to honor Kristy Wesselman
Thirty years after the slaying of Kristina Wesselman, and with the recent arrest of the man accused of her murder, Kristy's former Glenbard South High School classmates are determined to keep her memory alive.
Several members of the Class of 1988 at the Glen Ellyn-area school announced plans Monday to reinstate the Kristy Wesselman Memorial Scholarship in 2016.
In 1988, Kristy's mother, Sandy Wesselman, donated a one-time certified check for $500 to the school to be given to a graduate of that year's class.
Robert Dieter, a cardiologist and vascular specialist practicing in Chicago, received that scholarship. When news of an arrest in her case broke, Dieter and another high school friend, Steve Monchunski, discussed plans to revitalize the scholarship and make it an annual gift.
"(Dieter) told me he still had the letter that Mrs. Wesselman wrote with the original check and how it has impacted him throughout his career," Monchunski said. "I said, 'Let's do it again.' Neither of us are wealthy by any means, but we could do this."
As soon as word of their plan hit social media, several of Wesselman's former classmates also agreed to add the scholarship to their annual charitable giving lists. Monchunski said the fund already has a verbal commitment of about $3,000.
"The response was incredible," he said. "When you're a child, you don't realize how much something like this impacts the rest of your life. So it was great to see so many others who were impacted pledge to help us."
Bridget King, Kristy's former neighbor and friend, said the scholarship will be awarded annually to the Glenbard South student who serves as freshman class president, as Wesselman did.
"There is so much negativity that swirls when someone is charged with a crime. But we wanted to make sure no one loses focus that Kristy was a positive presence, even in her 15 years," King said.
"Our goal is to send a message to students that starting early in a leadership role can have a significant impact on your community as well as your future."
School and district officials were unavailable for comment Monday, but Monchunski said staff members have been helpful in getting the effort organized.
The first recipient since Dieter will be awarded the memorial scholarship on June 3, 2016, starting what the group hopes to be a lasting tradition.
Donations are being accepted directly at the school: Glenbard South High School, c/o Kristina Wesselman Scholarship, 23W200 Butterfield Road, Glen Ellyn, IL 60137.
The man charged with Kristy's murder, Michael R. Jones of Champaign, is scheduled to be arraigned at 9 a.m. Tuesday in DuPage County. Jones has been held, without bail, in the DuPage County jail since his arrest.