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Lester L. Werntz Scholarship


     This scholarship was established by Mariann Dana Younger in honor of Lester L. Werntz, best known as Les Werntz in Mt. Pulaski, Illinois. 

     Mr. Werntz, as he was known to his students, was a teacher who had great influence on Mariann and encouraged her love for educating and mentoring children. Mariann has continued to advocate for youth through her tutoring of young mothers and students in need of extra help, participating as guardian ad litem, and as an advocate of children’s literature. Mariann’s story demonstrates just how much teachers can help shape values and attitudes; it also demonstrates a remarkable way in which a student can say “thank you” to an influential teacher.

     Les was born in Freeport, Illinois on November 13, 1916. After graduating from Freeport High School he had no money so he worked for two years before enrolling at Illinois Wesleyan College in 1937, graduating in 1941.  His first teaching job was in Mt Pulaski as director of all music – both instrumental and vocal; his first 11-month contract afforded him a salary of $1400.  Les enlisted in World War I after teaching for one year. 

     He served in the 62nd Army Ground Forces Banc for four years, and then returned to Mt Pulaski to teach until 1956 when he was offered a job as assistant to his old band teacher in Freeport. He and his wife Audrey spent many sleepless nights trying to make the decision to leave Mt. Pulaski. Returning to his home town to work with his early school mentor meant a lot to him, so his decision was made to move. Les died April 15, 2005 in Newport where his wife Audrey still lives in the home they built together when they returned to Freeport.

WerntzApplication.pdf   click here for the application

Mt. Pulaski's 4th Annual Christmas Cantata

Helps Kick the Christmas Season into High Gear!

A large audience poured into the Mt. Pulaski Christian Church on Sunday evening to enjoy an up-lifting and mostly-traditional Christmas vocal and instrumental music concert, punctuated by relevant narratives throughout.  What Sweeter Music - A Festival of Carols by composer, Mark Hayes, was performed by 28 singers and 24 instrumentalists — all directed marvelously by Claus Tanner and Beth Anderson, both former long-time instrumental and choir teachers.  Here is what Mark Hayes' Lorenzo Publishing has to say: What Sweeter Music – A Festival of Carols is a sumptuous feast of fifteen Christmas carols plus several original songs from the pen of one of this generation's master composers, Mark Hayes.  The joyous "Opening Medley" sets the stage for the many exceptional moments to come, from a powerful setting of the "Magnificat" for soprano solo to the charming "Cradle Medley."  Sensitive underscoring continues the musical flow between movements as male and female narrators share the beloved Christmas story. Mark's keyboard accompaniment is a sheer delight and offers a wonderful complement to the voices. Mt. Pulaski’s Beth Anderson marvelously performed Mark’s keyboard accompaniment.  Some of the delightful selections:  "Angels We Have Heard on High", "I Saw Three Ships", "Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne", "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing", and "The First Nowell".  Of course, "Silent Night", "Joy to the World", and "O Come, All Ye Faithful" were also rendered magnificently.  Soloists:  Jennifer Wernsing ("Song of Mary") and Heather Fielden ("Away in a Manger") were brilliantly featured. Choir:  Jennifer Wernsing, Rosemary Fuiten, Carol Van Rheeden, Becky Volle, Heather Fielden, Jennifer Fielden, Jean Lucas, Rosalie Tanner, Deb Poynter, Sarah Devine, Sarah Kline, Janet Maxheimer, Joan Theobald, Eleanor Clements, Eleanor Stahl, Joyce Maxheimer, Jane Bryson, Robin Benson, Karen Wernsing, Harry Bleavins, Harold Drake, Rigoberto Ernst, Jamie Ernst, Michael Tanner, Mark Weber, Larry Moffitt, Darrell Wernsing.  Instrumentalists:  Emily Tomlin, Clarissa Lee, Ali Kay, Samantha Wetter, Jerry Theobald, Sue Kuhlmyer, David Helm, Beth Anderson, Justin Myers, Blake Marten, Carol Marten, Liz Belyer, Harry Hild, Dale Koerner, Becky Kunken.  The Flute Choir directed by Beth Anderson:  Sara Devine, Clarissa Lee, Kirsten Parr, Ali Kay, Sara Waller, Katie Holtsclaw, Emily Tomlin, Samantha Wetter, Mattie Endres.  Narrators:  Rebecca Drake and Pastor Mark Weber.  The sound system was set up and monitored by Jonathan Wernsing.  Pastors Rachel Stockel of Mt. Pulaski United Methodist and Mark Weber of Mt. Pulaski First Christian worked together to produce the event.  A collection to help off-set the expenses was taken.


These Band Instructors helped place
Mt. Pulaski Music on the Illinois Map

  • Les instructed from 1941 to 1956
    [with time out for WWII duty]

    Claus instructed from the early 60's
    on into the late 80's

  • Claus was a Music educator at Mt. Pulaski School District for 36 years and was the Choir Director at the First United Methodist Church in Mt. Pulaski for many years.