Ennis high school senior Colby Pechal is the recipient of the Victor Peter memorial scholarship given by the Czech Heritage Society of Texas.
The scholarship is awarded to a deserving student that best meets the criteria of being involved in the Czech culture as well as writing an essay on an important Czech or Texas-Czech figure that has made an impact on the culture historically. Pechal chose Raymond Zapletal, co-founder of the National Polka Festival, held in Ennis for the last 40 years.
Pechal chose Zapletal because it was important to her to talk about someone in her hometown.
“Mr. Zapletal has done so much to promote the Czech heritage and keep the traditions alive for younger generations. I have volunteered at the Polka festival in past years and I think his contributions to that event are still seen and felt years after he organized the first one. I felt like he is important in the history of Ennis and I wanted to talk about my hometown,” Pechal said.
Pechal was encouraged to apply for the scholarship by her grandmother so it was very exciting to her when she learned she had been selected.
“My grandmother brought the application to my attention and it is special to me because it makes her proud that I have won this scholarship while promoting our Czech heritage. It means a lot to her and even more to me,” she said.
Pechal will travel to the Czech Republic in June with her grandparents and is very excited to learn more about her heritage and the traditions she has grown up with.
“I can’t wait to experience first hand, the traditions we practice here at home,” she said.
Pechal is the daughter of Cindy Duke Pechal and Larry Pechal of Ennis.