The top seniors from the district’s three high schools were lauded Saturday at the 50th Annual Scholarship Recognition Inc. event at the Sebring High School Smith Center.
The event started in 1963 when a group of business people noted that the community lacked an opportunity to recognize and reward local high school graduates who had achieved outstanding grades.
A check of the numbers for this year’s event offers a summary and significance of the scholarship recognition program: 230 students with a grade point average of 3.4 or higher were recognized, 106 students received $250 scholarships totaling $26,500, and the turnout was so big that about 60 family members had to stand for the event.
Noting the large crowd, Superintendent Wally Cox said he wished there wasn’t a shortage of chairs and seating space but viewed the large turnout as a positive for the students and the district.
The event’s speaker, Command Sgt. Major Michael L. Mosier, was a Class of 1985 Sebring High School graduate who enlisted in the U.S. Army after completing his studies in December 1984.
“You all should be very proud of your accomplishments and dedication to achieve outstanding grades throughout high school,” Mosier said. “You are truly the best of the best.”
“Now, as you are graduating from high school and you are about to embark on your life, you can do anything you want with it; it’s all in your hands to make those decisions that will help make you successful,” he said.
“Surround yourself with successful people and you will be successful. Surround yourself with questionable people then you will be ‘questionable,’” Mosier advised. “I tell this to my soldiers all the time.”
Mosier asked the students to set goals for themselves and get after them.
“If your set your mind to something, there is nothing that you cannot accomplish,” he added.
The “Andrew Miracle Achievement Award” recognizes the student who has shown the most overall, well-rounded educational achievement. The 2013 “Andrew Miracle” awards were presented to the following students: Lake Placid High’s Tyler Atkins, Avon Park High’s Gayla Barrett and Sebring High’s Dalton Helvey.
The 2013 Superintendent’s “Turn Around,” scholarship, which goes to a student at each high school who overcame one or more challenges, was presented to the following students: Lake Placid High’s Kelly Carpenter, Avon Park High’s Josianne Fils and Sebring High’s Edward Tellez.
Through random drawings of names, 25 $250 scholarships were awarded to students at each high school and another 25 $250 scholarships were awarded to the group of seniors at large.
After the event, four seniors shared their plans for after high school.
Lake Placid High’s Itzel Martinez said she will attend South Florida State College to become an elementary teacher.
Sebring High’s Kari Ast said she will also attend South Florida State College to start her bachelor’s degree in hospitality management.
“I am going to finish it at UCF [University of Central Florida] so I can become an event planner,” she said.
Lake Placid High’s Elisabeth Severance will be attending Florida Gulf Coast University to major in resort/hospitality management and, like Ast, she plans on being an event planner.
“We are best friends,” Severance said of Ast. “Unfortunately,” they are not to going to the same university.
Lake Placid High’s Tyler Akins plans on majoring in biomedical sciences/pre-med at UCF.
“I want to be a doctor,” he said.