“The schools are free to use their own criterion for choosing the Outstanding Student. We ask the principals at the event to tell the audience how their student made an impression on teachers and staff to earn this honor,” President David Turner said in a prepared statement. “Sharing these stories helps us all appreciate the high quality of character found in youth of our community.”
Students from every local public school, as well as Excel Christian Academy and the Trinity School, took to the stage as their principal, or teacher, shared stories ranging from a student’s struggle with the loss of parents, to students going out of their way to help less-fortunate students.
“It’s an opportunity for schools to brag on somebody outstanding,” event coordinator Susan Yark said. “They generally get to look at our creed and decide what in our creed shines in their outstanding student. It doesn’t have to be academics, it doesn’t have to be citizenship, just something that makes the student a pleasure to be around in school.”
Pine Log Elementary School Principal Nancy Summey spoke on the school’s Outstanding Student, Wade Conduff.
“[Conduff] is an extremely bright young man, he’s very motivated, he excels and even makes all As, but we have an after school tutoring program and he begged me and the teacher and his mother to allow him to come to the after school program and stay 90 minutes every week so he could learn more math,” Summey said. “He’s also very responsible, he’s on the safety patrol, and whenever I need an extra pair of hands, I always call on Wade because he will always do the responsible thing and carry through with the task.”
According to a press release provided by the organization, “The Cartersville Morning Optimist Club has been honoring local youth through Youth Appreciation for nearly 40 years. Youth Appreciation is the most popular program sponsored by clubs throughout Optimist International, with more than 2,000 clubs participating each year.
“The club supports other youth projects, including Advocates for Children, Boys and Girls Club and the Etowah Foundation scholarships. Cartersville Morning Optimist Club raises funds for these projects at Stars and Stripes over Cartersville during the Fourth of July festivities and food vending at the Booth Cowboy Symposium.”
This year’s outstanding students are: Gaven Crunkelton, Adairsville Elementary, Principal Melissa Zarefoss; Karlie Dean, Adairsville Middle, Principal Brian Knuchel; Georgeanna Wiggins, Adairsville High, Principal Bruce Mulkey; Katie Brookshire, Allatoona Elementary, Principal Jim Bishop; Olivia Tyra, Cartersville Primary, Principal Walter Gordon; Collin Buffaloe, Cartersville Elementary, Principal Ken MacKenzie; Lakia Goodson, Cartersville Middle, Principal Jeff Hogan; Melissa Bartlett, Cartersville High, Principal Steve Butler; Yana Morning, Cass Middle, Principal Kristy Arnold; Chaz Wilson, Cass High, Principal Michael Nelson; Bethany Perdue, Clear Creek Elementary, Principal Kelly Wade; Opal Sheets, Cloverleaf Elementary, Principal Evie Barge; Douglas McDonie, Emerson Elementary, Principal Robb Kittle; Keagan Gallagher, Euharlee Elementary, Principal Sharon Collum; Ellise Taylor, Excel Elementary, Principal Wesley Roach; Levi Blackwell, Excel Middle, Principal Wesley Roach; Phillip Matthew Looney, Excel High, Principal Wesley Roach; Alexa Halpern, Hamilton Crossing Elementary, Principal Lynn Robertson; Cynthia Barron, Kingston Elementary, Principal Matt Gibson; Lauren Morris, Mission Road Elementary, Principal Sherrie Hughes; Wade Conduff, Pine Log Elementary, Principal Nancy Summey; Austin Keys, South Central Middle, Principal Donald Rucker; Reed Couch, Taylorsville Elementary, Principal Bernadette DiPetta; Alex Williams, The Trinity School, Principal Ish Beardon; Katlin Bowman, White Elementary, Principal Amy Heater; Drew Taylor, Woodland Middle, Principal Lamar Barnes; and Kaylin Baker, Woodland High, Principal Melissa Williams.
The Booth Western Art Museum sponsored the event.