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Presidential Academic Excellence Awards presented to top students

By Lacy Hilliard
Each year, the Johnson County School District holds a ceremony to honor students that have earned perhaps one of the highest academic honors available to them. The Presidential Academic Excellence Awards were held on Monday, May 5 in the Johnson County High School Gymnasium.
Students in the sixth, eighth and 12th grades are eligible to receive this prestigious award assuming they meet the rigorous criteria first. In order to receive a Presidential Academic Excellence Award (PAEA), students must maintain a grade point average (GPA) of 3.5 or higher. In addition to a high GPA, High School Senior recipients are also required to score within the 85th percentile on the ACT (American College Testing) exam.
The annual Presidential Academic Excellence Awards ceremony acts not only to honor students receiving the award but also works to showcase the talents of students throughout the school district. Opening entertainment for this year’s PAEA ceremony was provided by the Johnson County Middle School singing group Vocal Intensity under the direction of Nancy Davis. The National Anthem was sung by Sydney Crews followed by a musical performance from the dulcimer and guitar group at Mountain City Elementary “Mountain City Unplugged.” Next, the Johnson County High School Band performed two selections including “Table Rock Festival” by John Prescott and “A Childhood Hymn” by David Holsinger. The final performance at the PAEA ceremony was given by Tayla Clark, Kristen Branch and Hannah Arnett. The trio performed a scene from the Johnson County High School Players/Johnson County Young Artist production of The Wizard of Oz.
The following sixth graders from Mountain City Elementary School were honored at the ceremony: Tyler Burleson, Hazlee Kleine, Angel Mullis, Michael Oxentine, Taylor Parsons, Lucas Phillips, Dalton Sluder, Preston Smith, Lucas Walters, Tyler Watson and Zachary Whitehead. Roan Creek Elementary School recipients include Joseph Bilodeau, Hannah Brooks, William Henson, Serena Leonard, Shelby Lunceford, Nathan Mink, Lydia Peraino, Travis Roark and Nebraska Vanover.
Following the sixth graders, the Johnson County Middle School eighth grade recipients were honored. The JCMS students honored with a Presidential Academic Award were as follows: Abigail Arnett, Caden Arnold, Nathan Arnold, Makayla Bilodeau, Caleigh Blair, James Bower, Brittney Brooks, Courtney Brooks, Haley Brown, Amberli Clinebell, Kaleb Dishman, Tristan Dishman, Mikayla Fletcher, Makayla Fritts, Maesen Green, Shea Huyard, Holly Lay, Mackenzie Leonard, Sydney Manuel, Kyman Matherly, Harley Moretz, David Omo, Gabriel Reece, Andrew Robinson, Nathaniel Shepherd, Abigail Smith, Sydney Snyder, Krista Summerow, Austin Trivette and Hallie Walters.
Johnson County High School Seniors were the final group to receive their awards. Though it is a high honor at any level, the high school recipients are required to meet the most stringent of standards. Many of the high school recipients can boast qualifying for the award during all three eligibility periods; an impressive feat to say the least. The following JCHS Seniors were honored at the ceremony: Hannah Arnett, Kristen Branch, Tayla Clark, Ella Conder, Amber Davis, Madison Green, Loren Howell, Courtney Lamb, Evan Lewis, Rachel Poteet, Patrick South, Eden Taylor and Sarah Tierney.
Following the ceremony, the Positive Thinkers organization held a reception for recipients and their parents. As is tradition, the Positive Thinkers provided an amazing spread worthy of such impressive students.
Though the students worked hard to achieve this honor, it wouldn’t be possible without the dedication of educators throughout the district. Members of the school administration including Director of Schools Morris Woodring and future Director of Schools Mischelle Simcox professed their genuine appreciation to both parents and teachers for doing what is necessary to ensure the success of students that dedicate their time to academic excellence.