Two individuals with strong Lonedell R-XIV School District ties were recognized last week by the Missouri Association of Rural Education.

Alicia York, a junior at St. Clair High School who attended Lonedell R-XIV through eighth grade, was nominated for and won the Outstanding High Student Award from the organization. Also, Steve Heideman was selected as the MARE Outstanding Rural Board of Education Member.

According to its website, MARE is an organization of school administrators, board members, teachers, parents, institutions of higher education and businessmen and women who are interested in serving rural community school districts in Missouri. The purpose of the association is to focus on the need and concerns unique to rural education, to provide a forum for the discussion and resolution of those needs and concerns and to present a unified voice to promote rural education in Missouri.

In addition, MARE recognizes the needs and concerns unique to rural education. It provides a forum for the discussion and resolution of those needs and concerns, and presents a unified voice for rural education in Missouri.

“We’re proud of both these individuals,” Lonedell R-XIV Superintendent Fred VanBibber said during Wednesday’s board of education meeting.

Alicia York

York was nominated by VanBibber and received letters of support from Lonedell seventh- and eighth-grade math teacher Danielle Brissette and SCHS science teacher Ben Martin.

“Alicia had remarkable character and excellent marks while here,” VanBibber said in his letter to MARE. “As you look over (her) high school awards, achievements and clubs you will see she has continued to work hard at St. Clair Senior High School.”

Information on York states she is ranked in the top 1 percent of her class academically and has a 4.0-plus grade point average. She was valedictorian of her eighth-grade class at Lonedell, is a Missouri Valley Young Achiever and has earned academic honors awards in several subjects.

She also is a member of the National Honor Society, Student Council, Key Club and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. In athletics, she participates in softball, basketball and track and field and has earned honors and awards in those sports.

“Aside from success in academics and athletics, Alicia is a young lady who is full of humility and hard-work ethics,” VanBibber wrote. “... I believe that Alicia is just as proud of her rural upbringings as we are of her. We often see her wearing a blue and gold Lonedell Bobcat shirt under her and gray St. Clair Bulldog letter jacket. A role model for her St. Clair High School peers and an example for the K-8 Lonedell Bobcats who still look up to her, she is a leader who leads by example and by serving.”

Her teachers had similar comments of praise.

“Alicia was an exceptional child, and she has grown into an amazing young woman,” Brissette said in her recommendation letter. “For as long as I have known Alicia, she has been a model student and citizen.”

“I have had the honor and privilege of having Alicia York as a student and as an FCA member,” Martin said. “Alicia is a bright, responsible and dedicated person, and I would place her in the top 5 percent of all students I have ever taught in my seven years as an educator.”

Steve Heideman

VanBibber also nominated Heideman, a six-year member of the R-XIV school board.

“(Heideman) is a leader ... and stands by his princples to put the children of the school first in the decisions he supports as a board member,” the superintendent said. “Mr. Heideman has the ‘can-do’ attitude to do whatever it takes to complete tasks that will improve the Lonedell R-XIV School District.

Lonedell Special Education Coordinator Sue Emmons had similar words.

“Mr. Heideman is a man of principle and places a high value on educating our young people,” she said. “He has supported our district through the school board, as a parent, a community member and also with physical volunteer labor. Mr. Heideman will do whatever it takes, or as labor intensive as it takes, to get the job done for the betterment of our school district.”

Finally, Ernie Wagner of BK Bus Service, the company that provides transportation for students to and from the rural school, also commented on the past school board president and current board member.

“He is very family-oriented and cares passionately for the students in the district,” Wagner said. “He is always helping with the many projects the school has. ... Steve is always there when something needs to be done.”


Both York and Heideman were recognized during MARE’s annual banquet on Friday, Feb. 15. The event took place at the Port Arrowhead resort in Lake of the Ozarks.

In all, nine state awards were presented to students, teachers, administrators and staff. Lonedell Principal Jen Ulrich also was nominated from Lonedell.