In presenting the 2013 St. Clair High School Principal’s Challenge Award, Kevin Hillman said he never has seen anyone who has accomplished so much continue to work so hard to give back.
Hillman, the SCHS principal, was talking about senior Jessica Perkins, who was presented with that award at the end of the seventh annual Top Dog awards night on Friday in the school’s gymnasium.
“The Principal’s Challenge Award recognizes a student who goes far behind the scenes to make our school and other students better,” Hillman said during the banquet. “It usually is not about a front-runner. It usually is not about someone who has received awards and fanfare. It is for that successful student who is a great role model and who is a wonderful person and difference maker to all students no matter who they are.”
Hillman, in his second and final year as SCHS boss, said he brought the Principal’s Challenge Award and what it stands for with him from his previous job.
Perkins, who the weekend before was recognized by the St. Clair Area Chamber of Commerce for its Outstanding Youth of the Year award, “is absolutely the most humble person who I have ever met and is an incredible role model for every student and every staff member in this school and community to follow,” Hillman said. “There is an old saying that says, ‘Nice guys finish last.’ This young lady has shown that this is not the case.”
The SCHS principal stated that Perkins began the academic year by putting up posters and other signage to welcome freshmen and offer friendship and advice if they needed it. He said she was one of several senior students who stood up and helped the school when it needed it the most this year “to get through a difficult time” when the school dealt with and moved forward from the three tragic student suicides that occurred during the first semester. And, he said, Perkins has continued to help SCHS students with anything needed throughout the year.
“I have never seen her do anything except smile the wonderful, genuine smile of hers and say, “How can I help?’” Hillman said.
Besides her demeanor and personality, Hillman noted several of Perkins’ accomplishments. She is an SCHS Key Club officer; National Honor Society president; Student Council president; Scrubs Club officer; Future Business Leaders of America member; band performer who has earned conference, district and state awards; and is a former Top Dog winner from previous years.
In fact, she was nominated for three Top Dog awards on Friday and won two — in science and foreign language. She also was presented with an American Legion award.
In all, 114 students were nominated for one of the 18 Top Dog awards.
Faculty in each department at the high school are allowed to establish their own standards and selection process in determining their specific student award recipients. A few teenagers who highly are involved are chosen, usually one girl and one boy from each grade level.
Then from each group of Top Dog honorees, the “Top Dog” is selected, and he or she receives a Bulldog bobblehead trophy. There were also a few students and adults who received other special recognitions during the course of the evening.
The banquet was established to recognize students, faculty members and those in the community who help make St. Clair High School the great place it is.
The Top Dog band student will be chosen later.
Besides Perkins, the Top Dogs winners announced on Friday were: Logan Moore, industrial arts; Bailey Oermann, journalism; Harley Love, Air Force Junior ROTC; Jonah Pfeiffer, math; Sarah Hinson, physical education; Bobby Kreutz, social studies; Kirsten Krier, speech and drama; Ray Fryer, vocational agriculture; Shayla Hinson, vocal music; Mason Helton, weight training; Chellsey Harrison, alternative education; Celena McElroy, art; Ian Bowie, business and marketing; Emily Rogers, English; Hannah Krouper, family and consumer sciences; and Taylor Long, health.
A few other awards were handed out on Friday during the banquet.
The Leader of the Pack Award was given to senior Taylor Townsend. It is presented to a student who other students always can rely on and trust as well as one who is a positive role model.
“She always goes out of her way for others,” SCHS Assistant Principal Mike Hunter said about Townsend. “She is one of the most friendly students we have ever had here.
“In her case, this should be called the ‘Good Mood Award.’”
Perkins and Pfeiffer were recognized by St. Clair American Legion Post 347 Commander Fred Afleck and were awarded the Certificate of School Award and medallion.
In athletics, Chase Cohen and Emily Rogers were recognized for sportsmanship, Adam Brott and Anna Reed honored as top male and female athlete, respectively, and Brott, Reed, Evan Murphy and Austin Gotway were recognized for participating in at least 11 semesters of sports.
Three retiring faculty members were recognized for their years of service and dedication to SCHS. Paul Hickey (speech and drama), Lynn Lottmann (math) and Dave Purviance (physical education and coaching) were praised for their years of service.
Purviance was recognized last year as well for 30 years on the job and is retiring at the end of this academic year. Lottmann has been in education for 30 years, 28 of which have been in the St. Clair R-XIII School District. Hickey has been teaching at the high school for 21 years and for 29 years overall.
When Hunter asked those in attendance to stand if they have had one of these three retirees as teachers, about half of the crowd stood.
“We will miss their diligence and spirit,” Hunter said of the three. “They cared about their students so much.”
Staff members Robin Norton, Valerie O’Daniel, Mikki Cohen, Laurie Osseck, Marty Giger, Holly Click, Jena Carroll, Garan McCuskey, Janell Talleur, Christine Roemer, Patsy Collings and Branscum also were recognized.
Finally, Bulldog Design; Bulldog Donuts; Trophies, T’s and More; Tres Toritos and Staff Sgt. Geoffrey Dace were honored for their service to the high school.