St. Clair High School Principal Kevin Hillman and senior Drew York smile at each other as Hillman presents York with the Principal’s Challenge Award during Saturday night’s Top Dog banquet in the SCHS gymnasium. The award was one of dozens presented to high school students during the course of the evening.

The two leaders of the pack as far as Top Dog recipients have a lot to bark about as they finish their four-year terms at St. Clair High School.

Seniors Kelly Barns and Dylan Pattillo were honored as the best of the best on Saturday night as SCHS played host to its sixth annual Top Dog awards banquet. One-hundred-twenty-eight students were recognized as honorees and 18 were given Top Dog status.

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.

“It’s a wonderful evening to come together and show appreciation to some of the persons who have achieved at a higher level this year,” first-year SCHS Principal Kevin Hillman told the students, parents, R-XIII faculty and staff and others in attendance as the banquet got under way. “We thank you for being here to help us recognize these people.”

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 youngsters 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 received a Bulldog bobblehead trophy. There were also a few students and adults who received other special recognitions during the course of the evening.

“I have heard of the very important person, the head cheese, the main man and the MVP, but at St. Clair tonight it is all about the Top Dog,” Hillman said. “We have several categories that we will be honoring persons who have shown great success.”

Each of the 19 departments then went through their list of honorees and 18 named their Top Dogs. The instrumental music Top Dog winners will be announced during the May 7 Scholarship Night ceremony.

After that, Barns and Pattillo were named the Leaders of the Pack.

Leaders of the Pack

“I know for a fact that both of these students have stayed away from drugs and alcohol all four years of high school,” SCHS science teacher Ben Martin said while presenting the Leader of the Pack awards. “Both are all-around, classic American kids.”

He then spoke about each of the students individually.

“In my seven years of teaching, Kelly is the most dynamic, service-oriented student I’ve ever met,” Martin said. “She lives her life with tenacity and zeal and truly cares about other people. Her faith is the center of her life, and she is a model for what a Christian young woman should be.”

Pattillo was next.

“He is a textbook example of hard work and diligence. He has set an example for all underclassmen to follow.”

Martin also highlighted what activities the two seniors are involved in at SCHS.

Top Dogs

The 18 Top Dogs winners announced on Saturday were: Amanda Havin, foreign language; Kelly Barns, science; Austin Pelton, Air Force Junior ROTC; Reno Jones, health; Taylor Townsend, journalism; Beth Walsh, math; Jacob Schau, industrial arts; Caleb Howard, physical education; Dylan Pattillo, social sciences; Sarah O’Daniel, speech and theater; Mercedes Mangrum, family and consumer sciences; Samantha Gotsch, vocational agriculture; Ian Bowie, business; Karen Hill, vocal music; Nicole Souders, art; Jesse Sohn, alternative education; Eli Krewson, communication arts; and Nathaniel Bardot, weight training.

Other Awards

A few other awards were given during the evening, including one Hillman brought with him from his previous job as principal at Palmyra High School. He called it the Principal’s Challenge Award. It was given to Drew York.

“This is an award not of improvement or high achievement,” he said. “This award looks for a student who has made incredible improvements in their life or the improvement of other lives. (It’s for) students who have overcome major obstacles or situations to find great success.

“This person is one of the most unique individuals that I have ever had the privilege to meet. He is the most courteous, uplifting, caring and friendly person I have known. His love for people is contagious, and it is unconditional. Because of this, everyone within 100 miles knows him and loves him back. Kids, other students and grown-ups — everyone — has been impacted by his attitude and caring.”

Hillman continued by saying that if everyone would follow York’s example and “treat people like he does on a daily basis — an unconditional basis — we would be the most successful community/school in the nation.”

Two students, Ashley Fuchs and Pattillo, were recognized by the St. Clair American Legion Post 347 and were awarded the Certificate of School Award and medallion.

Three faculty members were recognized for 30 years of service at the high school. Retiring instrumental music directors Paul and Elaine Swofford were honored for their service even though they were not able to attend Saturday’s banquet. They were judging a music competition elsewhere.

David Purviance was honored for his 30 years of service as well. He received a T-shirt from Assistant Principal Mike Hunter that read: “I taught at SCHS for 30 years and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.”

Finally, community members Pam and Lee Hinson of St. Clair, who own and operate Union Veterinary Clinic, were honored for their service to the high school.