Celebration of excellence dinner recognizes 33 students, four teachers

Celebration of Excellence participants are looking up.

The eighth annual Celebration of Excellence dinner, sponsored by the Lancaster County Education Foundation, took place May 3 at Rappahannock Westminster-Canterbury.

This is a dinner to honor the top five students in each grade based on GPA, the top 10 seniors as well as two most improved students in each grade level, reported committee member Andrea Lattell. Four teachers were also honored based on outstanding guidance to students. Its purpose also is to invite successful community members with whom the students can communicate and network who have supported the work of the Foundation.

The Foundation has raised $94,140 this year that goes directly into the schools, said Latell.

The welcome and introduction was given by Stephanie McClain. The dinner blessing was read by Jamilah Sawyer.

The speaker was the Hon. Judge Michael McKenney, previously Lancaster’s juvenile and domestic relations judge and currently the 15th Judicial Circuit Court judge.

Judge McKenney graduated from Northumberland High School in 1976 and Rappahannock Community College in 1982. He then went to University of Mary Washington and University of Richmond.

Judge McKenney delivered a powerful message stating that he grew up in the Northern Neck, went away to college and came back and stayed in the Northern Neck as a very prominent, successful judge. He was the first in his family to go to college. He stressed that every student at the dinner can do the same. Being successful and coming back to the beauty of the Northern Neck makes a very fulfilling lifestyle. He stressed how wonderful and special the Northern Neck is.

Jack Neal also spoke. He described the Verlander Scholarship and carried on a similar message as Judge McKenney’s regarding how terrific the Northern Neck truly is. He congratulated all of the students and their academic endeavors.

The honored students were freshmen Justin Baugh, Elianna Bavuso, Demetria Carter, Carlos Norris, Sydney Price, Trinity Richardson, Luke Simpson and Shyniece Sutton; sophomores Jy’Kee Ball, Whitney Barrack, Stephanie Castro, Roman Cutler, Zachary Kane, William McCarty and Kaeli McGrath; juniors Lucy Gilbert, Calvin Henderson, Aline Johnson, Katara Kelly, Erin McClain, William Parker and Francesca Wilson; and seniors Mathew Bavuso, Zachary Benton, Destiny Carter, Jhamari Gordon, Alexander Green, Johnston Kemp, Wyatt McCranie, Jahlil Nickens, Devin Smith, Alora Tyson and Vilesha Waller.

Honored teachers were Lynette Pewett, Craig Oren, Jann Millard and Devin Carter.

Each student was given $50 and a certificate of honor. The excellence committee includes Latell, Vera Lee, Donna McGrath, Jamilah Sawyer, Katie Shafer, Barbara Smith and Margaret Socey.

Closing remarks were made by superintendent Steven Parker who congratulated all students and reminded everyone to focus on the positives of a child and what is right, not what is wrong. The benediction was given by The Rev. John Farmer.

Community members invited to participate were Donna Anderson, Jimmie Carter, Joe Curry, Tom Fox, B.H. Hubbard, Terry Hubbard, Karen Hutchens, Jean Light, Jerry Latell, Patrick McCranie, Jack Neal, Susan Pittman, Albert Pollard Jr., Mary Posey, Mark Kay Rotert, Phillip Williams, Bill Young and Carolyn Young.