WILLIAMSON – The Williamson Kiwanis Club held the 32 Annual Top of the Class Banquet Monday evening at the Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College (SWVCTC) Williamson campus.
The banquet was held to honor local 2016 valedictorian’s graduating from Mingo, Pike and Martin County. Students from Ambassador Christian Academy (ACA), Phelps, Belfry, Mingo Central High School (MCHS), Sheldon Clark, Tug Valley High School (TVHS) and Pike County Central were honored at the event.
Upon arrival, guests were provided parking assistance and sheltered from the rain by Boy Scout Troop 321. The Boy Scouts held umbrellas and escorted guests inside the event.
Once inside, Perfect Harmony Mingo Central String Orchestra led by Director Laura Bobbera provided musical selections prior to the opening welcome speech.
Judy Hamrick, Kiwanis Club President, welcomed guests to the event. “Welcome to the Top of the Class dinner. Every time we put this on, we are amazed by the fine young minds we see before us. We hate to send you off, we would like to keep you here…”
Following the welcome, invocation was provided by Dr. Johnny Branch. The Pledge of Allegiance and Presentation of Colors by Boy Scout Troop 321 followed the invocation.
Opening remarks and welcome to the campus was provided by Dr. Robert E. Gunter, President of SWVCTC. Gunter serves as SWVCTC’s ninth president and was joined at the event by his wife Tanya. Gunter remained on hand following the event to answer questions from students interested in attending SWVCTC.
Hamrick returned to introduce the sponsor and discuss the Kiwanis involvement in education. “We are very committed to improving and supporting education. In the case of this particular scholarship format, we have a partner and that is the Community Trust Bank,” Hamrick stated.
Hamrick explained that Deanna Wellman, Community Trust Bank Manager was unable to attend the event. “Although Mrs. Wellman didn’t make it; we are afraid she may be behind high water, John Mark (Hubbard), introduced us to Dwayne Thompson and the bank and I would like for him to tell a little bit about what a wonderful partnership it has turned out to be.”
John Mark Hubbard welcomed guests to the event on behalf of the Community Trust Bank and offered graduating seniors words of advice. “For you that we are recognizing this evening, this is a special time in your life. As you prepare for this time, I hope you take time to go to the special people in your life to let them know the appreciation for the sacrifices they have made for you on your behalf…I hope that as you continue your dreams those dreams will be achieved far beyond your expectations. I also hope that will have the opportunity to come back home… We congratulate you on your accomplishments,” Hubbard stated.
Following sponsor greetings, dinner and dessert was provided by the Yum Factory TVHS ProStart students.
After dinner, Hamrick returned to the microphone to introduce the Keynote Speaker; Brigadier General Paige Hunter, Chief of the Air Staff for the W.Va. National Guard. The keynote speech centered on core values such as integrity. The speech also focused on turning challenges into opportunities, the importance of being a team player, and setting a positive example. “Life happens to all of us. The bottom line is, you aren’t a victim. You are only a victim if you choose to be and not take control. If you choose to take control of your destiny, you will succeed. You have already done some of that you are the cream of the crop….” General Hunter stated.
Dr. Johnny Branch introduced the top of the class students, parents and representatives from each school following the keynote speaker. Top students included: Briona Haynes from ACA, Karlie Mariah Sincell from Phelps, Belfry students Madison Dawn Fillinger, Cody Robinette, Abigail Gannon, Abigail Brooke Marcum and Madison Alexandra Farley, MCHS student Faith Hensley, Sheldon Clark students Megan Moore, Shawna Maynard and Steven Moore II, Katlyn Robinson from TVHS, and Pike County Central students Mason Justice and Amanda Mae Arts.
Hamrick presented the Best of the Best Awards which provided two students with college scholarships. Runner up went to Amanda May Arts. MCHS senior Faith Hensley took home the top award for Best of the Best.
(Courtney Pigman is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected], or at 304-235-4242 ext. 2279.)