By MARINA WATERS
On Monday night, a Washington County School System tradition continued; the highest-achieving students from Daniel Boone and David Crockett High Schools gathered for the district’s celebration to honor those students at the Top 10 banquet.
The students, who were selected into the top 10 percent of their graduating class based on their GPA, were invited to attend the banquet held at the Millennium Centre in Johnson City. But this year’s students weren’t just the highest achieving at their school; the group earned a combined 4.4 out of a 4.0 GPA, which is the highest group GPA at a Top 10 banquet in the last 10 years — not to mention that 71 percent of this group of students had never made a grade lower than an “A.”
“Being in the top 10 is a huge honor,” Director of Schools Kimber Halliburton told the Herald & Tribune. “It’s really difficult to get to this banquet in that 71 percent of the students here have never made below an A — that’s an incredible accomplishment. They work so hard to make sure that they turn in their course work on time, many of these kids take AP classes and we just want to honor them — and hopefully motivate future students to want to come to this banquet.”
And honored they were; the high school seniors were treated to dinner with their families, along with enter tainment from Reflections, the vocal group from Daniel Boone High School. President of the Tennessee Farm Bureau Jeff Aiken also shared a few remarks after dinner and before each student was awarded a medal he or she will later wear with cap and gown at graduation.
Upon receiving their awards, each student’s career goals and current achievements and involvement in sports and clubs were also mentioned. From robotics and drama club to football and softball, these future dentists, lawyers, pharmacists and educators were showcased for being well-rounded, but above all, dedicated to their studies.
“Many of our students, you’ll see, are involved in a lot of extra curricular activities. But this banquet is a way to say, ‘We also recognize the number one thing that you’re here for and that is getting a quality education,’” Halliburton said. “I just think so many times we honor athletes, and that’s important, I don’t want to take away from that, but what we’re really about is your academic education. You’ve got to make sure that you’re honoring that.
“The students who have worked hard academically sometimes get left behind. They get left out. And I think that we should do more to honor academic achievement.”
The event focused not only on the future and the inevitable change often associated with graduation; it was also about continuing hard work and striving to stay on a path which has set these students on an avenue to success so far in their lives.
“Beyond the academics,” Halliburton said, “there are a lot of things that these particular students in the top 10 did right — making good decisions, practicing their faith, staying close to their family, working hard, being kind to one another, helping one another out. I just want to encourage them as they move on to university to continue those same kinds of habits that led them to this place.”
The Daniel Boone High School students honored at the banquet included Victoria Barnett, Nashirra Best, Brianna Birchfield, Chadwick Blankenship, Nolan Bledsoe, Mackenzie Boughner, Chloe Buckingham, Kelby Buxton, Josie Carter, Natalie Chandler, Elizabeth Edwards, Dominique Fair, John Good, Kennedi Hambrick, Kaitlyn Harville, Sarah Hayes, Lauren Head, Blake Hicks, Grace Holdway, Deborah Karpeh, Taylor Marsh, Heather McCreary, Mason Mounger, Emily Napier, Greyson Nave, Gunnar Norris, Jacob Pfefferkorn, Josie Roark, Whitney Sams, Noah Shelton, Morgan Snapp, Hope Stidham, Kaytlin Stout and Kaleigh Utterback.
The David Crockett High School students honored at the banquet included Kailee Amburgey, Saxton Beals, Tristan Blevins, Emily Bowens, Garrett Bray, Erika Brickey, James Broyles, Taylor Carmack, William Compton, Alexander Conner, Corbin Cowden, Dakota Euscher, Sydney Fox, Caitlyn France, Dray Gentry, Zeb Holland, Kyra Holt, Rebecca Jaynes, Lenzie Jenkins, Sierra Kinley, Makina Lambert, Dakota Lemerond, Casey Luevanos, Rachael Neufield, Kylee Phalen, Breanna Roy, Isabelle Tisor, Chance Trent, Hannah Vaughn, Reagan Vest, Isabel Vallanueva and Mary Whaley.