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The hugs were plentiful. Smiles were a mainstay and some people shed tears.
The evening was all about the children in Lancaster County who’ve made strides toward excellence and the proud parents, teachers and others who support them along the way.
On Thursday, the three Rotary clubs in Lancaster County held the third annual Principals’ Choice Awards – an honor that recognizes students for achievement in and outside the classroom. The ceremony was held in a packed Bundy Auditorium at the University of South Carolina at Lancaster.
“We realize many students are only recognized for high academics,” local Rotarian Bobby Bailey said. “You don’t have to have straight A’s (to win this award). You have to be a good person, a good citizen.”
The Rotary clubs asked each principal in the Lancaster County School District to select three students to receive the honor. During the ceremony, the winners stood on stage while their principal told the audience about their qualities.
Sixty students were honored.
Shari Sims is proud that her son, Patric, was able to maintain focus after his grandmother’s death in October.
Sims, a senior at Lancaster High School, was close to his grandmother, who lived with him and took him to school many mornings. He dedicated his Principals’ Choice Award to her memory.
“I want to do things I know she’ll be proud of me doing,” he said.
Perhaps the most touching moment of the event was during Indian Land High School’s award presentation. Principal Kathy Faris chose the late Derek Hammaker as one of the recipients.
Hammaker, who was a senior at Indian Land High this year, was killed in an auto accident in January.
His parents, David and Linda Hammaker, received the award in his honor.
“They thought enough of him to do this,” said a teary-eyed David Hammaker. “The support of the community – we could never thank them enough.”
In between the award presentations, a joint chorus of students from Clinton, Discovery, Indian Land and Kershaw elementary schools sang a few tunes.
Students in Andrew Jackson Middle School’s arts program performed selections from the “Annie” production. Andrew Jackson High’s dance students performed a routine, as well.
District Superintendent Dr. Gene Moore expressed his gratitude for the Rotary clubs’ involvement with student affairs.
“When the community is involved and supportive of what’s going on in education, that helps everyone succeed,” Moore said.
List of winners
A.R. Rucker Middle School
- Chandler Robert Willi Lenard, eighth grade
- Ja’Pa Jarel Lockhart, eighth grade
- JaQuannah Nicole Steward, sixth grade
Andrew Jackson High School
n- Shaquita Shonta’ Jones, 11th grade
- Anqavis Roshod McCain, 11th grade
- Robert Leslie Pettit, 12th grade
Andrew Jackson Middle School
- Jonathan Andrew Garris, seventh grade
- Ziane Q. Green, eighth grade
- Angel Enrique Peralta, sixth grade
Brooklyn Springs Elementary School
- Ignacio Ramirez Alcantara, third grade
- Jerica Marie Robles, fifth grade
- Latavia Ariana Woodard, third grade
Buford Elementary School
- Justin Leeshawn Hayden, first grade
- Austin Max Morris, second grade
- Jenson Bailey Wallace, fifth grade
Buford High School
- Michael Childers, 12th grade
- Jena Hallman, 10th grade
- Frederick Jenkins, 11th grade
Buford Middle School
- Tra Brazell, eighth grade
- Michael Keating, seventh grade
- Santrez Wright, sixth grade
Clinton Elementary School
- Matthew Martin, fourth grade
- Brandie Stevenson, second grade
- Jaelyn Lockhart, kindergarten
- Alaina Houghtaling, second grade
- Kennedy Reed, third grade
- Ryan Reeves, first grade
Erwin Elementary School
- Chase Ford, third grade
- Keja Mackey, fourth grade
- Kionte Stewart, fifth grade
Heath Springs Elementary
- Austin Mackey, fourth grade
- Shoshana Moore, third grade
- Haley Sims, fifth grade
Indian Land Elementary
- Daelin Cimone Buford, third grade
- Joshua Clavin Mohr, fifth grade
- James Mason Therrell, third grade
Indian Land High School
- Derek Nicholas Hammaker, 12th grade
- Keyadd Dennis Miller, 11th grade
- Carolyn Ruth Turbeville, 12th grade
Indian Land Middle School
- Shaqueena Shonte Biggers, eighth grade
- Hector Eduardo Gonzalez Jr., seventh grade
- Cody Allen Staton, seventh grade
Kershaw Elementary School
- Reginald Point Jr., third grade
- Karmen Breann Robinson, fourth grade
- T.J. Tolbert, fifth grade
Lancaster High School
- Casey Lionel Catoe, 12th grade
- Maria Valdivia Quadalupe, 11th grade
- Sanuel Patric Sims, 12th grade
McDonald Green Elementary School
- Acacia Clyburn, fourth grade
- Zachary Smith, second grade
- Adriana Vanquez, fifth grade
North Elementary School
- Geekeyvia McCain, fifth grade
- Gracie Scott, fourth grade
- Janee Wright, third grade
South Middle School
- Anessia Alexander, sixth grade
- Yvette Lopez-Sanchez, seventh grade
- A.J. Williams, eighth grade
Contact Jesef Williams at 283-1152 or email@example.com