Nearly 400 family members packed the Dawson County High School commons area Thursday for senior honors night.
According to Principal Jute Wilson, the class of 2012 has been awarded about $100,000 in scholarships, more than last year’s estimated $65,000. To receive their scholarship certificates, the best and brightest were called up to the stage.
Area colleges presented academic scholarships, as did residents and local businesses. Both county political parties also presented financial awards.
Senior Tayler Hasbrouck received the Dawson County Democratic Party Scholarship from Bette Holland for “her hard work for her school and community.”
As part of her application, Hasbrouck wrote an essay on the need for affordable health care for all Americans.
Likewise, senior Noah Knight was granted the $1,000 Charles C. Smith, Jr. Memorial Scholarship by Clint Smith of the Dawson County Republican Party.
“My family wanted to honor my father [Charles C. Smith] by awarding a scholarship in his memory,” Clint Smith said. “Knight has plans to enter the military and I am proud to support him.”
More than 25 local groups, funds and businesses presented scholarships, including Big Canoe Chapel, which awarded 46.
One particularly touching presentation was the Gracie Claire Hill Memorial Scholarship awarded by Beth and Charlie Hill. Named after their daughter, who passed away at 5 months old, the $1,000 scholarship was given to Kelsey Stanfill in honor of the life Gracie would have lived.
“This [scholarship] is a way to give back. It allows Gracie’s life to bless others,” said Beth Hill. “Kelsey touched us because she has a missionary’s heart. It seems like she will carry on our love of kids. She just fit.”
Following the scholarship presentations, valedictorian Greer French, salutatorian Jessica Smith and Star Student Grant Shope were honored.
Class officers, honor graduates, National Honor Society members and student organization leaders were next in line for recognition.
Three students, including Colin Baer, were honored for perfect attendance from kindergarten through senior year.
Graduation Coach Steve Sweat awarded Baer, the only one present, a glass trophy.
Counselor Marjorie Poss surprised seniors Cody Hall and Emily Stowers by naming them Outstanding Senior Boy and Girl.
“What’s really cool is that this award comes from the votes of faculty and staff, people who have watched you whether you were playing sports or in the classroom,” Poss said.
Stowers, who plans to study speech pathology at the University of Georgia, was stunned when her name was called.
“It really meant a lot because I have poured a lot of my heart and soul into Dawson County High School,” she said. “It feels good to be recognized for that.”
Hall, who is the class president, was also proud to receive the honor. However, he said he was more excited to support his fellow students throughout the proceedings.
“Everyone in our class is so happy to be graduating and going on to the next chapter of our lives,” he said. “So being recognized by our teachers is a real honor.”
Next up for the class of 2012 — graduation, set for May 26 at the high school.