By Sharon Semanie
For the Piqua Daily Call
PIQUA — Nearly one hour elapsed before senior Christine Heisey arrived at Monday evening’s 21st Annual Miami County Excellence in Education Awards Dinner at Edison Community College. The Milton-Union High School co-valedictorian, whose Bulldog softball team had just routed their opponent 19-0, was still attired in her black and red sports uniform as she joined 26 other valedictorians, salutatorians and top scholars at the dinner sponsored by the Miami County Educational Service Center.
Heisey epitomizes the cast of exemplary seniors who were recognized for their tenacity and hard work and, in turn, paid tribute to teachers whose motivation, charisma and “passion” for teaching inspired them along the way.
“That’s how we do it,” smiled Milton-Union Principal Scott Bloom, as Heisey — a softball captain — joined three other co-valedictorians from her Class of 2014 on stage. Heisey, he noted, has been actively involved in softball and volleyball, a three-year member of the National Honor Society and volunteer at community blood drives. This fall she enters the freshman class at Wright State University where she’ll major in business economics and finance.
Heisey, daughter of Jeff and Christina Heisey, lauded art teacher Ben Deeter as the individual who had the “greatest influence” on her high school experience adding “he’s a kind soul who genuinely cares,” sentiments repeated many times throughout the evening.
There was an abundance of star power within the walls of the Edison theatre as members of the Class of 2014, their parents, teachers, principals and superintendents gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of the valedictorians and salutatorians as well as educators who helped them along the way. Each student was asked to choose one teacher who had the most influence on his/her education and each was given a commemorative plaque.
Throughout the one and one-half hour program, several hundred individuals sat mesmerized as they were introduced to tomorrow’s leaders. Not only were there members of the National Honor Society who amassed grade point averages beyond 4.0 but also leaders in organizations such as the Student Council, National Merit commended scholars, Advanced Placement students, athletes who excelled at the state level, thespians in school musicals, musicians in concert/pep/marching bands and community volunteers whose time and talent extended beyond local soup kitchens, Dayton Children’s Hospital and youth camps to mission work in New York City, Haiti and Cambodia. One senior testified before a Congressional hearing while another played the violin for the Dayton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra having performed in Germany.
Calculus teachers were given an A-plus grade judging by the number of Miami County mathematics teachers who were given accolades along with a cosmetology instructor, Bible instructor and even a middle school science teacher who purchased lab books for students with money from his own pocket. Many teachers inspired students to enter career fields upon graduation.
While students have been accepted to schools such as Cal Poly Technical Institute and Texas A&M, a “bumper crop” are expected to enroll at Wright State University as well as other private and state schools — Miami, The Ohio State University, Toledo, Akron and Bowling Green — throughout Ohio. Many are pursuing degrees in science, engineering and education while other eager graduates aspire to become a cartoon animator or naturalist.
School districts represented at Monday’s “Excellence in Education” event were as follows:
Bethel High School — Katelyn Kahle, valedictorian, and honored teacher, Mark Clute; and Madeline Ellerbrock, salutatorian, and teacher Robert Hamlin.
Bradford High School — Brandon Wyson, valedictorian, and honored teacher Rocco Latino; and Karmen Knepp, salutatorian, and teacher Maggie Pruitt.
Covington High School — Jaclyn Siefring, valedictorian, and honored teacher Carolyn Iddings; and Katelyn Phillis, salutatorian, and teacher Sara Plozay.
Miami East High School — Angela Mack, valedictorian, and honored teacher Kalyn Fowler; and Samantha Skidmore, salutatorian, and teacher Becky Weldy.
Milton-Union High School — Jesica Ferguson, co-valedictorian, and honored teacher Tom Purkey; Christine Heisey, co-valedictorian, and teacher Ben Deeter; Leann Puterbaugh, co-valedictorian, and teacher Megan Bryson and Courtney Richardson, co-valedictorian, and teacher Deborah Kurtz.
Newton High School — Ryan Hines, valedictorian, and honored teacher Julie Overman; and Drew Drieling, salutatorian, and teacher Scott Davis.
Piqua High School — Courtney Bensman, valedictorian, and honored teacher David Williams; and Emily Wenrick, salutatorian, and teacher Gregory Hawk.
Tippecanoe High School — Samantha Bonifas, valedictorian, and honored teacher Debra Bringman; Lauren Brackman, valedictorian, and teacher Leonard Kenyon; Brad Bruns, valedictorian, and teacher Annette Malott; Alex Demers, valedictorian, and teacher/coach William “Bill” Moore; Richard Grieshop, valedictorian, and teacher Aimee Noel, and Tara Boehringer, salutatorian, and teacher Denise Stovell.
Troy Christian High School — Rebecca Lybarger, valedictorian, and honored teacher David Gaines; and Margaret “Meg” Conover, salutatorian, and teacher/principal Michael Orange.
Troy High School — Noelle Culp, valedictorian, and honored teacher Wayne Nirode; and Erin Dodd, salutatorian, and teacher Jason Scott.
Upper Valley Career Center — Jenna Sherman, top scholar, and honored teacher Michaella Quinter.
As part of the evening’s entertainment, musical performances were given by Bethel High School students Bobbi-Jo Myers, vocalist, and Kaitlyn Parker, alto saxophonist. Tom Dunn, superintendent of the Miami County Educational Service Center, served as emcee.