By Alison Goldenstein
To celebrate and recognize the honors, awards, and scholarships that the seniors of Lincoln High School (LHS) received, families, faculty and staff, and the entire student body gathered in Johnson Gym on Monday, May 11, 2015 along with the senior class to congratulate their hard work.
However, not only was Lincoln High saying goodbye to the senior class, they were also wishing a happy retirement to 20-year principal Dr. Mike Wortman. As seniors gathered in the theatre before proceeding to the gym, they wrote thank you notes to Wortman for all of his efforts and time spent making Lincoln High what it is today. Wortman was only told by administrators to hold a red bucket and stand at the end of the row of chairs as seniors entered the gym. To Wortman’s surprise, they dropped hundreds of notes into his red bucket. The idea for this wonderful surprise came to LHS Media Specialist Paula McClung via Zachary Bear of the LPS communications department. He had e-mailed McClung a video of a similar event from a school in Wichita, Kansas.
“Some of the senior students I talked to suggested, ‘Well why don’t we do this at the senior awards ceremony?’ and so we got the cards made up, got a bright red bucket and decided that was the best time that we could thank him for all he has done at Lincoln High” McClung said.
Once in the gym, the senior class was presented with over $5 million in awards and scholarships. Two of the most common and well-known scholarships among Lincoln Public Schools are the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation Scholarship and the Southeast Community College – Learn to Dream Scholarship. At LHS this year, 13 students were awarded the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation Scholarship and 61 students received the Southeast Community College – Learn to Dream Scholarship. The seniors walked across stage in the gym, full of smiles, while they shook hands and accepted their senior awards and scholarships.
Many seniors can say they received multiple scholarships, but not many can say they received dozens. Senior athlete Jason Towery was awarded with 29 scholarships at the Senior Awards Convocation. Towery began this achievement by searching for out-of-state scholarships that he qualified for, since he planned on attending an out-of-state college and will be doing so in the fall, and then filled out as many as he possibly could. Towery recalls applying for about 40 scholarships.
“That’s the biggest goal, and I’m grateful for all of it,” Towery said when asked if his college experience would be entirely paid for without student loans.
Alongside being presented with scholarships, seniors were also presented with honors such as Department Awards, Athlete of the Year, National Merit Scholar, and many others.
Almost 60 seniors were awarded with department awards ranging from honors such as Outstanding Sculpture Student, presented to Christina Joseph, Music Director’s Award for Band, presented to Donovan Comer and Aren Dooley, Outstanding ELL Student, presented to students Gin Khai, Paw Spai Moo, Jesus Ruiz Izaguirre, and Sawsan Elias, and many, many more.
Every year, the honor for Athlete of the Year is presented to one male and one female senior student athlete. The award for male Athlete of the Year this year was received by Frank Cuddy for his outstanding accomplishments and participation in Cross Country, Basketball and Track. The female Athlete of the Year honor was awarded to Emily Toman for her efforts and time put into Volleyball, Basketball, Track and Tennis.
The 2015 National Merit Scholarship winners, also known as Valedictorians, were Carissa Wei and Isabel Schneider. Only the most qualified senior/seniors with the highest Grade Point Average (GPA) of the class is able to fit this role. Wei and Schneider both maintained a GPA of 4.5 over the last four years. In order to do that, they both took on a heavy load of weighted classes. Holding an honor like this opened up many more doors for these two. Wei will be attending Washington University in St. Louis, Missori, and Schneider will be going to Tufts University of Boston, Massachussetts. Both seniors participated in the International Baccalaureate Program at LHS for the past four years.
“IB is a really academically rigorous program, and colleges like to see that in transcripts.” Schneider said.
For the 2014-2015 school year, Lincoln High School is proud to graduate 335 seniors this year. Among those graduates will be 21 International Baccalaureate Diploma Candidates, 17 graduates who maintained a GPA of 4.0 or above for all 8 semesters, and top in the class, Carissa Wei. Congratulations to the 2015 graduates.