Published 12:00 am Monday, March 14, 2005

and families gather

for reception

By Griffin Pritchard

Parents and students from all over Butler County had the opportunity to mingle and get to know one another Tuesday night as a part of the county's Achiever Award Parent's Reception.

From the county, 30 students have been nominated to receive the annual award that is sponsored by the Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce as well as the Greenville Area YMCA. It is designed to recognize the most outstanding male and female athletes that the Butler County schools have to offer.

Those nominated for the award are also judged on their Christian, community and academic leadership on and off the playing field.

The award, which was introduced into the county by Keith Taylor is modeled after Montgomery's Jimmy Hitchcock award, which is sponsored by the Montgomery YMCA.

"I was at a baseball game a few years ago and the pitcher was running late," said Taylor. "When he finally got there, his teammate, who attended Fort Dale was fuming because he was late. The player looked at him and told him that he was late because he had spring football practice at Georgiana. The kid from Fort Dale never knew his friend played football. They both found out they played football for their respective schools. I watched parents in the stands from different parts of the county talk about their kid's athletic skills on the diamond and on the football field. And it kind of hit me, we've got great athletes all through the county, but they never know about each other or know each other because people tend to stay in their own groups. This award is a way for the kids to get together and meet one another and learn that they all have things in common."

Taylor presented the idea to Greg Fuller. The two then took the idea to various people throughout the County until it was put into motion as an actual scholarship award.

"They usually have around 800 people who come to their award ceremonies and presentations," said Amanda Phillips, executive director of the Butler County YMCA. "Since we've been doing the Achiever Award, we usually have around 400 people come to ours and that's pretty big."

Students who have been recipients of that award have gone on to excel in politics, law, medicine, education and many other professions as well as becoming leaders of their communities.

"I say congratulations to the Mammas and Daddy's in the audience tonight," said Taylor. "You should be very proud of what your child has accomplished. Teachers, coaches and administrators may have helped but you were there all the time helping to mold your child into what they are today."

The Principal or Headmaster along with the Athletic Director chose the nominees for the Achiever Award. Following the nominations, the students and their parents are then put through an interview by a panel of judges from outside of the Butler County area. Along with an interview, the Achiever Award takes into consideration athletic ability, scholastic ability and community efforts. From there the student's extracurricular activities and church involvement are taken into consideration.

The nominees from Greenville High School are Daie Johnson, Shannon Leutzinger, Savannah Stacy, Shae Durant, Morgan Crenshaw, Megan Brooks, Benjie Coghlan, Brad Hartsill, Kelcius Savage, Paul Norman, Andrew Hartman, Brandon Burnett and Victor Mack.

From Fort Dale Academy, the nominees are Laura Skipper, Stephanie Hood, Jehle Foster, Wesley Atkins, Mason Bass, Carson Moseley, Conyers Poole and Christopher Slagley.

The group of nominees from Georgiana High School is the largest contingent to come from the home of the Panthers since the Achiever Award's inception. This year seniors Courtney Rudolph, Jerome Mixon, Caleb Hartin, David Campbell and LaKesha Crittendon are all nominated for the award.

McKenzie High School rounds out the group wit their four contenders, Hope Morgan, Kayla Conard, Kassie Everett-Carroll and Jon Reid.

Nominees and their parents will take part in the interview portion of the competition set for April 19-20 at the Greenville Chamber of Commerce (the Depot). Students who are to be interviewed are asked to dress appropriately. Men should wear coats and ties while women should wear either pants or an appropriate dress.

The winner of the Butler County Achiever Award will be announced May 5 at a banquet held at the First Baptist Church's Family Life Center in Greenville. Tickets for the banquet cost $12 and parents or guardians of the nominees will have the opportunity to get tickets through April 20. Tickets for the public will go on sale beginning April 1, 2005. This year, the speaker for the banquet will be Virgil Starks who is currently the Associate Athletic Director at Auburn University.

The male and female student that are selected as the Achiever Award winner will receive a scholarship to assist in defraying educational expenses. The Achiever Award itself recognizes those students who excel above their ability and who realize that hard work is a reward unto itself. It also recognizes those students who apply 100 percent to every task they tackle and who by their actions create a role model for others. The winner will be chose by the attributes mentioned earlier combined with recommendations of friends, pastors and local educators.