This year’s Sedalia Showcase was set up as a celebration of education in the city and Pettis County, but Thursday’s event included celebrations of four individuals who have made significant impacts on the local learning landscape.
The eighth annual showcase, sponsored by Economic Development of Sedalia-Pettis County, was titled “Leading the Way Through Education” and included stops at Smith-Cotton Junior High, Smith-Cotton High School, State Fair Community College, Sacred Heart School and Heber Hunt Elementary School to provide insights into the role education plays in the local economy and preparing students for the work force.
In remarks inside the Heckart Performing Arts Center at Smith-Cotton High School, Harriet Wolfe, superintendent of Sedalia School District 200, said: “Our school system mirrors the culture and commitment of the community, and in fact this marvelous building you are sitting in today is one very clear reminder of the commitment of
She said the district “would be remiss if we did not recognize two of our most consistent community supporters,” as she honored Sue Heckart and Charlie Marshall for their contributions.
Heckart, a member of
S-C’s Class of 1957, has provided more than $3.5 million in donations to local educational outlets, including an endowed scholarship for Pettis County graduates, the Heckart Science and Allied Health Center at State Fair Community College, fine arts contributions and support of the Sedalia Symphony Orchestra.
Wolfe added, “Smith-Cotton High School could not be more blessed than to have the Heckart Performing Arts Center.”
Marshall “consistently supports Sedalia’s youths and the educational system,” Wolfe said, noting his contributions to the Boys and Girls Clubs of West-Central Missouri and SFCC’s athletics department, along with providing meals, scholarships, uniforms and sponsorships of district tournaments and S-C athletics radio broadcasts.
“Charlie Marshall is indeed an outstanding contributor and one of the most generous Southern gentlemen I have ever met,” Wolfe said.
Marshall said, “The things we do are things we feel are our responsibility to do as members of the community. But the things (teachers and administrators) do, that is something that makes a real impact on our community every day.”
John Swearingen, president of Economic Development of Sedalia-Pettis County, then turned the tables, honoring Wolfe and SFCC President Marsha Drennon, both of whom will retire at the end of the upcoming academic year.
Swearingen said Wolfe and Drennon “have lived and breathed education every day of their lives. ... We want to thank you for the portion of your careers that you have spent in Sedalia and Pettis County.”
The showcase participants, a collection of local and state business and economic development leaders, toured local education facilities where they were given a history lesson on the former high school, which is now the junior high, by Principal Wade Norton; and toured the Daum Museum of Contemporary Art and heard a presentation on the renewable energy program at SFCC. They also heard from Sedalia elementary principals and Sacred Heart Principal Mark Register about advances in their schools.
At Smith-Cotton High, they were treated to a grand entrance including cheerleaders and the marching band; viewed displays by student groups including the Math Club and Envirothon; saw Team SCREAM’s T-shirt cannon robot in action and heard a presentation on the impact of the JROTC program.
Mayor Elaine Horn, citing inspiration from the Sedalia Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Sedalia program, announced that she has launched a junior leadership program. The initial student participants are Abby Monsees, Alexia Goodson, Hannah Ott, Jovana Cervantes and Michaela Pomajzl.
“Their ideas will help improve life for youth in our community,” Horn said.
In his remarks at the Heckart center, Swearingen said: “When a company is looking to locate their business to an area, or when they are looking to expand their business that is already in an area, the first question they ask about is the education system. ... Education is a clear mainstay to the economy of this community.”
Wolfe said: “We know that an excellent educational system affects the ability of businesses to attract quality employees, the real estate market and the overall success and progress of the community. ... The most cost-effective way of strengthening the work force is through public education.”