Students who build success in relative silence had their praises sung and the catalog of their accomplishments read aloud on Wednesday night in the Smith-Cotton High School cafeteria.
The third annual Activities Banquet celebrated mathematicians and marketers, environmentalists and educators-to-be. Students, activity sponsors, family members and S-C staff packed the room to pay tribute to students who devote time after school and on weekends to put their education into action.
The banquet was planned by seniors Dalton Hermanson and Edward Toderescu-Stavila, as if either of them needed another thing to do. Dalton is active in National Honor Society, Student Council, Medical Explorers and HOSA-Future Health Professionals. Edward also is in NHS and is the state president for HOSA-Future Health Professionals; in addition, he is a two-time English Horn honorable mention performer with the Missouri All-State Orchestra and this weekend is competing in two events at the MSHSAA Speech and Debate state finals. Dalton’s sister, Mikayla, was instrumental in starting the banquet in 2017 and Dalton and Edward have run the show the past two years.
“This event is important to me because it allows students to be noticed who may not otherwise be,” Dalton said. “It allows students’ academic advancements to be praised rather than the common praise of athletics in our schools. I believe that it is very important to be involved with clubs and organizations, and I think that it is equally important to recognize those who are involved.”
Groups participating in the banquet were Student Council, Link Crew, Speech and Debate, Math Team, Science Club, Envirothon, National Honor Society, Medical Explorers, HOSA-Future Health Professionals, DECA, Educators Rising, FCCLA and FBLA. In brief remarks to start the evening, Principal Wade Norton shared that he was not involved in any activities during his Smith-Cotton days, and he now sees that as a missed opportunity.
“Activities and the things you all are involved in make this school what it is. … They make our school a more powerful force, not only in our community, not only in the region or the state, but recently we go well beyond that with all of the accolades that our activities have been earning to go on to national competitions,” he said. Norton also noted that high school activities give students opportunities to explore interest areas and possibly find careers.
Adam Braverman of Capstone Precision Group also addressed the group, discussing a pair of his company’s marketing campaigns that S-C DECA students participated in. Braverman said the students weren’t just observers; they worked on everything from point-of-sale materials to redemption of the rebates.
“It was great watching those participants work together to create something new and something they had never done before,” he said. “The Sedalia-Pettis County community is a better place because of the involvement of groups like yours.”
Senior Akaycia Mather nearly wore a path in the floor between her seat and the podium where awards were presented. She was recognized for her work with Student Council, National Honor Society and the Math Club, including being named the female Outstanding Senior in Mathematics. She sees the Activities Banquet as an important milestone in the school year.
“Activities are what I do after school,” she said. “I think (activities) are really important; they teach a lot of life skills like time management, responsibility, leadership and they involve you a lot in the community. Community service is a big part of a lot of the things I do.”
Activities aren’t just for skill-building and flexing academic muscles.
“Most of my friends are in the clubs I am in, and if they are not then I make new friends along the way,” Akaycia said.
Dalton stressed other rewards of being involved at school, including opening doors to loads of scholarship dollars. Many groups offering scholarships aren’t interested in students’ athletic accomplishments, but rather want to know what academic activities they participated in.
“I think that founding the activities banquet in 2017 was a huge step in the right direction for our school and community,” Dalton said. “I think it provides recognition for the students who focus their time, efforts, and talents to do what they enjoy doing. … Our school and community should be proud of and support our students competing in academic realms, and I think that the Activities Banquet provides a sliver of that support.”