The LHHS PTA held their annual Awards Luncheon yesterday, recognizing faculty, staff and parents whose service has been exemplary. PTA President Donna Kent led the ceremony, with RISD administrators Bob DeVoll and Patti Kieker attending and Luke Davis, our ever-present RISD school board trustee, adding his applause. Photos from the PTA Awards Luncheon are viewable here.

Principal Walter Kelly presented a PTA Life Membership to Fran Tesh, manager of the school cafeteria. Comparing her to one of her delectable coconut cream pies, Kelly called her tough on the outside and soft on the inside. “Fran cares about people and is always willing to help.” He quoted LHHS math teacher Robert Rowe as saying “Fran exhibits heart in everything she does.”

Crysta Jones presented a Life Membership to retired banker and LH dad Bob Heger, saying “he has a smile and word of encouragement for students and teachers as he serves coffee in the school library, drives the Espree trailer to performances, rebuilds the Espree stage, sells program ads, and leads the dads’ number in the Senior Show.” Despite the fact that his youngest child is graduating, Heger said, “I’ll be here next year to help. This is a fantastic place.”

LHHS counselor Kitty Clark was the next honoree, and she was introduced by her sister Pam Mitchell, also a school counselor, and her niece Amy Mitchell Lowe, now a teacher at LHHS. “Kitty has given her expertise, guidance and love to your kids and to LHHS,” Mitchell said. Clark is retiring at the end of the school year.

Gina Blanton presented an Extended Service Award, given to those who’ve served over many years and who’ve previously received Life Membership recognition, to Meg Henderson. “Meg is one of LH’s finest and most respected volunteers. She always has a gracious beautiful smile and a positive, happy spirit. She should win the Nobel Peace Prize for working well with all the choir, Highlandette, cheer and soccer moms over the years.”

LHHS teacher Julie Higgins recognized Tina Burns for her Extended Service, saying “Tina is steadfast like a Scout – she’s a hard-worker who gives dedication to every job she’s been asked to fulfill.” Tina also won the Golden Apple Award for giving the most volunteer hours.

Cynthia Devaney received the Extended Service Award from Penne Collett, who recalled their days as “first-grade buddies” when their youngest children went off to Wallace Elementary together. “Cynthia came to Wallace ready to change things,” Penne said, “so she got involved, served two years as president, started the STARS reading program and began the Wallace Weekly newsletter. She’s been creating school newsletters ever since, through LHJH, LHFC and LHHS. Cynthia wrote for the noonday news on Channel 8, and she took our LHHS PTA website to a whole new level.”

Penne was then surprised to become a recipient of the Wildcat Award, presented by Beth Hanks. “I admire Penne most because she volunteers due to her own children first, but then she becomes a champion for all kids. She’s a ‘big picture mom’ who thinks about how decisions will affect the whole team, and she falls in love with every child.”

Donna Kent recognized Cheryl Zreet with the Wildcat Award, saying “Cheryl was the driving force behind improvements to the courtyard and the Wildcat sculpture in honor of Dr. Iden.” Said Karen Clardy, “We can always count on Cheryl. Her service to the LH community, faculty and students is done with 100% effort.”

Mr. Kelly presented Donna Kent with the Heart of Gold Award, calling her “a skilled communicator with a genius for planning and implementing ideas. Donna has a heart for those who need it most. She wants to do good for all the students of LHHS.”

Finally, the new officers were sworn in by past-president Melanie Cowlishaw, and the PTA careers of moms with graduating seniors was complete. Congratulations honorees and good luck to new president Kathy Stewart and her entire board.