The Lake Highlands Exchange Club presented their end-of-year awards Friday, recognizing outstanding students and teachers whose accomplishments and dedication have been particularly inspirational.
Youth of the Year were Micael Lonergan and Brett Stell.
Brett, first-chair violinist in the LHHS Honors Orchestra and captain of the Wildcat baseball team, has received an appointment to the Air Force Academy. He is president of the National Honor Society, serves as a camp counselor, and earned his pilot’s license at age 18.
Micael, president of the Student Council and member of Dr. Waggoner’s Superintendent Advisory Council, has earned a scholarship to Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. She was a member of the award-winning UIL One-Act Play team and acted as stage manager for Highlandette Revue, school musicals and other LHHS productions. She organized a bowling tournament to establish the Rosenzweig Memorial Scholarship in the name of her mentor and former teacher, Joel Rosenzweig.
A.C.E. Awards (Accepting the Challenge of Excellence) were earned by Semien Hagos and Derrick Boateng.
Derrick, born and raised in Ghana, arrived in Lake Highlands in 2011 and started school at LHFC in 2012. Despite leaving most of his family behind – he hasn’t seen his mom or his siblings in almost four years – and learning a new language, he managed to excel. Derrick, a member of the Wildcat soccer team, NHS, and AVID, is a ministry team leader at his church. He will study aerospace engineering at UTA.
Semien came to America from Ethiopia as a child, then lost her father at age 13. During (and after) her mother’s cancer battle, she and her sister, Rama, lived with another LH family, working to support themselves. She developed a devotion to the Red Cross after her LH apartment complex burned. Even facing all of these hurdles, Semien became captain of the cross country and track teams, she vice-president of Girls Service League, president of LHHS Red Cross and committee chair for Student Council. She will attend the University of Arkansas.
Teachers of the Year were Irene Casburn of White Rock Elementary, Katy Goodrich of Aikin Elementary, Beth Heath of Moss Haven Elementary, Carol Kellum of Wallace Elementary and Marissa Tavallaee of Lake Highlands High School.