Sell-out crowd honors PHS elite students

Kathryn SwanJ-C Correspondent
Sell-out crowd honors PHS elite students

A sell-out crowd of more than 270 guests gathered Monday night to honor 28 of Pawhuska’s most elite students at the 26th Annual PHS Honors Banquet.

Sights and sounds spanning three decades from the 1950s to the 1970s created the perfect backdrop for one of the greatest entertainers of all time – Elvis Presley. He was portrayed by multi-award winner Elvis impersonator Marshall Matthews. Attired in an authentic replica of one of Presley’s glitziest jumpsuits, Matthews led the students through the hall for their “Walk of Fame.”

Senior Kellie Pate led the Pledge of Allegiance followed Senior Ashley Youngwolfe’s beautiful rendition of the National Anthem. Senior Macy Hurd concluded the opening ceremony with the invocation. Senior Stephanie Leslie created the delightful multimedia presentation. Long-time supporters Ron and Debbie Reed served as emcees.

Throughout the massive hall, careful attention had been given to recreating the rock ‘n roll era. Assorted vinyl records and keyboards adorned the black-draped tables. Pink carnations filled vintage soda fountain glasses. An oversized juke box, silhouettes of dancing couples and a red 1968 GTO (courtesy of Jerry Loftis) added to the ambiance.

Members of the Pawhuska Elks lodge prepared a delicious chicken-fried steak dinner which was served by Junior High “A” Honor Roll students. ESA members dished up foaming root beer floats in vintage-inspired souvenir mugs.

Guest speaker Tonya Foreman, Director of Business Development for the Bartlesville Strategy Center, not only complemented the honorees but shared some down-home advice with them, encouraging each one to live life to the fullest and to follow three points. “First, chose your friends wisely,” said Foreman. “You are influenced by those who you chose to surround you.” Laughing, she said, “My Daddy used to say if you hang out with dogs, you’ll get fleas!” On a serious note, Foreman concluded, “Do not be afraid to laugh. Most, importantly, love. There are no guarantees for tomorrow. We do have a guarantee for today.”

Before launching into some of Elvis Presley’s most beloved melodies, impersonator Marshal Matthews gave the honorees a brief history about the famous entertainer. “Elvis Presley was born in 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi,” said Matthews. “He was a twin but his brother died shortly after birth. Elvis was also a decedent of Abe Lincoln. In 1973, Elvis Presley was the biggest tax payer in U.S. history. Fans lovingly referred to him as ‘The King.’ However, Elvis reminded them that Jesus Christ is ‘The King’ and that he was simply an entertainer.”

Matthews’ resemblance and voice were amazing as he belted out “Blue Suede Shoes” and “You Ain’t Nothing but a Hound Dog.” Much to the delight of the audience, he was joined on stage by Debbie Reed, Cindy Helmer, Tonya Foreman and Blayne Shuping who shared a few dance twirls with Elvis. After which, the ladies were each presented with one of Presley’s signature scarves.

Mayor Roger Taylor read a proclamation, designating March 2nd as Pawhuska’s 26th Annual PHS Scholars Day. Awards and good bags were presented to each class. Seniors received assorted scholarships which included a $500 scholarship from the Educational Trust Fund, $50 from First National Bank, $50 from the Pawhuska Pubic Schools Foundation and $200 from the Honors Banquet Committee. For the first time since the Honors Banquet’s began, an additional $100 scholarship was presented to 4-year honorees, Dakota Jester, Tyler Reece, Andie Sweeden and Ashley Youngwolfe.

Janette Murray, 12-year Honors Banquet Chair, was recognized for her leadership and devotion to the program with a plaque, flowers and standing ovation. Murray had been an active supporter of the Honors Program since it originated 26 years ago.

The memory-filled evening concluded with a moving rendition of Presley’s “Dixieland.” Matthews explained this song ordinated from the Civil War. Asking each veteran to be recognized, Matthews said he ended each performance with this tribute to America’s warriors. Climaxing this moving tribute, Matthews waved America’s most majestic symbol of freedom – Old Glory.

Honor students for 2015 include Seniors Makayla Deatherage, Macy Hurd, Dakota Jester, Kellie Pate, Tyler Reece, Andie Sweeden, Mallory Welch and Ashley Youngblood. Juniors are Stephanie Clifton, Gage Dagenais, Lance Harden, Shelby Haught, Tucker Helmer, Genie Herren, Hannah Horn, Karissa Hughes, Trent Hughes, Sara Phillippi and Breanna Redeagle. Sophomore honorees include Heather Conner, Madelyn Priest and Tristen Tucker. Freshmen honor students are Reese Collins, Brian Jeffers, Jade Jones, Hannah Laughlin, Sidney Walker and Braydon Wilson.