Pawhuska honors its leading high school scholars

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

The broader community last week honored the top 10 percent of academic achievers at Pawhuska High School.

The late winter event dates back more than three decades, and the 2021 edition – held the evening of March 1 in the Agriculture Building at the Osage County Fairgrounds -- recognized the outstanding performance of 25 students.

“Survivor” was the single-word theme for the 2021 PHS Honors Banquet, which was supported by more than 40 sponsors including businesses, civic groups and individuals. There was no food served this year, as a result of COVID-19 precautions.

Featured speaker Matt Hennesy, head coach of the PHS football program, challenged the honorees not to settle for mere survival. He suggested the word “champion,” defined as someone who exceeds all established performance standards, as the appropriate objective.

Hennesy, who has been building a culture of achievement both on and off the football field since his arrival at PHS three years ago (his teams have won 29 games, while losing just eight), reminded his audience that his proudest moment every year during the football honors program is when the Huskies’ football all-academic team is presented. That team characteristically includes both players and students who work in support positions.

“Champions adjust when situations change,” Hennesy said. “You change with it, and you still find a way to win.”

He argued that the 2021 honorees had done just that. In the face of unprecedented uncertainties caused by the spread of the COVID-19 virus, they had made personal adjustments and succeeded academically. Several young men who played on the PHS Huskies football team last fall were among the students honored March 1.

Commenting that he thinks adversity reveals character that has already been built, Hennesy paid tribute to parents and others who had been involved in the character development of the 25 honorees. He also encouraged the honorees to demonstrate leadership by insisting that their peers attempt to achieve more in the classroom.

“Find somebody who is not doing that and drag them along with you,” Hennesy said. “Keep leading. Keep pulling our school up.”

Students honored at the 2021 PHS Honors Banquet included: Amadeaus Reeves, Jozelyn Brace, Taleah Forte, Leigha Easley, Shelby Laird, Samuel Tell Richardson, Arianna Soliano, Linaye Jeffers, Jordan Nelson, Madison Quinton, Leah McNeil, Dalton Hurd, Ryck Quillen, Karlie Long, Gianna “Gigi” Sieke, Zowie Miles, John Reed, Payge Butcher, Alexus Wilson, Shanell Cochrane, Deacon Hendren, Micah McNeil, Laurel Moody, Mason Snodgrass and Emma McKibben.

The group consisted of seven seniors, seven juniors, five sophomores and six freshmen.