Dustin Smith emphasizes faith, effort, service

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

Guest speaker Dr. Dustin Smith had an intimate acquaintance with the circumstances of his target audience March 7 in the Ag Building at the Osage County Fairgrounds.

Smith, who holds a doctorate in Education from the University of Arkansas, graduated in the spring of 1995 from Pawhuska High School. He was Salutatorian of his class, president of the senior class and was named “Best All Around Senior.”

He spoke March 7 to the 23 academically best-performing students at Pawhuska High School and their families. The occasion was the Pawhuska community’s 33rd annual Honors Banquet for academically outstanding students at the high school. The local business community created the event to show its support for the school system. The theme for the 2022 banquet was, "PHS Scholars – Follow the Yellow Brick Road to Success." The event was also dedicated in the name of the late Jim Wilson, a retired Pawhuska educator who passed away in February at the age of 86.

Smith, who is athletic director for Greenwood Public Schools in Greenwood, Arkansas, said his success in life was statistically unlikely. He was the seventh of nine children, his parents divorced when he was young, financial resources were limited and he experienced Attention Deficit Disorder. His ACT score was a modest 21.

“Success is doing the most you can with what you have where you are,” Smith said. He recalled that all he desired was a chance to develop and compete.

Smith related that his childhood dream was to play shortstop for the Chicago Cubs. He didn’t weigh 100 pounds until his junior year in high school, but he went on to receive a scholarship to play baseball at Norhwestern Oklahoma State University. As a freshman, he injured his throwing shoulder and his baseball dream slipped away, but he did not lose his desire to do well in life.

Smith earned Bachelor’s degrees in Mass Communications and Physical Education, as well as a Master’s Degree in Sports Administration before pursuing a doctorate. He served for 10 years as Athletic Director at the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith.

”My faith is what gets me to where I am,” Smith said. He talked about having confidence that God is aware of the details of his existence, right down to the number of hairs on his head.

Smith told Pawhuska students that he values character over success, that he tries to continue learning (he revealed his wife refers to him as her “book nerd”), and he encouraged the students to look for opportunities to serve others.

”As you are on this road, look for ways to serve, not to shine,” Smith said. Being a husband and father are the greatest honors that life has brought him, he said.

PHS students honored March 7 were the top 10 percent of the school in terms of academic performance. Mayor Roger Taylor shared a proclamation from the Pawhuska City Council.

Seniors honored included Dalton Carpenter Hurd (4-year honoree); Linaye Elizabeth Jeffers, (4-year honoree), Jack Erwin Long (1-year honoree), Karlie Jo Long (2-year honoree), Leah Nicole McNeil (4-year honoree), Jordan LeeAnne Nelson (4-year honoree), Madison Kinoa Quinton (4-year honoree), Gianna Marie Sieke (3-year honoree/she has completed high school requirements in just 3 years), and Anthony Jimmy Soliano (1-year honoree).

Juniors honored included John Taylor Reed, and Alexus Blayre Wilson.

Sophomores included Shanell Marie Cochrane, Parris June Easley, Emma Lorena McKibben, Laurel Christian Moody and Mason Alan Snodgrass.

Freshmen included Canyon Noah Hindman, Lane Cole Kyler, Mikayla Ann Miller, Avery Madison Potts, George Edward Shaw, Addison Faye Thomas, and Madelene Sage Strikeaxe West.

Photo caption: Dr. Dustin Smith, right, served as guest speaker March 7, at the 33rd annual Pawhuska High School Honors Banquet. Smith is pictured with Debbie Reed, who introduced him to the banquet audience. Smith is a 1995 graduate of Pawhuska High School. He was Salutatorian of his class.