LOWELL | Pride filled the room May 5 as Lowell High School celebrated its top academic graduates of 2013 and the teachers that most influenced therm at the annual LHS PRIDE Banquet.
Hosted by teachers Kevin Deal and Joseph Gianotti at The Lighthouse in Cedar Lake, the evening brought together administrators, honored students, honored teachers and their proud families.
After a welcome by Principal Mike Chelap and the meal, student honoree Hannah Felder introduced the Honorary PRIDE Award recipient, Lowell Middle School science teacher Beverly Free, who was selected by as vote of the 29 honored students as an outstanding educator.
"All the seniors hold a meeting, and we like to honor someone who typically is not selected by individual students, maybe because they don't usually teach honors classes or subjects," said Gianotti. "There are usually several nominees, and the students take a vote."
Free chose "The Principles of the Puzzle" as the theme for her address to the students, reminding them that while some puzzles are easy to put together, others are difficult, as are the challenges they face in life.
"You are completing a major puzzle," she reminded them in reference to their high school graduation.
Each of the student honorees was introduced as a photo of them as a young child was matched on a projection screen with their senior portrait, and their accomplishments and future plans were read aloud. Chelap then announced the teacher each student chose as their most influential, from kindergarten through high school.
Julia Witvliet chose elementary teacher Mary Hefner, who "helped me catch up when I was behind after moving to Lowell 10 years ago," while Kyle Eller mulled several of his teachers before deciding on Pete Weiand, using as his criteria "how a teacher presented the information and stayed on task while keeping it fun."
Selected by honor graduate Sarah Edwards, first-time teacher honoree Amanda Haskins called her recognition "an honor. My students inspire me, and to know that I still have an influence after they attend middle and high school, is very inspiring."