The graduating class of 2019 – PBPN High school seniors were recognized at the 2019 Student Recognition Night.
By: Michelle Simon
April 17, 2019
The Boys & Girls Club of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, PBPN Language and Education departments along with the PBPN Johnson O’Malley committee and Title VI/USD #337 committee acknowledged K-12 students within their respective service areas for their scholastic accomplishments at an awards ceremony held at the Prairie Band Casino and Resort. The evening included a Mexican-themed meal along with a presentation of awards.
The first award announced was a Special Recognition Award received by Cheryl Hopkins, Boys & Girls Club Director of Operations, for the impact she has made in the lives of the children she has served beginning in September 1998, and still going strong.
The Prairie Band Potawatomi Language Department presented next, with Director Dawn LeClere announcing that over 164 children between the ages of 5 and 10 are learning the Prairie Band Potawatomi Language within the Royal Valley school system. LeClere thanked the Royal Valley administration for allowing all children within the schools the opportunity to learn the language.
LeClere then recognized the 36 teenage students that participate in the after-school teen night held on Wednesdays noting that these students are actively participating of their own accord. The Language Department shared a video they created with the students’ impressions about learning the Potawatomi language.
To conclude their portion, the staff of the Language department recognized 8th grade graduate Wyatt Boswell and 12th grade graduates Kiikto Thomas and Menon Irving with a special gift for each.
The next awards were delivered to the All-Around Student of the Year, with one award going to an elementary student, one to a middle school student and one to a high school student. Each student received a plaque of recognition. Award winners include Connor Noland – Elementary, Isabella Wheeler – Middle School and Abby Boeckman – High School.
Following, was the Outstanding Achievement Award bestowed upon the 2018-19 Royal Valley Girls Basketball team for their outstanding season, which included winning the 3A Girls State Basketball Championship.
Kiikto Thomas, a Royal Valley senior received the Outstanding Female Athlete Award for her skills on the basketball court and Mikal Kitchkommie, also a Royal Valley senior, received the Outstanding Male Athlete Award for his running abilities.
The next award of Unsung Hero went to Rossville 7th grade student Nagos Hale. Mikal Kitchkommie received the Outstanding Volunteer Award and the Outstanding Youth Service Professional Award was presented to Kyle Porter, Royal Valley High School teacher and Varsity Girls Head Coach.
Boys and Girls Club Director, Nathan Hale relayed the club recently received a generous donation to the scholarship fund on behalf of the Francis Jensen Family and took a moment to recognize long time financial supporters Mike and Julie Jensen, who have since passed. Hale then announced that the 2019 Scholarship was awarded to Royal Valley senior Keanu Shopteese in the amount of $1,000.
Then all of the students that had qualified at the state level through school-sponsored activities from the Spring 2018 season through the Winter 2019 season were invited to come up to the stage and announce their accomplishments, along with receiving a hoodie in the color of their choice.
The 2018-19 Royal Valley Girls Basketball team was then called to the stage to receive special recognition for their historic season. They are the first Royal Valley team to win a state basketball championship as a district. The coaches and athletes each received a hoodie. Coach Kyle Porter addressed the crowd and thanked everyone for their on-going support of the team and then the senior team members presented the coaches with gifts on behalf of the team.
To close out the presentation, the 8th-grade graduates were called to the stage and received a Nike backpack emblazoned with the Nation’s seal. Then the 12th-grade graduates were called up and each addressed the audience, sharing their next steps after graduation. Each senior received a pullover and a basket of sundry items to start them along the next chapter of their lives. In total, 34, 8th-grade students were recognized along with 30 seniors, although not all were present.
Students with perfect attendance and those making the honor roll also received recognition for their achievements. Graduating seniors displayed photo boards along with a photo montage running on the overhead projectors. Throughout the course of the evening door prizes were distributed to those in attendance.
The PBPN Student Recognition Night began in 1995, sponsored by the Title VI Committee. It has evolved over the years with several PBPN departments and committees joining in sponsoring this unique event which acknowledges the community’s children and their families and the ongoing commitment to education.
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