Citizens of the Year named at academic awards ceremony...

Three Vilonia High School students have been named as Citizens of the Year.

Announcing the names of Ben Payne, Hunter Otts and Rachel Pruitt, Monday night, at the Academic Awards ceremony, high school principal Matt Sewell said generally only two students are awarded the title but, this year, Payne and Otts tied.  The honor, Sewell said, is awarded to students based on academics, character and morals.

Held at 6 p.m., Monday, in the high school cafeteria many other students were recognized for accomplishments in agriculture, art, business, choir, EAST, English, Family and Consumer Science, foreign language, mathematics, medical professions, oral communication and drama, physical education, science/pre-engineering and social studies.

Members of the Vilonia Board of Education, Dr. David Stephens, district superintendent, Cathy Riggins, assistant superintendent as well as Mayor James Firestone was in the audience.

While handing out recognition for mathematics, teacher John Allison joked that the presentations to the math students are “fun” for him.  “Not every kid likes math,” Allison said. “These kids here tonight are the kids who don’t hate you.”

One student Marianna Ghazaryan, a foreign exchange student from Romania, who speaks four languages, was singled out for her accomplishments. Sewell said she placed 98th nationally and second in state for Spanish.

Choir director John McBee presented one award to his daughter Savannah for making All-State Choir. There were only two Vilonia students, he said, that earned the award. The other student, Turner Holland, is a ninth grader and he will be honored, later in the week, at an underclassman ceremony. McBee said when he began in Vilonia, six years ago, when there were only 14 students in choir. This year, he said, there are 60. Fourteen high school students, he said, made central region/all region choir this year.  

Teacher after teacher took the stage, for more than an hour, praising students. In the end, refreshments were served.