Eight Wise County high school seniors shared $20,000 in college scholarships Thursday during the first Character Counts Scholarship program at Weatherford College Wise County.
The event, sponsored by Stephens Bastian and Cartwright Insurance of Decatur, drew several hundred to the college campus to honor the students who had been nominated by teachers and administrators for their character, honesty and leadership.
Chico Mayor J. D. Clark, himself an educator, was the keynote speaker.
“If we are to truly make this a better place, we must put good character into action,” Clark told the crowd.
“When we devalue character, we devalue what America should mean to the rest of the world,” Clark said. “As a society, we must show that character counts and in Wise County, something special is happening here tonight. We need to tell everyone what we value in Wise County.”
Students were introduced and presented $2,500 scholarship checks by Brian Stephens, who originated the idea for the character-based scholarships. Stephens said next year WC Challenger Charities, sponsors of the J.W. Hart Professional Bull Riding Event, would become a partner in the event to help raise funds for the scholarships.
Andrew Rottner of WC Challenger Charities said his group was delighted to be a part of the character scholarship program. Since its inception, WC Challenger Charities has given more than a half-million dollars to local charities including the Wise County United Way and other groups – including helping build homes for wounded veterans.
Students honored included:
LAUREN HART, ALVORD
Lauren is involved in numerous extracurricular activities including athletics, student council, Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and Family, Career and Community Leaders of America. A teacher said she is a leader of the school. “I notice on a daily basis how Lauren cares for her fellow classmates – which in today’s society, isn’t very common.”
KAYLA BOAZ, BOYD
Kayla is active in the Boyd band and served as percussion captain this year. She’s also involved in yearbook, National Honor Society (NHS) and is a class officer. She plans to attend Oklahoma Baptist University and pursue a career as a Christian counselor.
DERRICK STANFORD, BRIDGEPORT
Derrick, a leader on the basketball court, FCA, student council and other areas, ranks 44th out of his 132-member class and is always willing to help out wherever there’s a need.
MISTEN KITTRELL, CHICO
Misten has been involved in NHS, yearbook, Student council, 1-act play, athletics and cheerleading while also doing volunteer work in the community. She plans to attend Oklahoma Baptist University and major in pre-med, with the goal of becoming a surgeon.
BILLY CARR, DECATUR
Billy is on the Eagle football team, is a PAL and works as a student aide for Special Programs. He also spends a lot of time volunteering with Sonflower Camp, Special Needs Baseball and the Wise County Olympathon. He plans to become a special education teacher.
RACHEL SMITH, NORTHWEST
Rachel has been involved with NHS, FFA, Visual Asrts Scholastic Event and the Big Event – Northwest’s day of giving back to the community. She is also a third-degree black belt and teaches Tae Kwon Do to students from age 5 to adulthood.
KATY SKOGBERG, PARADISE
Katy has touched many lives during her three years at Paradise High School, excelling in one-act play and qualifying for state in UIL writing events. She will travel to Pretoria, South Africa for a one-year college and missions program before returning to pursue a degree in occupational therapy.
ISAAC DAVIS, SLIDELL
Isaac is an All-State basketball player and a member of the one-act play cast, even filling in for the director. He’s also been successful in UIL writing. He plans to pursue a college degree and possibly coach.