Few high school honors compare to being named among the academic top 10 percent of your graduating class. On Monday night, 33 Elizabethton High school students were recognized at the school’s Top Ten Percent Banquet. Board members, administrators, teachers, families and guest speaker Dr. Josh Wandell came together to celebrate their success.
“The students who placed in the top ten percent have a diverse set of goals and dreams following high school, but the one thing they have in common is a proven ability to reach their goals through dedication and perseverance,” said Principal Josh Boatman. “We want to congratulate our honored students and proud parents, and we can’t wait to see what they accomplish during this next phase of life.”
Students include: Deanndra Bordies, Kaylee Bowers, Kondrad Brewer, Marquis Bush, Kira Dillard, Hannah Edwards, Sydney Goodsell, Malana Girffey, Hannah Grindstaff, William “Clay” Gwinn, Kaitlyn Haney, Jaid Hughes, Lakyn James, Emily Jenkins, Gabe Larkins, Alexis Luttrell, Tanner Marshall, Sarah Moore, Kennedy Morelock, Jordan Owens, Taylor Owens, Emily Peters, Jacob Peters, Maxwell Peterson, Malena Pierce, Lauren Pilkton, Mikael Christian Price, Keaton Shingleton, Molly Tipton, Abbey Townsend, Kayla Vandeventer, Adam White, and Cara White.
At the banquet, students were recognized individually for their accomplishments, service, and leadership. In addition to performing at the top of their class academically, several have been elected to leadership roles including Student Liaison to the Board of Education, Student Government Association President, Class President, Key Club President, HOSA Executive Board Member, Carter County Youth Leadership Members, and Band and Choral Section Leaders. Many are also active in athletics and have broken school records, served as team captains, and competed at the state level.
Following dinner, Dr. Josh Wandell, retired East Side principal who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease, delivered an inspiring message encouraging students never to settle for “good enough.”
“’Good enough’ will cost you hundreds of opportunities,” he said. “…Don’t settle for anything less than your best.”
Boatman explained that as a student, Wandell didn’t settle for a bachelor’s degree, but went on to get a doctorate. As an athlete, he was named to All-State and to the EHS Hall of Fame. He also didn’t stop at teaching and went on to be principal. Even when he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, he kept living his life, sharing his story with others, and inspiring people from all walks of life with his positive attitude and mental strength. “He was never satisfied with being average,” said Boatman.
He told students it’s okay to be constructively self-critical and to seek advice on how to improve from professors and mentors, though he said not to obsess about it. He also advised focusing on giving to others rather than acquiring material wealth. In closing, he challenged students to give back to their community, to be honest with themselves, and to live according to their values. He said, “Build your life around things that matter.”
“Your lifetime will be full of new milestones and great accomplishments, and I urge you to always take the time to enjoy it,” he said. “…I challenge you to make an impact that will last longer than you do.”