Church of God youths reap academic awards at banquet
By John Warren
BIG SANDY, Texas--Twelve years ago Laura Kelley, a member of the Worldwide Church of God and parent of three Big Sandy Independent School District students, convinced school officials to begin a new tradition, an academic banquet.
So Mrs. Kelley in 1992 planned and served as hostess of the Big Sandy Academic Banquet.
The annual award ceremony grew to be so popular that school officials have continued to organize the banquet even after Mrs. Kelley's children have long since graduated.
This year's banquet was May 11 at 6:30 p.m. in the building owned by the Church of God Big Sandy, where it has taken place for the past five years.
A consumer-science teacher at Big Sandy High who is also a COG Big Sandy member, Melodee Overton, planned this year's event, assisted by her sister, who is also a Big Sandy church member, Michele Mischnick.
Mrs. Mischnick had organized a small army of servers who waited on the approximately 200 students, parents, grandparents, teachers and school administrators and staffers.
Most of the servers were Church of God children and parents from several local congregations.
A second tradition
Just as the banquet has become a tradition, it seems that another tradition has emerged. Each year, the way things have worked out, many Church of God youths grab the academic-honors spotlight.
In the early years of the banquet local residents assumed the influence of nearby Ambassador University and the large number of AU employees' children who attended the local public schools were a reason so many children of Church of God members were honored.
Seven years after the closing of Ambassador, operated by the WCG, Church of God members continue to garner many of the top awards and scholarships.
Mark Fisher, a freshman at Big Sandy who attends the Church of God Big Sandy, was honored with the English Advanced Placement 1 plaque and the World Geography plaque and was also named to the A-B honor roll. His parents are David and Laurie Fisher of Pritchett.
Mark's older brother, Matt, a sophomore, was honored with the class award for Advanced Placement English 2 and Health and recognized for being on the A-B honor roll.
Another sophomore from Pritchett, Michael Case, son of Eric and Nancy Case, who attends the local United Church of God congregation, earned top honors in IPC (integrated physics and chemistry) and English 2 and won the Wildcat award, which goes to students for academic and citizenship excellence. The award gets its name from the school mascot.
Colton Francis, a sophomore from Big Sandy who attends with the Church of God Big Sandy, made the A-B honor roll. His mother, Nancy Francis, lives in Big Sandy, and his father, Danny Francis, lives in Pritchett.
A fourth sophomore, Shane Case, a cousin of Michael Case, gleaned honors for his involvement as a cast member in the school's one-act play, Breaking the Prairie Wolf Code. Mr. Case and his parents attend with the Church of God Big Sandy.
Jessica Killingley, another sophomore from Big Sandy, won several awards. Jessica, the daughter of Reginald and Carol Killingley, who attends the Church of God Big Sandy, took plaques for Spanish 2 and geometry.
A senior, Austin Smith, won an award and several college-tuition scholarships. Austin, who attends with the Church of God Big Sandy, is the son of Greg and Minnette Smith of Big Sandy.
Mrs. Overton presented Austin the award for floral design. Austin also took two scholarships for Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, where he plans to attend in the fall.
At Big Sandy High's graduation ceremony May 28, the school honored Austin as senior-class salutatorian.
© The Journal: News of the Churches of God