Chamber of Commerce Excellence in Education Awards
The 25th annual Excellence in Education awards ceremony which is hosted by the Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce took place Monday at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre. Thirty-one students as well as 31 educators from elementary through high school and the Cape Coral Institute of Technology were recognized during that evening. A total of seven scholarships were handed out.
Keynote speaker Dr. Angela Pruitt, chief human resources officer of the Lee County School System, encouraged students attending the ceremony to be risk-takers.
“Take an elective you might not think to take, join a club you think you have nothing related to, try a sport that you never thought you’d be interested in, just take some risks,” Pruitt said.
She also assured students that it’s OK to make mistakes and that courage counts.
As for teachers and administrators, Pruitt said that they do make a huge difference in students lives’ and recognized their continued efforts.
“I just encourage you to continue to do the good things that you’re doing,” Pruitt said.
Each year, teachers and students are nominated by their school. Some of the factors taken into consideration for students include academic performance and community involvement.
“They have to be stand-outs,” said Matthew Connar, education committee member of the Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce.
During the ceremony, the elementary and middle school students received plaques while the high schoolers received checks along with plaques. In addition to students, educators were acknowledged with plaques as well.
To receive a scholarship, the high school students were tasked with writing a short essay. The best essay won a $2,000 scholarship while the other six were awarded a $1,000 scholarship.
Jamie Lee of Ida S. Baker High School was the recipient of the $2,000 scholarship. Lee graduated with a 5.28 GPA and has plans of attending the University of Florida.
“I’m definitely honored and very grateful that a committee like this would invest in my future. It definitely opens a lot of opportunities for me,” Lee said.
John Saylor who plays football for North Fort Myers High School has plans of attending Florida SouthWestern State College in the fall to study environmental science/law enforcement.
“It feels really good. I actually wasn’t really expecting it,” Saylor said. “I couldn’t have done it without my school counselor.”
Sedona Townsend has her sights set on attending Southeastern University. She plans to study kinesiology and play soccer.
“You know when you’re laughing really hard with your friends and no sounds are coming out? You’re kind of just whacking things around you? Well, it felt like that. You don’t have words to express it, but you’re feeling it,” said Townsend when asked what her reaction was after she learned that she received the scholarship.
Valarie Harring, executive editor of the Breeze Newspapers, the event’s title sponsor, commended both the students and the educators.
“Each of the 30-plus students and the 30-plus educators chosen to represent their respective school is a story in the making. Your goals, your accomplishments, the special things that you do that earned you tonight’s honor, are the foundation upon which a community paper like The Breeze is built. We applaud your efforts,” Harring said.
In addition to the Cape Coral Breeze, others sponsors include the Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce Education Committee, Storm Smart, LCEC, Nova Southeastern University, Arthur Printing, Boost Creative, Massage Envy, Cape Coral Technical College, Florida SouthWestern State College, Samaritan Health and Wellness, Black Business Solutions and Crown Trophy.