Choices, self-discipline and hard work decide a person’s destiny in their schoolwork and their life’s work.
That was the message delivered during the 2007-08 Maryville Scholars Banquet held April 23 at the Airport Hilton. Several teachers addressed the sophomore, juniors and seniors gathered with their families for the annual affair sponsored by CBBC.
Maryville English teacher Dr. Penny Ferguson used a quote from philosopher Henry David Thoreau to describe the students honored at the banquet.
“ ‘Destiny is not a matter of chance, it’s a matter of choice.’ The accomplishments of these scholars are a result of good choices,” she said. “It’s obvious they’ve not left their destinies to chance.”
Teacher Carol Hunt reminded the students they were special. “You have people who love you, teachers who care about you and challenge you. You make choices. It takes discipline and self-sacrifice,” she said.
Barbara Stinnett, executive director of the Maryville City Schools Foundation praised the scholars who had worked hard in all facets of their high school careers. “It’s amazing what these kids do,” she said.
Stinnett said the students managed their time well and excelled in academics, athletics and extracurricular activities. “It’s incredible, when do they sleep? It’s a credit to their parents,” she said.
Roderick Blevins, Ridge Carter, Camille Crumpton, Pendell Meyers and Mattie Wong were in the running for Alexander scholarships that ranged from $25,000 and $15,000 to three $1,000 scholarships. Janice Stewart with the Maryville City Schools Foundation said the Lamar Alexander scholarship was established in 1980 as a $500 scholarship. In 1995, the Maryville City Schools Foundation took over managing the scholarship and over the years it has grown to a $10,000 scholarship.
“From 1995 to 2007 the Maryville City Schools Foundation and the Alexander family gave $60,000 in scholarships.”
In 1995, Alexander served on the board of Lockheed Martin and nominated the Maryville City Schools Foundation to receive a grant from the Lockheed Martin Foundation. These funds created the endowment which made it possible to increase the number of Alexander scholarships to five annually - a $25,000 scholarship given over four years, a $15,000 scholarship given over four years and three one-time scholarships in the amount of $1,000.
Roderick Blevins said no one was more surprised when his name was called as the winner of the 2008 Alexander scholarship than he was.
Roderick said that as the winner’s bio was read, a friend sitting across the table mouthed the words, “It’s you,” to Blevins.
“I was surprised,” he said. “I didn’t expect it. It’s a big relief. It allows more freedom with college choices.”
Dad Rody Blevins said he and his wife Mary Beth were very excited when they heard their son had won the Alexander scholarship. “We thought he would be in the running. We thought maybe Pendell would get it. It’s really going to help out.”
Rody Blevins said his son has always been an extra hard worker and always took advanced placement classes. Mary Beth Blevins said she was glad the teachers chose a quiet individual who led by example. “I was very surprised because he is so quiet. I was really happy for him. He has worked so hard.”
Mary Beth Blevins praised the Maryville High School faculty for having such high standards for their students, both inside and outside the classroom. “They inspire the students to strive for excellence in all their endeavors. It is humbling to know that Roderick is held in such high regard by such a wonderful group of educators and was chosen from such an exemplary group of finalists for the scholarship - Pendell, Ridge, Camille, and Mattie,” she said.
Ashley Porter introduced the five senior Maryville scholars who are voted on by the faculty. Each has to take high quality courses, be a dedicated student, show character and integrity and bring honor to Maryville High School, she said.
Ridge Carter won the $15,000 scholarship and Pendell Meyers, Mattie Wong and Camille Crumpton won the $1,000 scholarships. In addition, Meyers was announced as the 2007-08 valedictorian and Carter was announced the salutatorian.
Anna Shugart was proud of her son Ridge Carter. “He’s been very focused with his academics,” she said.
Ridge Carter’s dad, Michael Carter, said he and Shugart never had to push him to do his studies. “He’s got that inner drive,” Michael Carter said.’
“You see that on the soccer field,” Shugart said. “He is driven.”
Ridge said the awards the scholars got at the banquet are a byproduct of hard work. “If you work hard, you get rewarded for hard work. Hard work pays off.”
Pendell Meyers thanked those who helped him throughout his school career. “I got by with a little help from my friends, and I never stopped believing,” he said.
His dad, Pendell Meyers, Jr., said he was proud of his son, who went to elementary school in Chattanooga and moved to a private school in Georgia before coming to Maryville City Schools when his mother moved to Blount County.
“He’s never made a ‘B’ in his life. We expected a lot,” he said. “His grandmother graduated at the top of her class at GPS.”
Pendell’s mom, Jennifer Hill, said she was happy with her son’s success. “I’m so proud of him,” she said. “He’s always been a dream child.”
Mark White thanked CBBC for sponsoring the Scholar’s Banquet. The bank has sponsored the event for the past 27 years.