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April 2011

AYCA Banquet

   More than 100 students were recognized for their exemplary character at the Eleventh Annual American Youth Character Awards Banquet held this evening at the World Golf Village Convention Center.  
Honorees included three percent of the junior class and one percent of the senior class from each high school who were identified as students of character. Twenty-five seniors were recognized, along with seventy juniors including eleven from Bartram Trail High School, twelve from Creekside High School, two from Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, ten from Pedro Menendez High School, ten from Nease High School, eleven from Ponte Vedra High School, eleven from St. Augustine High School, two from St. Johns Technical High School and two from St. Joseph Academy.
Students also invited their parents and a mentor who has served as a character role model for them.
Criteria for the AYCA awards are based on the Six Pillars of Character: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship. These awards recognize students for serving as good role models for their generation. Nominees were evaluated on the basis of the influence of the Six Pillars in their lives, especially as they relate to overcoming obstacles, making difficult choices, generosity and self-sacrifice, and community service.    All honorees received certificates and school letters. In addition, each senior received a $400 award in recognition of their exemplary character.
Eight other seniors were honored as Pursuing Victory with Honor nominees for displaying the Six Pillars of Character on the athletic field. The overall winner received a $400 check and the other school finalists each received $200.
The 25 senior award recipients were Aubrey Asplen, John “Mac” Culkeen, Jonathan Daguilh and Cassidy Langford of Bartram Trail High School; Khalia Hurst, Savanna Robinson and Jacob Sambursky of Creekside High School; Kaitlin Harris and Amber Savard of Florida School for the Deaf and Blind; Cole Piagno, Maysa Saadeh and Tony Steward of Pedro Menendez High School; Brad Bennett, Virginia Beverley, Brandon DeAguero and Conner Holland of Nease High School; Al Harding, Clay Mazza and Daria Smith of Ponte Vedra High School; Ryan Cullum, Byron Jones, William Masters and Tarek Odom of St. Augustine High School; Kristopher Strickland of St. Johns Technical High School; and Henning Ander of St. Joseph Academy.
St. Johns River Community College also recognized a student for her outstanding character. Josephine Brown was selected as this year’s recipient, and she also received $400.
The junior nominees were as follows:
Bartram Trail High School – Jason Agatep, Abbie Dorwart, David Frick, Casey Hough, Alexis Kapelka, Taylor Knowles, Erin McDonald, Sydney Pilinko, Christopher Popiel, Trent Register and Tyler Worthington
Creekside High School – Rachel Buff, Douglas Calderone, Alyson Giambalvo, Dylan Klee, Danielle Krusemark, Alexander Maillis, Kelsey Matthews, Lauren McCarthy, Virginia Pedigo, Ariella Phillips, Monica Resto and Alexandria Turnage
Florida School for the Deaf and Blind – Heath Humphrey and Jeffry Pena-Guzman
Pedro Menendez High School –  Rachel Abbuhl, Mikayla Hamilton, Kyndall Hodges, William “Billy” Irving, Tori Johnson, Brittany Lassiter, Milan Patel, Aaron Rake, Rebeca Siguenza and Wyatt Wilson
Nease High School – Elizabeth Capiro, Robert Fatovic, Nicole Gilovoy, Daniel Gomez, Shannon Grant, Kathryn Hill, Marian Li, Lindsey Mitchell, E. Sabastian Rivas and Garrison Wetmore
Ponte Vedra High School –  Joey Carzoli, Peter Eivaz, Harrison Goodall, Kate Hurlburt, Jack McSwain, Megan Nicholson, Katelyn Norton, Joseph Paul, Rachel Pewitt, Dana Ratcliffe and Daniel Wise
St. Augustine High School – Quannisha Allen, Dionne Blount, Slater Canan, Kyle Cubbedge, Phoebe Fleming, Olivia Hodapp, Olivia Hutcherson, Andrew Li, Christopher Pritchard, Briann Walton and Phillip Worthington
St. Johns Technical High School – Jesse Skeen
St. Joseph Academy – Alex Carames and Michael Ryan
Six years ago the law firm of Upchurch, Bailey and Upchurch, P.A. established the David Macaulay Mathis Memorial Victory with Honor Award to recognize a varsity athlete who exhibits the Six Pillars of Character. David Mathis was a 1999 International Baccalaureate graduate of Nease High School who was active in the Naval ROTC program and was a member of the varsity basketball team.
This year’s Pursuing Victory with Honor Award winner was Libby Crowe of Bartram Trail High School. The other school finalists were Jimmy Clark of Creekside High School, Marshall Zackery of Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, Gabriella Samuels of Pedro Menendez High School, Brianna MacNaught of Nease High School, Ali Fehling of Ponte Vedra High School, Britta Messler of St. Augustine High School and Katie Burchfield of St. Joseph Academy.
Major sponsors for this year’s banquet were The Bailey Group, Northrop Grumman, Prosperity Bank and Upchurch, Bailey and Upchurch. Other major contributors were Allen Family Businesses (The Feed Store and Water Works), Cady and Cady Studios, Character Counts! of St. Johns County, Chick-Fil-A, St. Augustine Sunrise Rotary and United Way of St. Johns County. Many other businesses, civic organizations and individuals also contributed to this event.

STAR Banquet


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Triplett-Godfrey   4272011_33859_3.jpgBuchanan-Cullu    Seventy-one of St. Johns County Schools’ best and brightest were honored at the Sixteenth Annual STAR (Students Taking Academic Responsibility) Awards Banquet held Monday at World Golf Village.

The STAR Awards recognize the top three percent of all graduating seniors in the county. Eleven students from Bartram Trail High School, one from Beacon of Hope Christian School, nine from Creekside High School, ten from Pedro Menendez High School (PMHS), eleven from Nease High School, nine from Ponte Vedra High School (PVHS), sixteen from St. Augustine High School (SAHS), and four from St. Joseph Academy received commendation for their outstanding academic performance.
During the recognition ceremony principals introduced each student and then a special teacher selected by the student. The STAR students shared their future plans and why they selected the teacher they chose to honor. In addition to making top grades, these students are involved in athletics, performing groups, school clubs and community service.   
Several teachers were selected by more than one student, including, Glenn Cole of Switzerland Point Middle School, Gail Cullum of SAHS and Martin Hillier of PVHS. Cindy Morrison, a language arts teacher at PMHS, has been selected every year but one since the first STAR event was held.
The STAR students selected by each school are as follows:
Bartram Trail High School – Amanda Alexander, Lindsey Baroch, Hayley Cooper, Lesleigh Craddock, Elizabeth Crowe, Ashton Dumdei, Cassidy Langford, James Mancino, Katherine Modaff, Emily Shuman and Taylor Smith
Beacon of Hope Christian School – Taylor Renee Mihalich
Creekside High School – Paymon Abtahi, Julianna Betbeze, Megan Bookstaver, Kathryn Brewer, Nicolas Lara, Marshall Malone, Sabine Mosal, Kimberly Triplett and Nikki Weiss
Pedro Menendez High School – Emily Bauer, Courtney Calderon, Elysa Campelo, Lauren Croft, Taylor Duren, Christopher Hankins, Troy Jordana, Monica Misiak, Gabriella Samuels and Erik Spilling
Nease High School – Brian Bell, Emma Domingoes, Nikki Etchenique, Eliona Jankulla, Courtney Ligon, Jessica MacWilkinson, Katherine McLeod, Karah Mechlowitz, Alex Mosher, Meredith Robinson and Bradley Roche
Ponte Vedra High School – Caitlin Eastland, Ryan Gammon, Lydia Lichlyter, Douglas Meadow, Patrick O’Hara, Michael Power, William Russell, Allison Santillo and Daria Smith
St. Augustine High School – Beatriz Alamo, Paul Baran, Janna Bond, Erin Brownett, Amy Buchanan, Daniel Canova, Sophie Clingan-Darack, Emily Dupree, Stephanie Fitzsimmons, Hunter Green, Samantha Gresham, Shannon Healey, Ashley Lane, Alexandra Leslie, Pratik Patel and Brandi Radaker
St. Joseph Academy – Wesley Davis, Janelle de la Torre, Katherine Foley and Emily Kelbert
Kirk Wendland, President of the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce, served as emcee. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Joseph Joyner and School Board Members were also in attendance.
The annual event was sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce in partnership with Cady & Cady Studios, Kuhn Florist, the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum, the St. Johns County Education Foundation, the St. Augustine Sunrise Rotary Club and VIP Presentation Products.

New Executive Director for Human Resources

Brennan W. Asplen, Principal of Bartram Trail High School (BTHS), has been selected by Superintendent Joseph Joyner to be the new Executive Director for Human Resources. His nomination will be presented to the School Board, and he will assume his new position on July 1.
Mr. Asplen will succeed Jim Springfield, who is retiring June 30 after 22 years in the district.
Mr. Asplen has 23 years of experience in education and has served as a teacher, coach and administrator. He has been Principal at BTHS for the past five years.
“I have watched Brennan over the past five years and have tremendous respect for his leadership and integrity,” said the Superintendent.  “He is a perfect match for this critical role in Human Resources, and I look forward to his joining the district office team.”
“Jim Springfield has been an incredible leader and will be sorely missed,” Dr. Joyner added. “However, I am confident that Brennan will continue to make an excellent department even better.”
During his tenure at BTHS, the school maintained a grade of “A” and also won six state championships in sports. They are one of only three high schools to earn the Five Star Award for community involvement since 2008. They have also continuously won the Golden School award for their parent volunteer program and the Silver School award for student volunteerism.
Mr. Asplen is grateful for the experience he has had leading BTHS, working with students and dedicated parent volunteers and business partners, all part of the “Bear family.”
“The results of our students’ work has been outstanding, exceeding expectations inside and outside of the classroom,” he said. “In addition to promoting gains in testing scores and increased participation in college level coursework, it has been an honor watching our students as servant leaders fulfilling needs in the community.”
Mr. Asplen holds a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from the University of Central Florida and a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University. He is currently serving as President of the Florida Association of Secondary School Principals.