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.