Rotary Club honors standouts in grades seven to 12

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Odie Johnson III has absorbed volumes of information while attending Tupelo Public Schools.
The senior at Tupelo High School has studied for tests, completed assignments and read multiple texts. He’s also used creative methods to acquire knowledge.
“I put my study material under my pillow when I go to sleep and then I say a prayer,” said Johnson, one of 10 Tupelo students named Six-Year Rotary Scholars on Monday.
They were among 184 Tupelo Middle School and Tupelo High School students honored by the Rotary Club. Every year, the club honors the top 30 students, plus ties, in grades seven to 12. Rankings are based upon grade-point average.
Seniors who obtain the honor for all six years are given special recognition.
“I’ve been waiting six years for this,” said Lizzie Brevard. “There is a culmination project, but the real culmination is this plaque. If I could relish one memory from senior year, it would be the applause we received when they called our names as Six-Year Scholars.”
Students were recognized at a meeting for the Rotary Club of Tupelo at The Summit Center. Only grades from the current school year are used to determine the scholars, who received certificates and medals for their achievement.
The first-semester grade was averaged twice and grades from the third nine weeks were included once. The list of students is provided to the Rotary Club by counseling staffs at the two schools.
Beginning next year, grades from all three nine weeks will be averaged equally. Also, Advanced Placement classes will carry extra weight.
“The reason we celebrate academic excellence is that you are important to the future,” Tupelo Superintendent Randy Shaver told the scholars. “The reason public schools were formed was so that we can sustain our democracy for another generation.”
Shaver, a member of Rotary, called learning “one thing that you can never do as well as it can be done.”
Rotarian Lewis Whitfield, senior vice president of the CREATE Foundation, also challenged students to increase their knowledge.
“We encourage you to become the most educated you can so that you can become difference makers in the issues that we face,” Whitfield said.
Six-Year Rotary Scholar Amanda Pannell said she and her classmates have pushed one another toward success.
“Our grade is always excelling, and to stay in the top 30 is a challenge,” she said
Fellow Six-Year Scholar Jane Alice Moore said multiple sacrifices, such as putting school work before trips with friends, have been worthwhile.
“It is such an honor,” Moore said. “Not only are you a Rotary Scholar or in the top 30 in your class, but you did it for six consecutive years.”
Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or

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