PINE RIDGE - Paulina Fast Wolf is a good citizen. Marcus Martin excels at extracurricular activities.
Lonnie Brewer is an outstanding athlete, and Roxanne Lone Hill is an excellent student.
For all their varied talents, these and other students were honored Monday at the Shannon County School District's 24th annual Pine Ridge Student Reservation-wide Recognition Banquet at Wolf Creek School.
More than 400 students, parents, teachers and community leaders gathered in the school's gymnasium, which was decorated for the occasion with balloons and streamers. They shared a prime-rib dinner, heard inspirational words from Pine Ridge Olympic gold medalist Billy Mills, and enjoyed entertainment by DD and the Fayrohs.
But they were really there to pay tribute to students who have worked hard to be the best they can be. Each year, eighth-grade and 12th-grade students from across the reservation are honored for their achievements in athletics, academics, extracurricular activities, and citizenship.
"It's really a nice event for them," said Terrie Jo Gibbons, who organizes the annual dinner with help from the district's federal programs/special services director, Maurice Twiss.
The reservation's four high schools and eight middle schools each nominate one student per category. A selection committee then chooses the winners, using a point system based on criteria such as test scores, essays, letters of reference and athletic-team accomplishments.
"Some years, it's really difficult," said Mark Donovan, a social worker with the school district who has been on the selection committee for several years. "Sometimes, the difficulty comes in that students don't submit all the information … We can only go by what's on that form."
All nominees receive T-shirts and certificates, and winners receive plaques and jackets.
This year's winners were:
n Outstanding Athletic Award - eighth grade, David Michaud, Pine Ridge School; 12th grade, Lonnie Brewer, Pine Ridge High School.
n Bill Cuny Citizenship Award - eighth grade, Paulina Fast Wolf, Loneman School; 12th grade, Paul Twiss, Red Cloud High School.
n Extracurricular Award - eighth grade, Naomi Edwards, Crazy Horse School; 12th grade, Marcus Martin, Crazy Horse High School.
n Outstanding Academic Award - eighth grade, Roxanne Lone Hill, Batesland School; 12th grade, Brian Hornbeck, Little Wound High School.
A new award was added this year in honor of the late Richard "Dick" Hagen, a longtime state legislator from Pine Ridge and former emcee of the annual awards banquet. Hagen died last year.
The first winner of the Outstanding Student Leadership Award was the Rockyford School Student Council, members of which are Tony Wounded Head, Mary White Eyes, Tiffany Little White Man, Andrew Twiss, Audrey White, and Jasmine Pino (White Butterfly). Their adviser, Monica Whirlwind Horse, said it was a special honor to receive the award, since Hagen had talked with her students about government and leadership.
The student council members, all sixth-, seventh- or eighth-graders, have done more than plan middle-school dances. They headed a reservation-wide "Don't Litter" campaign, helped get juice machines and doors on the bathroom stalls at Rockyford School, and sponsored a Red Ribbon Week poster contest and other events.
The award didn't come as a complete surprise, Whirlwind Horse said. "They asked them what their jacket sizes were the other day."
This year's award nominees:
Eighth-grade nominees - Vernall Marshall, American Horse School; Nikki High Hawk, Batesland School; Anthony Red Elk, Crazy Horse School; Richard Big Boy, Little Wound School; Oris Morrison Jr., Loneman School; Tyler Lunderman, Our Lady of Lourdes; Joey Carbajal, Porcupine School; Joe Richards, Red Cloud School; Kayla Twiss, Rockyford School; Kelli Ten Fingers, Wolf Creek School; Lenny Jumping Eagle, Wounded Knee District School
12th-grade nominees - Nikki Clairmont, Crazy Horse High School; Leah Bad Milk, Little Wound High School; Roger Brings Him Back, Red Cloud High School
Bill Cuny Citizenship Award
Eighth-grade nominees -Caitlin Nelson, American Horse School; Ashley Clements, Batesland School; Jessica Morrison, Crazy Horse School; Shawn Paul Smith, Jr., Little Wound School; Marlon Kelly, Our Lady of Lourdes; Devon Red Cloud, Pine Ridge School; Donald Belt, Porcupine School; Tanner O'Daniel, Red Cloud School; Mary White Eyes, Rockyford School; Rosemary Horn, Wolf Creek School; Andrea Jumping Eagle, Wounded Knee District School
12th-grade nominees - Natasha Cross, Crazy Horse High School; Sara Buckman, Little Wound High School; Donald LeBeau Jr., Pine Ridge High School
Eighth-grade nominees - Jessica Shot With Arrow, American Horse School; Jake Sasse, Batesland School; Sasha White, Little Wound School; Lavelle Warrior, Loneman School; Jesse Peters, Pine Ridge School; Jeremiah Lewis Jones, Porcupine School; Samantha Janis, Red Cloud School; Isabelle Brave Heart, Rockyford School; Ginger Anduja, Wolf Creek School; Katie Kelly, Wolf Creek School
12th-grade nominees - Latoya Mesteth, Little Wound High School; Ohitika Tasso, Pine Ridge High School; Mona Goggleye, Red Cloud High School
Outstanding Academic Award
Eighth-grade nominees - Deanna Blue Legs, American Horse School; Cassie LeDeaux, Crazy Horse School; Arielle Young Bear, Little Wound School; Wylie Thomas Janis, Loneman School; Brittany Ross, Our Lady of Lourdes; Bart Keith, Pine Ridge School; Sara Brown Bull, Porcupine School; Matthew Shoulders, Red Cloud School; Breanna White, Rockyford School; Ashley Colhoff, Wolf Creek School; Cassie Palmier, Wounded Knee District School
12th-grade nominees - Timothy Cross, Crazy Horse High School; Donnell Ecoffey, Red Cloud High School; Brittany Blue Legs, Pine Ridge High School
Members of the Pine Ridge Cross Country team also received special recognition Monday. State champions Nupa White Plume, Zuya White Plume, Patrick Grass, Alex Pine, George Richard and Alcapone White Calf were honored, along with coaches Lynn Pine and Dale Pine.
Contact Heidi Bell Gease at 394-8419 or firstname.lastname@example.org