The Conway Board of Education recognized the achievements of several individuals within the district during its regular meeting Tuesday.
The meeting started off with the acknowledgement of two Conway High School students Kate Freyaldenhoven and Gail Oudekerk.
CHS Principal Buck Bing addressed the room. He said academics are the main reason that “we go to school,” and while the Conway School District has a lot of other programs and activities, academics is the first priority.
“Kate is one of many of our students that excels,” Bing said.
Freyaldenhoven said she’s always been fond of going to school but hasn’t always been eager to learn. That desire, she said, came around fourth grade.
Her teacher’s enthusiasm for learning, she said, sparked that and Freyaldenhoven became intrigued in the idea of learning something new, which in turn, impacted the way she viewed school.
That’s where she said her choice to prioritize academics came from.
“It’s definitely not easy to obtain good grades and to manage it all but with enough effort and a lot of dedication you can make it work and it’s really helped me grow in other areas of my life as well,” Freyaldenhoven said.
Superintendent Greg Murry announced to the room that the student had recently taken the ACT and asked her what her results were; she replied, 36, which is a perfect score.
Next, Bing introduced Oudekerk.
Oudekerk said in the last couple of months since she’s been filling out college applications, the process has forced her to reflect on her journey up to where she is now and where she’s going as well as what she’s grateful for.
She said she’s grateful for the support of her friends, the teachers that have encouraged her love of learning and reading from the very first day and her parents who have been proud of the scores she’s made along the way but more importantly, her kindness.
“They were so much more proud of me when my teachers said, ‘Oh, Gail helped this student, she was kind,’ than, ‘Gail got a perfect score on this test,’” Oudekerk said.
While she doesn’t know where she’s going next — she’s filling out several college applications and considering maybe a gap year — she said one thing that she’s “holding onto,” as she makes the transition is that notion that who she is, who she is to others and the things she does for others is more important than any score.
Murry also pointed out to the room that Oudekerk not only scored a 36 perfect ACT score but also a 1600 on the SAT, also a perfect score.
“What we have here ladies and gentlemen is someone who on the two major test you take in order to get into college, scored a perfect 36 and a perfect 1600 on her SATs and that is as far as we can tell, the first time that’s happened in our district,” he said.
Murry said both of the girls epresent what is “phenomenally best about our school district.”
“This superintendent is very proud of you both,” he said.
After the duo’s recognition, the board also paid homage to the district’s 2019 Teachers of the Year, with each principal coming up to the podium to share a bit about the teacher and at the end, honoring each with a red apple award to take with them.
The list of 2019 Teachers of the Year include: Paris Broyles from Sallie Cone Elementary; LeAnna Floyd from Ida Burns Elementary; Stephanie Berkemeyer from Woodrow Cummins Elementary; Anna Schichtl from Theodore Jones Elementary; Keisha McDaniel from Carolyn Lewis Elementary; Marion Bailey from Florence Mattison Elementary; Bryan Cole from Julia Lee Moore Elementary; Kori Sisson from Ellen Smith Elementary; Stephanie Lovelady from Jim Stone Elementary; Monica Garcia from Marguerite Vann Elementary; Elise Hampton from Bob and Betty Courtway Middle School; Natalie Lea from Ruth Doyle Middle School; Amy Ellenburg from Ray and Phyllis Simon Middle School; Che Masters from Carl Stuart Middle School; Jennifer Barnett from Conway Junior High School; and A.J. Spiridigliozzi from Conway High School.