CCHS seniors hailed by Culver Lions

Culver's Lions Club hosted students and family members last Wednesday at the Culver Comm. High School cafeteria for the Club's annual recognition banquet, during which 11 outstanding CCHS seniors were lauded.

After a an invocation prayer by Lion Larry Welch, Lions president Don Freese welcomed attendees and introduced the school's vocal choir, Jazz Street, which performed several numbers under the direction of Diane Derrow.

Kicking off the recognition portion of the event was CCHS student council president Mitch Maes, who discussed the wide assortment of dances and other activities the council sponsored during the past year, including a Pennies for Patients drive, which raised nearly $2,000 for the Riley Children's Hospital in Indianapolis.

Senior class president Elizabeth Rainey also discussed a number of class events and memorable moments, such as watching one of their own, Matt Hurford, win the wrestling state championship in Indianapolis.

"Our class has gone through so much together over the past year," she said.

Freese then introduced CCHS guidance counselor Brenda Sheldon, who praised Freese's assistance on "many, many service projects" involving students. She described the honored students as "a real strength to our school," noting the various academic departments decide who will be the award recipients, as do members and leaders of the school's various clubs and organizations.

First up was John Ahlenius, son of Mr. and Mrs. John Ahlenius, whom Sheldon said was one of the co-presidents of the school's CAVS (Culver Alliance for Volunteer Service) Club as well as an active leader in CYCO, the Culver Youth Community Organization combining students from CCHS and Culver Academies. Ahlenius received the Service award, Art Club President's award, and CAVS Club Co-president's award.

Ahlenius praised Sheldon as "a great mentor" who "helped me throughout." He will major in agri-business at Purdue University this fall.

Alexandria Baker, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Gene Baker, received the Business award. She will attend Indiana-Purdue University in Fort Wayne this fall to major in hospitality management.

Allen Betts, son of Destani Tillman, received the English, Math, and Science Department awards (respectively), as well as the CAVS Club President's award. Betts noted he "put a lot of hard work and time" into his community service, academics, and athletics, adding "it was worth it." He will wrestle for Wabash College in the fall and major in pre-med, he said.

Micah Budzinski, son of Mr. and Mrs. Victor Budzinski, received one of an unusual two Math department awards, as well as the Social Studies award. Budzinski noted math instructor Mike Buschman told Budzinski and fellow Math winner Allen Betts that he didn't want to name two winners, but "he couldn't decide" between the two students. Budzinski will play football at Purdue University this fall and study civil engineering.

Receiving the Band award and recognition as the Business Professionals of America president was Michelle Elam, daughter of Katherine Elam and the late Donald Judd. Elam, who also thanked Sheldon as well as her mother and grandmother for their support, explained she'll study nursing at Ball State this fall.

Returning to the podium -- and lauded for his speaking earlier in the event by Sheldon -- was student council president Mitch Maes, son of Mr. and Mrs. Mark Maes, who plans to study computer science and business at IPFW.

The daughter of Mrs. Cindy Gibson, Angel Okray was recognized as Science Club president, and will major in biology at the University of Indianapolis this fall.

Elizabeth Rainey, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Rainey, was also praised for her earlier speaking, and was recognized as senior class president and recipient of the Art award. She will attend Indiana University in Bloomington to study at the School of Infomatics and Computing towards a computer science major.

Recognized with the Vocational award was Josh Walters, so of Tracy Thomas and R.B. Walters, though Sheldon added the senior has been "involved in a lot of projects." Walters will pursue a career in the Marine Corps.

Dana Wireman, daughter of Ms. Patty Ruhnow, was the recipient of the Journalism award as well as the Choir award, evidence for which Sheldon noted the audience heard earlier, during Jazz Street's performance. Among those she thanked, Wireman expressed appreciation to the Lions for the club's aid in her attending various choir events, as well as for the support of student newspaper The Caval Crier faculty sponsor Vickie Benner.

"Thanks to her," said Wireman, who will study journalism at IPFW, "I'm in love with journalism."

Freese introduced the final facet of the event, the awarding of a $1,000 scholarship from the Lions Club to a faculty-chosen, deserving student. Freese, a frequent substitute teacher in the school, said all the students at the event "have been a pleasure to have in the class...they're a little bit more mature and (they) offer a steadiness to the class which I very much appreciate."

Noting, however, that there "can be only one recipient" of the scholarship, Freese announced John Ahlenius' name.

"I'm overwhelmed," said Ahlenius, receiving the scholarship. "Every time I've collaborated with the Lions Club, I've always enjoyed working with you. I genuinely, truly love to spend time with you."