UNION — Twenty high school students were honored his week for academic achievement by the Union Rotary Club.
The 16 Union County High School students and four Union Christian Day School students were guests of the Union Rotary Club on Tuesday as part of the club’s Rotary Scholars Day program.
Rotarian Robbie Littlejohn, chairman of the Rotary Scholars Day Committee, said a high school student is named a Rotary Scholar based on their grade point average. Littlejohn said the club works with the guidance departments at Union County High School and Union Christian Day School to determine which students have the highest grade average in their class. He said once this is determined the students — 16 from UCHS, four from UCDS — are then named Rotary Scholars and honored by the club for their academic performance.
This year’s Rotary Scholars are:
UCHS — Kasie Roark, Jacob Sanders, Brooke Smith, Mariana Glenn-Toland
UCDS — Lori Hart
UCHS — Anna Kelly, Payton Martin, Marissa Pettit, Cara Phillips
UCDS — Tyler Heatherly
UCHS — Maisie Fisher, Kadin Ivey, Marissa McNeace, Shreya Shah
UCDS — Casey Stepp
UCHS — Cole Heatherly, Samantha Melton, Dillon Sailors, Micaela Solis
UCDS — Carley Garner
In addition to being guests at the luncheon held in their honor, each student was presented with a certificate designating them as a Rotary Scholar. They also received a Rotary School t-shirt.
The guest speaker at Tuesday’s program was Emmanuel O’Neal DeWalt who graduated as Union High School Valedictorian in 1998.
DeWalt was a three-sport athlete, participating in football, basketball, and track and was a member of the Union High School Division 2 AAAA State Championship team in 1995. As a senior, DeWalt was named team captain, and as an Associated Press All State Tight End and All Region Defensive End, he helped lead the Yellow Jackets to the Upper State Championship in 1997. His senior season of basketball the Yellow Jackets were ranked #1 in the state, but eventually lost in the 3rd round of the playoffs and finished with a 22-5 record. DeWalt graduated as the all-time block shots leader for a game, season, and career.
DeWalt attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga on a football scholarship. He received his Bachelors of Science degree in Secondary Education with a focus on Natural Sciences and Biology. While at UTC DeWalt became the Mocs all-time sack leader from his defensive end position. As a senior DeWalt was named a team captain, won the Marco Sheppard Hustle Award, was awarded the A.C.Scrappy Moore Award for senior athletes at UTC, and presented with the Gary Stephens Service Award from the Chattanooga Area Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
DeWalt received his Master’s Degree in Divergent Learning from Columbia College.
DeWalt is in his 11th year of coaching and is completing his third year at Mid-Carolina High School where he currently serves as head coach of the varsity basketball team. The first eight years of his coaching career was spent at York Comprehensive High School where he coached defensive ends, tight ends, wide receivers, and running backs for the varsity football team. At York he was also the JV boys basketball coach and varsity boys assistant basketball coach.
DeWalt was a Rotary Youth Leadership Award student and is currently the assistant director of RYLA which is held every year at Erskine College.
In addressing the Rotary Scholars, DeDwalt told them that he’d been fortunate to have people in his life who valued his education and he encouraged them to surround themselves with good people. DeWalt said that too many times he has seen students who sacrifice their education because they are surrounded by people who don’t value it. He urged them not to let themselves be so blinded by friendship and even family loyalty to the point where they sacrifice their education and the opportunities it can give them.
DeWalt also encouraged the Rotary Scholars to have a plan, to know what they want, how to get it, and to go for it. He pointed out that a goal without a plan is simply a wish.
While they will find obstacles in their path, DeWalt urged the Rotary Scholars not to become discouraged but to instead be persistent in following their plan to achieve their goals. He said that when faced with an obstacle to push through it and continue to always strive to do their best.