Always in awe of Washington state scenery, I board my flight from Oklahoma City with a hop in my step anxious for those mountain side views and the greenest of green foliage. Kelsie Nickerson, a well deserved recipient of our 2nd Citizen Athlete presentation on our inaugural Tour, is the reason why I'm here in the Evergreen state. Let's review her qualifications; Number 1 in her class out of 288 students, 4.0 GPA, recipient of the All-League Academic Award, basketball team captain, coach's award recipient, are you impressed yet? Take this into consideration; she achieved the prior awards all while completing over 500 hours of community service! I see no halt of her ambitious behavior considering Kelsie's plans to become a pre-med student at the University of Washington next year. phew! and WOW.
I travel on down to Tumwater, WA arriving at Tumwater
High School a couple hours before the event is scheduled to start. Walking through the halls, there is definitely excitement in the air and I am informed that their Senior prom is to take place the following day. Students are buzzing around campus and I'm overhearing chatter about hair styles, prom dresses, dates, and even graduation plans. I enter the main office where a receptionist directs a student to show me where the gymnasium is so I can begin set up. The student graciously accepts and we walk on down to the gym. There, I meet up with the Assistant Principal and she hands me a schedule of events for the ceremony. Apparently our award is smack in the middle of their first annual "Birdie Awards." (FYI--> The school mascot is the Thunderbirds, to clear up any confusions.) The students are rehearsing so I am able to catch a sneak peek of the "Birdie Awards." Soon enough, Colonel Kern from the Washington National Guard walks into the gym along with MaxPreps Representative Jason Hickman. We pow-wow for a bit and run through our particular ceremony's order of events so everyone is on the same page.
Soon enough, the "Birdie Awards" kick off. Our "hosts" for the awards are Paris Hilton and Justin Timberlake (brilliant senior student impersonations). The two outgoing seniors successfully take on the character traits of Paris and Justin, while introducing musical acts (more senior impersonations of the Spice Girls, Eminem, Taylor Swift and Kanye West) and acknowledging award winning school organizations such as the drama club, equestrian team, debate team, etc. Before I know it, the Assistant Principal introduces MaxPreps Rep, Jason Hickman. Jason introduces himself and talks more about the model "Citizen Athlete." He speaks of the individual who exceeds in athletics as well as in academics, all while doing something worthwhile in their community. Jason then calls up Washington National Guardsman, Colonel Kern. Colonel Kern immediately pumps up the crowd, vibing off from the students pre-ceremony excitement. Colonel Kern first calls up Kelsie. He speaks of all her work and achievements, while making a note that she has always made an effort to remain "behind the scenes" and deserves her time in the sun for all that she has done. Her peers give her a standing ovation while the Colonel hands Kelsie her new crystal engraved National Guard Citizen Athlete trophy as well as her Citizen Athlete certificate. Jason Hickman then walks over her oversized Citizen Athlete $2,500 check. We take some pictures with Colonel Kern, Jason and Kelsie as her classmates proudly cheer her on.
The assembly ends and Kelsie along with two of her friends offer to stay behind for some last minute interviews. Kelsie is just as impressive in person as she is on paper. She remains humble and continues to thank Colonel Kern and Jason for the award. I separately interview Kelsie's two best friends and they have nothing but rave reviews. They tell me of her dedication within the school community, in sports, and the list continues. I finally get to interview Kelsie, where, again, she humbly thanks MaxPreps and the National Guard, while paying tribute to her family and friends for their undying support. It was an honor myself to pay a visit to Kelsie at Tumwater High School and I have no doubt she will accomplish great things in her future.