Columnists

5th Annual Impact Awards Celebrates Students’ Success

(Photo by Amanda Hill courtesy of Hamilton Heights High School)
The 2022 Hamilton Heights Youth Assistance Program Impact Award recipients’ front row (from left to right): Landon Brasky, Leilah Killmon, Mason Roehrich, Joseph Hook and Noah Miller. Back row (from left to right): Elam Brock, Jackson Getchell, Maggie Engle, Peyton Hansen, Samantha Perez-Martinez, and Kyrsten Harber. Not pictured: Breanna Shirey.

The Hamilton Heights Youth Assistance Program celebrated the success of 12 amazing students at its 5th annual Impact Awards Dinner at Beck’s Hybrids in Atlanta, Indiana on Tuesday. The event drew in students, their families, Hamilton Heights School Corporation personnel, and local dignitaries from the greater Hamilton County area and beyond for this special celebration of accomplishment.

The program recognizes one student per grade (grades K – 12) who successfully maneuvered through a challenge in their life. Students can be nominated by a teacher, guidance counselor, administrator, or any staff member that feels a student is deserving of the award.

“This evening is truly all about the students and their success,” agreed Mary Ann Haymaker, Hamilton Heights Youth Assistance Early Intervention Advocate, who spearheads the event. “It’s about celebrating the hard work, resilience, and effort demonstrated by these students to rise above a difficult issue that may otherwise have negatively impacted their life.”

The 2022 Hamilton Heights Youth Assistance IMPACT Award Recipients include:

  • Kindergarten: Elam Brock presented by Erin Spaulding
  • 1st Grade: Leilah Killmon presented by Amy Alt, Denise Funston, and Elizabeth Douglas
  • 2nd Grade: Noah Miller presented by Denise Funston, Chelsea Kleyla
  • 3rd Grade: Mason Roehrich presented by Marianne Collar
  • 4th Grade: Jackson Getchell presented by Denise Funston and Michelle Day
  • 5th Grade: Maggie Engle presented by Heather Greider
  • 6th Grade: Kyrsten Harber presented by AJ Robinson
  • 7th Grade: Breanna Shirey presented by Rebecca Guthrie
  • 8th Grade: Samantha Perez-Martinez presented by Kari Beery
  • 10th Grade: Peyton Hansen presented by Debbie Reeves
  • 11th Grade: Landon Brasky presented by Jane Shields
  • 12th Grade: Joseph Hook presented by Jessica Cantlon

In addition, Toby Etchison presented Joyce Sowers, a Title Instructor at Hamilton Heights Elementary School, with the 2022 Tony Etchison Memorial Award. Sowers is described as always having a smile on her face and is always willing to help. “You can tell how much she’s loved by the kids when you see them passing her in the hall,” added MaryAnn Haymaker. “Joyce is genuinely good person who does good things. She really embodies what Tony was about, being kind and making a difference just by being who she is.”

“The IMPACT awards are a time where we as educators can reflect on those students who have overcome obstacles and achieved personal triumph,” said Denise Funston, Special Education

Resource Teacher at Hamilton Heights Elementary School. “We live in a world that is not always kind and/or easy for some of our learners. IMPACT awards allow us to recognize and celebrate those who have demonstrated strength, resilience and overcome difficulties. I believe that is something to really celebrate and show them it is a big deal.”

“I have had the privilege of being part of the Impact Awards since its inception,” said Jane Shields, HHHS Spanish Teacher and Adjunct Professor, Ivy Tech Community College. “At first I got involved because I knew of Youth Assistance and the positive impact that it has on the youth throughout Hamilton County. I wanted to support the efforts of this program and Hamilton Heights’ excellent Youth Advocate, MaryAnn Haymaker.”

“Because I teach upper-level Spanish, at first I thought that I would not have the population that the Impact Awards was looking for,” she continued. “But, when MaryAnn first invited the teachers to nominate someone, I started to think differently about my students and what they might have going on in their lives outside the classroom. It is hard for teachers to know all the things that could potentially have an adverse effect on school performance. Trying to gain that insight as I sought out a nominee every year in April has helped me to have a different level of awareness of the personal needs of all my students throughout the entire school year.”

The event’s emcee, Hamilton Heights School Corporation Superintendent, Dr. Derek Arrowood, said the purpose of this event is to celebrate the accomplishments of students who have overcome significant challenges in their lives and demonstrated success. “These are no ordinary students,” said Dr. Arrowood. “The adversities these students have faced did not limit their ability to succeed inside and outside the classroom. Their examples can be a lesson to all of us that anyone can overcome challenges in their life and become an inspiration to others.”

“One of the many blessings of being an educator is the impact students have on my life to help me be the better version of me than I was yesterday,” added Funston, of the joy of participating in the annual recognition program.

The memorable evening was made possible, in part, thanks to the generous support of this year’s sponsors: Arcadia Christian Church, Ayers Real Estate, Beck’s, Big Dawg’s Smokehouse, Bolden’s Dry Cleaners, Church Church Hittle + Antrim, Cicero Pool & Spa, Delaware Glass, Doak Financial, Erika’s Place, Fred Woodruff and Winona Dings, Gatewood Vegetable Farm and Greenhouse, Gymies Fitness Center, Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, Harbourshores Church, Jackson Township Trustee’s Office, Lehman & Company, P.C., Logan Street Signs and Banners, Mid-Indiana Marine, Mr. Muffins Trains, Noblesville Elks Lodge, North Central Outdoor Power, Powers Septic and Sewer, Purce’s Heating and Cooling, Specialty Tax Service, Spring Valley Storage, The Farmers Bank, and Westbrook Village, LLC.