Photos courtesy of Trevor Barlow, Monocle Design Solutions
On Thursday, May 23, 2019, the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce (GHCCC) hosted its 45th annual Student Recognition Banquet, held in the Heritage Pines Country Clubhouse, located in Hudson, Florida.
The event, the longest-running in the Greater Hernando County area, aims to recognize and award students across Hernando County from various public and private high schools for their outstanding performance and achievements in several key categories: the arts, leadership, entrepreneurship, community service, career & technical, and academics. In order to attend, students had to be nominated by their respective high schools into one aforementioned category and be reviewed by the board members of the Chamber of Commerce.
Once accepted, they had the opportunity to apply for and the chance to win scholarships ranging from $500 to $1,500 presented by various sponsors throughout Hernando County. This year, $16,000 total was awarded to students in scholarships.
The evening began around 6 p.m. as students walked into the clubhouse and were greeted with a flowered pin, a program with each person’s name and nomination listed on it, and a nametag they would be wearing for the rest of the night. For an hour, “social time” consisted of walking around, making new acquaintances, catching up with old ones, and eating a delicious assortment of food provided by the Chamber and the sponsors of the event. At 7:00pm students and family members were ushered into the ballroom, where recognition was to take place. Slides had been set up on a projector screen showcasing each student’s name, their school, nomination category, and future career goals. Several key speakers from around the county, including GHCCC Chairman of the Board Marilyn Pearson-Adams and Honorable Judge Don Barbee, Jr., welcomed everybody, provided some insight to the event, and then commenced the ceremony.
Every student was called up on stage according to their nominated category, presented with a certificate, and photographed. Once everybody had been recognized, the awarding of the scholarships began. Out of 48 students, 23 received scholarships. The decision of who received scholarships was based largely upon an admissions essay submitted by each student, that was scored and evaluated by three separate members of the Chamber of Commerce board according to a rubric. They ranged from Silver to Presidential level, and were handed out by their respective sponsors. The night ended with a long and well-deserved round of applause for all the students there and their supportive family and friends that came with them.
Students that attended the banquet - quoted “the best of the best” – all shared similar characteristics and impressive resumes that answered any question of why they were there. They all held high grade point averages, had volunteered around the community, carried bountiful letters of recommendation from people they were well-respected and admired by, were confident in their future career endeavors, and showed a strong passion for the subject area of their chosen category. These students demonstrated the above-and-beyond excellency and well-roundedness that the Chamber of Commerce and the citizens of Hernando County were eager to acknowledge and reward. To everybody in the room that night, this event was more than just kids graduating high school – it was an investment for the future and a hope that these kids could change it.