Achievement Above All

Achievement Above All

The achievement above all winners accepted their awards on December 6th, 2023. If you weren’t able to catch the ceremony, here are the winners’ speeches.

Teacher Leah Clark
Teacher Leah Clark

Good evening. President Kennedy, members of the Governing Board, Superintendent Capistran, friends, families, and Vikings. It is my honor to be here tonight. 

Someone once called me a strong-willed woman. I don’t think they meant it as a compliment, but I took it as one. I believe a strong-willed woman is steadfast in her beliefs, empowers others, and fights for what’s right. In our ever-changing world, strong-willed women must lead with courage, kindness, and confidence. I strive to be this person and serve as a role model for my students and fellow teacher leaders.

My eight years at Sunnyslope have given me many role models. Mrs. Novak shows me patience and rigor are a powerful combination in the classroom. Mrs. Sarah Levine teaches me that student engagement is central to everything we do. Mr. Jonathan Parker reminds me to trust myself and my experiences. Ms. Demetria Andrews’s confidence is contagious. Mrs. Nicole Calandra shows me how to balance being both a mom and a teacher. These and many others helped shape me into the teacher and person I have become. 

All of this would not be possible without outside help. Thank you to my mom and her husband and my in-laws for stepping in to help whenever needed. 

I would be remiss if I didn’t thank the two most important people in my life. First, thank you to my husband. Tyler supports my dreams and hair-brained ideas that often include packing up things from our house for my Student Council kids to use. Next, thank you to my son, Brooks. Nothing changes you more than becoming a parent and Brooks certainly did that. He reminds me to stop and be in the moment and that time moves way too fast.

Last, but certainly not least, I must thank my students. Without each of them, I would not be the teacher I am today. Each year, we go on an adventure together. And each year, I am changed for the better because of the students whom I have the joyful opportunity to get to know. We become a family, and they make coming to Sunnyslope High School, the place I call home, the best place to be. 

Thank you so much for this honor. I will treasure it as I continue on my journey.

Student Cooper Shillington
Student Cooper Shillington

President Kennedy, Members of the Board, Superintendent Capistran and guests, 

I am greatly honored to accept the Achievement Above All Award. For me, Sunnyslope has always been a special place because my parents work here, but being here for nearly 4 years has shown me that there is a lot more about this place that makes it special. Sunnyslope is a place full of opportunities that has allowed me to do anything I have needed to do in order to have a successful future. It is a great atmosphere with great teachers, students, and extracurriculars, and it has made it easy for me to be the best possible version of myself. Along with the opportunities have been great relationships I have made with students and teachers alike. Once again, it is a great honor to receive this award, thank you.

 

Student Group The Viking Views
Student Group The Viking Views

President Kennedy, members of the board, Superintendent Capistran and guests, good evening.

First, we want to thank you for recognizing us with this honor.

This year has been transformative for our newspaper solely because of the dedication from our editors and staff. We are immensely proud of our staff and the time and effort they put forward each day. Each person is determined to see the newspaper succeed. 

Our mission statement is “we strive to inspire the Sunnyslope community, spark conversation, and inform students”, and through our work on The Sage — our quarterly magazine — and The Viking Views — our regularly updated website –this year, we have accomplished these goals by pushing boundaries, spotlighting student success, and asking difficult questions. An amazing example of this is our most recent magazine which excelled in both visual and writing elements. We brought copies with us today to share with you.  We’ve worked to set a new standard for the Sage, and we hope to continue exceeding others’ expectations and our own.

Thank you for naming us The Achievement Above All recipients; we appreciate being celebrated by the school. Our advisor, Mr. King pointed out that it is ironic for the Viking Views to win this because what we do every day is celebrate the accomplishments of our amazing community here at Sunnyslope. The Viking Views Online and the Sage are a byproduct of the best attributes of the students and community of our school, so really we take this honor as a win for all of Sunnyslope High School. Thank you.

Staff Courtney Lawyer
Staff Courtney Lawyer

President Kennedy, Members of the Governing Board, Superintendent Capistran and guests. 

I want to begin by thanking the people I work with every day. I also want to thank the faculty and staff for electing me. I would not be here accepting this award without their help.

Last year, I received a letter from a graduating senior stating that they had noticed all I had accomplished around the campus, and they were grateful for all I had done for Sunnyslope. Receiving this letter meant a lot to me and that is why I continue to take pride in what I do for Sunnyslope.

I would like to thank Todd Blutter who taught me a lot over the last 8 years. He taught me to notice what needs to be completed from building a room to making sure the outlet screws are all facing the correct direction.

Thank you again for this award.

Volunteer Sarah Chandler
Volunteer Sarah Chandler

President Kennedy, Members of the Board, Superintendent Capistran and Guests:

My name is Sarah Chandler and I’m honored and grateful to be here.

And while I appreciate the recognition and validation for my time and efforts volunteering at Sunnyslope High School, I have a confession to make…

Volunteering for me has never been a selfless sacrifice.

I learned a secret long ago that to be “in the know” and feel a sense of purpose and belonging, I needed to get involved.

Volunteering by serving others in causes and communities that matter to me has brought me great joy and character growth lessons I didn’t even know I needed.

My youngest child, Luke just turned 18 and he will be graduating May 2024. It’s the end of an era and the wrapping up of a life season.

 

I am not sad because it’s going to soon be over, but sentimental because it’s been such an incredible chapter of life.

And while there is much I would go back and do different if I could, the one thing I would not change is my commitment to be involved and present for all four years of his high school experience.

Even though others were telling me to “let him be or I’d ruin him” and he was telling me to leave him alone as he was pulled away, I wanted to finish strong by making the most of his final formative years.

Viking Parent Club was exactly what we needed to do this.

I got to bolster my son’s high school experience from behind the scenes without being all up in his business.

I am grateful for all the events, fundraisers, meetings, calls, emails, and endless group texts.

Not only did VPC allow me to share in the school experiences that my son was having, it also gave us something to talk about (improving my connection with him!) And VPC also gave me the opportunity to connect with other like-minded devoted parents.

We all know it’s not easy to make friends as an adult, so volunteering really has been a bit selfish for me as it’s given me the opportunity to make lasting friendships. After some of the shenanigans we’ve pulled off, I know I will be friends for life with some of the other parents.

On top of all the rich benefits I have received by volunteering, I must also confess it’s been ridiculously easy as our Sunnyslope community is robust and the finest of its kind!

Sunnyslope’s school spirit, enthusiasm and energy is a strong current and all I really had to do was jump in to be carried to this place of sweet satisfaction. Thank you!

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