On Wednesday, April 2, 2014, high school seminary students from the Tucson North Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints honored eight local high school teachers with Crystal Apple Teacher Recognition Awards.
Teachers honored were: Chad Longoni and Adrienne Fluitt from Basis Oro Valley School, Ann Bonar and Grant Studer from Canyon Del Oro High School, Don Dickinson and Cassidy Elliott from Ironwood Ridge High School, and Ben Childers and Valerie Rogers from Mountain View High School.
Seminary students who attend these high schools nominated teachers by writing and submitting essays explaining how these teachers had impacted their lives. Students were selected to present the awards based on their essays, and were invited with the teachers and school administrators to a special reception held as a part of the event. Prior to the award ceremony, the students were given instructions on how to make proper introductions to the members of the Tucson North Stake Presidency. They also practiced their presentations with Mike and Janet Belnap of the La Canada Ward, cochairs of the event.
Also attending were Canyon Del Oro Principal Paul Deweerdt, Basis Oro Valley Principal Michelle Mason, Moutain View Principal Patricia Cadigan, Amphi Theater School Board Member Dr. Kent Barrabee, and Marana Governing Board Member Tom Carlson.
The evening program began with a chorus comprised of seminary students Sean Moss, Lauren Nicholls, Sara Haymore, Emma Pratt-Ferguson, Candler Whitaker, Stephen Funk, Emily Charrington, John Cherrington, and Meghan Crowther, singing America the Beautiful. Stake High Councilman Russ Pearson, an alumnus of Canyon Del Oro High School, conducted the ceremony. Quotes from Church leaders on education were prominently displayed. These quotes stressed the importance the Latter-day Saint community places on obtaining knowledge in this life and for pursuing a quality education.
The presentations were heartfelt and at times emotional. Students thanked teachers for taking the time to make sure their classes understood concepts, and for bringing enthusiasm to the classroom. They also thanked a band director who accepted the very tough assignment to take over following the death of his popular predecessor. Another teacher was thanked for the effort she expended teaching a student how to properly write an essay as a preparation for college entrance exams.
The teachers expressed appreciation for recognition of the positive impact they have had in the lives of their students. Ann Bonar commented, “What an absolutely wonderful and special evening I had last night. The reception was delicious, the decorations were lovely, and everyone was so gracious and kind. I was so touched. Thank you for organizing a beautiful event.” Don Dickinson, on behalf of all of all of the teachers, commented that the event was “exceptionally well organized and filled with love.” The evening was fulfilling to the school administrators, the educators and the students.
In his closing remarks, Stake President, Todd Polley, emphasized the importance the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints places on education and teaching. He referred to the incident in which Jesus, as a young man, taught the Jewish scholars at the Temple in Jerusalem. Jesus’s entire life was one of constant teaching to uplift and give hope to the communities he visited.
After the event ended teachers and students swarmed around each other in congratulations and appreciation. One young man was asked what he thought about the evening. He replied, “I didn’t want to come, but my mom and dad said I had to. Wow, I’m so glad I came. It was awesome.” The tie-in between family, church and school was evident from the evening’s gathering.
Some teachers noted that although they had been honored in the past by their peers or by the community, the Crystal Apple will always have a special place in their hearts because it came from their students.