Student Spotlights – April ’23

Student School Spotlights April 23 AOP
Every month we compile a list of students and schools doing great things across our community.  We have so many talented students in our area.  Greater Pensacola Parents joins with these families and schools to celebrate their achievements!


Career Discovery 2023 at Opelika Middle School was a big success! Approximately 400 students in the 8th grade got to see and experience the highest demand career industries in our area by visiting exhibits set up by local community members. Students saw robotic arms, Jenga building blocks, an anatomical spine model, medical manikins, a dress form, culinary supplies, live plants, and police tactical vests amongst many other things! Special thanks to Southern Union State Community College, Baxter, Cumberland Plastic Solutions, Encore Rehab, East Alabama Health, VCOM, Opelika Police Department, AU College of Human Sciences, Central Alabama Works, Go Build Alabama, Rabren General Contractors, and Bonnie Plants for spending your Friday afternoon with us and giving our students such an enriching experience. They have to see it to be it, and it takes all of us working together to help students find their passion and build tomorrow’s workforce.


The Spirit of the South’s top performing ensemble did an amazing job at the Alabama Bandmasters Association’s District 6 Music Performance Assessment.
The Wind Ensemble Received:
All superior ratings for all three of the stage judges and in sight-reading.
Judge 1-35/35-perfect score!
Judge 2-34/35
Judge 3-32/35
Sight-reading-35/35-another perfect score!
Overall 97.14%
These incredible and hard-working students have worked extremely hard and played extremely difficult literature over the past two months and are doing an outstanding job in maintaining the legacy of the OHS Band program!


Dr. Sara Ahnell, a French Teacher at Auburn High School, has been named the Southern Conference on Language Teaching (SCOLT) Teacher of the Year for Alabama! Dr. Ahnell is now a candidate for SCOLT Regional Teacher of the Year and formally recognized at the upcoming conference in Mobile. The mission of the Southern Conference on Language Teaching is the advancement of the study of modern and classical languages and their literatures and cultures at all levels of instruction. SCOLT collaborates with other organizations at the state, regional, national, and international levels to promote universal World Language education.


AHS Mass Media won four national awards at the 2023 Intercollegiate Broadcast System (IBS) Awards Program!
The awards are as follows:
– Best Sports Program | AHS Countdown | Max Mesman, Cal Floyd, Taylor Gautney, and Fabiola Sanchez
– Best Sports Play-by-Play Broadcast | Auburn High Baseball vs. Alma Bryant Doubleheader | Mattie Bingham and Evelyn Cherry
– Best Commercial/Promotion | AHS Mass Media Social Media and Website Teaser | Mattie Bingham and Evelyn Cherry
– Best High School Television Station in the Nation | Auburn High School – AHS Mass Media | Mattie Bingham, Evelyn Cherry, Rylee Watson, and Cal Floyd
ACS congratulates these students and their instructor Mr. Jared Dillard on their hard work and accomplishments!


Ogletree Elementary School held a Black History program yesterday with guest speaker Dr. Terrance Vickerstaff. Dr. Vickerstaff, family historian and the first Pebble Hill scholar-in-residence, presented on Black History in Auburn. He discussed landmarks in town, such as the Unitarian Church, originally built and founded by black citizens after emancipation, and the namesake of J.F. Drake Middle School. He reminded students that they are a part of history and responsible for moving history forward. All students sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” while the Ogletree Singers performed “Down by the Riverside” and “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize.” Students also welcomed guests and shared facts about black history. This event was planned and coordinated by OES music teacher Dr. Phil Wilson!


Students at Pick Elementary School, with the help of a genie and a magic carpet, held a dress rehearsal in the deserts of Agrabah for their production of Disney’s Aladdin KIDS in preparation for upcoming performances! Under the direction of PES Music Teacher Caleb Doster, this is the first school-wide musical in three years. Students and teachers have worked together on this magical endeavor for several months to showcase their artistic gifts and talents.


OHS had a special visit from NASA….yes….NASA! Jarrod Bales, Lori Hicks, Lance Landrum, Amber Allen, and Natalie Hintz brought enthusiasm and engagement to our students as they talked about NASA’s Launch Services Program, the benefits of STEM research, what kinds of jobs NASA has available, who can work at NASA, and high school internships. Theme of the day- if you can dream it, you can do it! NASA does hire rocket scientists, but they also need accountants, military experience, communicators, IT specialists and many other types of people working together to break barriers to achieve the seemingly impossible. Thank you, NASA, for investing in OHS students and for supporting our faculty to engage and inspire students in STEM and all other careers.


For the first time since March 2020, FACES held a reception for grant recipients and the 13 Teachers of the Year! The ten grant recipients were awarded $2,000 each from FACES to further enrich their classrooms with initiatives like 2nd graders learning to fly drones at Auburn Early Education Center and students at Wrights Mill Road Elementary building hovercrafts with leaf blowers. The Elementary Teacher of the Year, Jenna Chapman (DMS), was presented the Diane Wilson Award, and the Secondary Teacher of the Year, Emily Murray (AHS), was presented the Carol Pittard Award! The Wilson and Pittard families hold public education close to their hearts and continue the legacy of Mrs. Wilson and Mrs. Pittard through these awards and their support of FACES. FACES (Foundation for Auburn’s Continuing Enrichment in Schools) is the foundation organization partnering with Auburn City Schools to provide resources for innovative classroom opportunities for students. Founded in 1986, FACES is a group of community citizens and business partners who have joined together to support and enhance the educational program of all Auburn City Students. Alabama House District 79 Representative, Joe Lovvorn, also attended the reception to donate a Community Service Grant in the amount of $4,000 to FACES, furthering the mission of the foundation.


Naeim Mahjouri, a senior at Auburn High School, placed first overall in the State of Alabama Junior Academies of Sciences Paper Reading competition at Samford University! Naeim’s area of research was on Physical Science Earth and Space Science with a focus of structural and compositional tuning of light-matter interactions. He also placed second for the Gorgas Scholarship Program with his scientific research and an accompanying report!


Congratulations to Mr. and Miss OHS 2023-Jacob Williams and Alexandria Torbert! Congratulations also to all of the runners-up and class winners: Mr. and Miss OHS 2023 1st Runner-Up: Michael Van Horn and Maime Nicholson, Mr. and Miss OHS 2023 2nd Runner-Up: Kobe Smith and Susannah Couey, Mr. OHS 2024: Patrick Seymore, Miss OHS 2024: Anita Duncan, Miss OHS 2024 1st Runner-Up: Violett Alcorn, Miss OHS 2nd Runner-Up: Paige Bales, Miss Sophomore Class: Sara Kate Speakman, and Miss Freshman Class: Kensley Carter. Beginning with this year’s competition, Mr. and Miss OHS will be selected during their junior year and serve in the position as seniors.


Auburn High School held the 7th annual Employment Fair/Career Expo with more than 60 employers in attendance! With resumes in hand and attention to professionalism, students seeking internships or employment for this summer and fall were encouraged to attend to explore career paths and network with various businesses and organizations in Auburn. Since its inception in 2015, this event has produced many opportunities for students and initiated partnerships for AHS programs and employers in our community. The fair was coordinated by Auburn High School’s Work Based Learning teacher, Audrey Marshall, under the umbrella of Career Technical Education.


Food, Wellness, and Dietetics is a career pathway program offered to students interested in nutrition! Food, Wellness, and Dietetics is taught by Mattie Dunn at Auburn High School and has approximately 60 students enrolled in the program each semester. This program offers three courses: Food & Nutrition, Sports Nutrition, and Dietetics. Each week students participate in hands-on activities along with “Food Lab Fridays,” where they work in a kitchen group to prepare delicious and nutritious meals. Students compete in various competitions throughout the semester to showcase their knowledge of the content. Each student can earn a ServSafe Food Handlers certification while enrolled in Food and Nutrition. Students enrolled in any Food, Wellness, and Dietetics class can become affiliated members of Family, Career, & Community Leaders of America (FCCLA). Members of FCCLA highlight the importance of family and community while also sharpening their college/career readiness skills.


Congratulations to 7th Graders Hilton Jones & Aidan Chapman with boat captain Rusty Jones for a big 2nd Place finish at Lake Jordan! LSA Fishing continues to have a stellar year so far.


Fourth Graders have been hard at work in Science class. They made models of transverse waves. Using wave properties along with gummy bears, they worked together to create such cool structures and see science in action!


Silly Socks day capped an amazing Read Across America week at LSA! From fun stations like whacky writing, read & research, Seuss Snacks, creation station with truffle a tree pencils with Mrs. Moore in the Media Center to searching for hidden Dr. Seuss characters and guessing how many red fish, blue fish are in the bowl…it was a Read Across America Week & Dr. Seuss Birthday to remember!! We love when our kids are SO excited about reading!


Mrs. Beard and Mrs. Basgier took the 1st and 2nd place winners’ art from our school-wide art show to the AISA District Art Show competition at Macon-East Academy.
Congratulations to the following students for winning a 1st, 2nd or 3rd place ribbon at District! We also had 3 students win the “Best of Show” for their grade division! 1st place winners in grades K-8th will advance to the State Competition in April. Both 1st and 2nd place winners in the 9th-12th grade division will advance to State.
K-1st Grade:
Water Base: Charlotte Carter, 1st Place
Printmaking: Beau Weeks, 1st Place; Mattie Beckett Riggs, 2nd Place
Drawing (non-color): Hunter Beasley, 1st Place
Mixed Media: Piper Craig, 1st Place
Collage: Charlotte Moore, 2nd Place
Photography: Elizabeth McMurray, 1st Place (Best of Show); Brooklyn Tosti, 2nd Place
2nd-3rd Grade:
Water Base: Saylor Stewart, 2nd Place; Parker Reynolds, 3rd Place
Printmaking: Isabella Ingram, 1st Place; Lily Brady, 2nd Place
Drawing (non-color): Campbell Culpepper, 3rd Place
Drawing (color): Ella Grace Dilworth, 2nd Place
Mixed Media: Lily Brady, 1st Place
Collage: Danielle Bruce, 1st Place
Photography: Channing Graf, 1st Place; Taylor Robertson, 2nd Place
4th-5th Grade:
Water Base: Ansley Nelms, 1st Place
Printmaking: Fitz Hewitt, 1st Place; Kyle Chang, 2nd Place
Drawing (non-color): Weslynn Hovey, 1st Place
Drawing (color): Olivia Lakeman, 1st Place (Best of Show); Mary Nicole Sumners, 2nd Place
Three-Dimensional Art/Crafts: Kate Whatley, 1st Place; Lil Gardner, 3rd Place
Mixed Media: Kate Whatley, 2nd Place; Steven Alfaro, 3rd Place
Collage: Ella Williams, 2nd Place
6th-8th Grade:
Painting: Pie Clinard, 1st Place
Water Base: Pie Clinard, 1st Place (Best of Show); Eleanor Harrison, 2nd Place
Printmaking: Joshua Chang, 1st Place; Ella Sheppard, 3rd Place
Drawing (non-color): Pie Clinard, 1st Place; Eleanor Harrison, 3rd Place
Drawing (color): Pie Clinard, 1st Place
Three-Dimensional Art/Crafts: Pie Clinard, 1st Place; Sadie Terrell, 2nd Place
Mixed Media: Eleanor Harrison, 1st Place; Pie Clinard, 2nd Place
Collage: Campbell Thompson, 1st Place; Willow Grace Parrish, 2nd Place
Photography: Eron Bridges, 2nd Place
9th-12th Grade:
Painting: Aisha Roughton, 1st Place
Water Base: Aisha Roughton, 2nd Place/3rd Place
Printmaking: Aisha Roughton, 1st Place
Three-Dimensional Art/Crafts: Lauren Daugherty, 1st Place
Mixed Media: Aisha Roughton, 1st Place
Collage: Lauren Daugherty, 1st Place; Sadie Mitchum, 2nd Place
Photography: Aisha Roughton, 3rd Place


Senior Kaitlyn Stewart competed this weekend in the Alabama State Twirling Competition and earned top 5 placing in numerous events. She always represents LSA so well, and even took time with some other LSA students who were also there. Great job!


Congratulations to Jay Collins (alto saxophone) for being chosen as a Tenor II in the All-State Chorus! Jay and Mrs. Allyson Petrone spent part of their Spring Break in Birmingham rehearsing and performing with talented students and devoted directors from across the state. Great job!


Such a fun Suess week at Parkway Preschool! So many fun Suess books and characters were explored.


Thomas Aaron, a junior at Auburn High School, was selected to join the AHSAA Student Leadership Program! As a member of the program, Thomas has committed to a two-year journey to help guide the AHSAA with his input as both an athlete and scholar. ACS looks forward to seeing how Thomas’ leadership shapes the future of high school athletics for the next two years!


On February 27, 2023, at the Alabama Leaders in Educational Technology (ALET) Conference in Montgomery, AL, Opelika High School Senior Ashley Hilyer was awarded the ALET Debbie Rice Memorial Scholarship. Each spring, the Alabama Leaders in Educational Technology organization awards a $10,000 college scholarship to a high school senior. The scholarship is named for the late Debbie Rice, a long-time leader in the organization who served as the Technology Director for Auburn City Schools until 2014. As stated in the most recent ALET newsletter, “Ms. Hilyer is an accomplished student and athlete. She plans to attend the University of Alabama pursuing a major in News Media and a minor in Computer Science. Among her accomplishments and certifications, Ashley has earned 2nd place in FBLA State Intro to Information Technology Competition 2021, Cyberpatriots Windows 10 Competition 2021-22, 3rd place in FBLA State Cybersecurity Competition 2022, MS Word, PPT, and Excel Certification, Copper Cabling Certification, Testout PC Pro Certification, and Testout Security. Her athletic resume includes being a member of Opelika High School’s Varsity swim, soccer, golf, and flag football teams.


Students celebrated Read Across America week with a lot of guest readers! It was a week where students enjoyed various local heroes that joined in the fun and read lots of books during the Dr. Seuss celebration. Some heroes included Campbell’s Granpa, Hyatt’s Meme, and Quinn’s Granma all the way from Reno, Nevada! Our favorite chicken nugget maker, Gracie from Chick fil A, the famous Sophia from Auburn Gymnastics, and the bravest firefighter we know, Mr. Shane.


Emily Biaz, a junior at Auburn High School, is the 2023 Alabama Poetry Out Loud Champion! Emily recited three poems for her victory: “My dad and sardines” by Toi Derricotte, “Sheltered Garden” by H.D. and “Surprised by Joy” by William Wordsworth. She will now compete in the Poetry Out Loud finals this May in Washington D.C. The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation have partnered with the Alabama State Council on the Arts to support this program that builds students’ public speaking skills and self-confidence.


The Sixth Grade Science class at Auburn Classical Academy focuses on the world of biology throughout the school year. Pictured here are Noah Shabo, Jack O’Brien and Townes Frye constructing spider webs to better understand the energy expenditures from arachnids while building webs.


The Kindergarten class at Auburn Classical Academy loves their time outside! Pictured here are Hope Garnett, Millie Arthur, and Annabelle Allen showing off their martial arts poses.


Congratulations to the team at Auburn Day School for earning four stars through Alabama’s Quality Rating and Improvement System! To learn more about the high quality education ADS is providing, check out


What an amazing opportunity for the Celtic Tradition dancers to be able to perform on stage in Columbus, Ga. They took the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts stage as an opening number to the Riverdance show. After the show, a meet and greet moment was a highlight of the night.


Celtic Traditions Students Performed at Auburn University’s annual Dance Marathon in February.


Our 7th and 8th grade students are learning how to sketch different scenes in their art class. At Auburn Classical Academy, all students take a weekly art class. In class they learn about several art concepts and then take time to practice those concepts themselves! Pictured here is Belle Johnson beautifully sketching the face of an Australian Shepherd.


Auburn Classical Academy students and faculty had a fun time celebrating Valentine’s Day! Classes made Valentine’s boxes, ate yummy treats and played games! All enjoyed their time celebrating.


Auburn Classical Academy took time during the month of February to focus on Black History. Pictured here is the 2nd grade class. Students learned about a different person each school day and then placed these individuals into a historical timeline!


ACA’s 5th grade students have been reading the classical book “Robin Hood”. As part of wrapping the reading, the students dressed up as a character from the book. Pictured here is our 5th grade class and their impressive display of various characters!


In technology with Mrs. Jones, students from Pre-K to 5th Grade have been learning code techniques. Pre-K students used the Code-A-Pillar to learn about coding & problem solving. Kindergarten – 2nd Grade worked with Kodable to learn the very basics of coding. 3rd Grade students learn through Lightbot, all about sequencing, procedures and loops. 4th-5th Grade students used Ozobots. They have learned how to change the speed and direction of their Ozobot using color codes and have also used Blockly to program their Ozobots!


It has been an amazing Teacher Appreciation week on campus. Thanks to our PTO for celebrating all of our educators. Each day was filled with gifts, food, yummy treats, love and gratitude! This year’s theme was BLOOM! Thanks to all of our teachers for helping each student, family and coworker “grow!” Special thanks go out to the Lee-Scott Academy PTO, committee chairs Calley Brady and Whitney Owens and the fantastic volunteers who served with them all week making sure our teachers were loved. Thank you to Long Pine Hospitality, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Cookies by Kristi, Gigi’s Cupcakes, Lulu’s Bakery, and ACRE for keeping everyone well fed.


”Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Students received ashes in the shape of a cross on their forehead as they begin Lent, the preparatory time before Easter. Why ashes, and why a cross? “The ashes mean I’m a sinner; the shape of the cross means I have a savior.” -Fr. Mike Schmitz


Second graders have started a school garden, supported by GE Aviation, to learn all about plant cycles, problem solving, and slow growth. It’s fun to see the “fruit” of their labor!


Auburn Classical Academy’s Jr. Kindergarten class had ‘snow’ much fun with their winter unit. The students ice-skated, made melted snowmen, enjoyed hot cocoa, talked about arctic animals, and even had a snowball fight. Pictured here are students making snow, which reinforced what they had learned over the week!


Auburn Classical Academy’s 3rd grade class traveled to Columbus, GA to visit the Coca-Cola Space Center as they continued their science studies on astronomy. They experienced the dome theater and were able to see more clearly the constellations they’ve studied. They toured the museum to learn about many space shuttle artifacts. At the end of the day they climbed into the observatory to learn how the telescope captures images and saw many detailed pictures of galaxies, planets, and stars.


Our students and staff were spotted at Cross Catholic’s Food Packing event on February 25. Together with their families and over 130 volunteers, 40,392 vitamin-rich, shelf stable meals were packed to be sent to impoverished areas in Haiti and Guatemala.


”Here comes the Recycling Robot!” St. Michael Catholic School’s four year olds paraded around the school, finding items to recycle from other classrooms. They “upcycled” their materials to construct robots for R week!

Author: Staff

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Student Spotlights – April ’23

by Staff time to read: 29 min