Cassandra Mayers is one of the three Valedictorians of the 2022 class. She is a standout athlete on the track team, a cheerleader, and a distinguished young woman. (Telegram Photo by Red Thompson, Jr.)
Cassandra Mayers is one of the three Valedictorians of the 2022 class. She is a standout athlete on the track team, a cheerleader, and a distinguished young woman. (Telegram Photo by Red Thompson, Jr.)

(Editor’s Note: This is the first of a two-part story about the Vinton County Board of Education honoring the students, staff, and group for their achievements. Today, the individual award winners…)

The Vinton County Board of Education recognized several individuals, groups, and organizations when it met Tuesday night, April 26. The meeting was held at the Vinton County Middle School.

The individuals announced were students and staff members who excelled and brought pride and joy to the school district. The groups recognized were making a collective effort to display the talent and creativity of the students. Superintendent Rick Brooks noted this was a historic meeting designed to showcase the positive activities taking place in the Vinton County Local Schools.

At the top of the agenda was the “top of the class” in Valedictorians Cassandra Mayers, Kerrigan Ward, and Cameron Zinn, and Salutatorian Brenna Stevens.

Three Valedictorians who spoke to The Telegram are scholars and accomplished athletes. Zinn was a standout in volleyball and basketball and was on the 2020-2021 State Runner-Up Basketball Team. She was a 1,000-point scorer in basketball and was the sets leader in volleyball. Zinn is heading to Wheeling University to continue her volleyball career and major in Nursing.

Zinn told The Telegram, "I want to thank the administration, coaches, and teachers. I could not have done it without them.” She was also pleased about the state tournament run and the high success of the volleyball team.

Ward excelled on the volleyball team as both a defensive specialist and quality server. She is also a power hitter and pitcher on the softball team as well as a defensive specialist and a digs leader on the volleyball team. She plans to attend the University of Cincinnati and major in Neo-Psychology. 

Ward spoke about the volleyball experience to The Telegram. "I think the chemistry allowed us to have the success that we did," said Ward. “We pushed each other and were always there for each other."

Mayers did not attend the meeting, but The Telegram will publish her comments in a future edition.

Two other students were recognized for their spelling abilities as West Elementary School student Aubree Thompson was honored for winning the District Spelling Bee, while Central Elementary School student Nicholas Waldron was honored for finishing in the runner-up slot.

Three teachers were also recognized for their accomplishments. High school teacher Amanda Olsen was honored for having 100 percent of her students earn a 3 or higher on the 2021 end-of-year biology exam. The scale ranges from 1-5 with 3 or above being proficient. Vinton County Middle School teacher Brett Jones was recognized for his coaching abilities. The Lady Vikings Varsity Coach will be coaching the Ohio Team in the Battle Against Cystic Fibrosis All-Star Basketball Classic. Another award went to West Elementary teacher Lorrie Hammond who has been recognized for her teaching excellence by the Coalition of Rural and Appalachian Schools.

As the session rounded up, Board President Cindy Strausbaugh stated there is a lot of talent in the schools and this is a good way to showcase it.

The Vinton County Board of Education was set to meet again on Tuesday, May 17 at 6:30 p.m.

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(Part II: The Board honored several groups and organizations, and their stories and accomplishments will be showcased.)