Dayton HS students highlighted at Dayton Rotary Club meeting

Kim Wood (Lead Counselor), Valedictorian Ellie Ellison, Salutatorian Jaclynn Schwander and DHS Principal Geoff McCracken attended an April luncheon for the Dayton Rotary Club where they discussed some of the achievements of the school district's top two students.

The Dayton Rotary Club members were treated to a wonderful program due to some outstanding Dayton High School students. DHS Principal Geoff McCracken and Lead Counselor Kim Wood brought this year’s class of 2022’s top honor graduates.

Valedictorian Ellie Ellison addressed the club and expressed that her faith has shown the importance of loving others through selflessness and service. She has held offices in Youth for Christ, National Honor Society, Drama Club, and BPA. This outstanding young lady has been very active student and member of the Varsity Cross Country Team, the UIL Mathematics Team, served as the Varsity Boys Soccer Manager and starred in three high school musicals.

Outside of school and through her church, she has done numerous volunteer hours, mission trips, food drives and car washes that have “offered me a friend group of quality and quantity whose impact on me is unforgettable.” Ellie contributes her success to her father along with her brother. Her father works at DHS and was last year’s Teacher of the Year for the district.

Jacob Walker (Lead Ag Teacher), Laura Lopez (sophomore), Savannah Hanson (freshman), Jake Williams (junior) and DHS Principal Geoff McCracken were guest speakers at a Dayton Rotary Club luncheon in April.

“Not everyone gets to spend their high school years with their parent, and I am certainly thankful that I was able to experience my triumphs and tragedies with him by my side. My brother was the valedictorian of last year’s class and I am extremely grateful for the time he procured into me and the path he paved for me,” she said.

Ellie will be attending Texas A&M University to study mechanical engineering.

Salutatorian Jaclynn Schwander was introduced and it struck the Rotarians the similarities between Jaclynn and Ellie. Schwander started her speech by also praising her parents. Her father, Paul, also works at Dayton High School, and her mother, Meadow Noyer, is an insurance agency for AllState.

“My Dad’s attention to detail and his fun-loving nature are rooted in me. And I owe my adventurous spirit and aptitude for hard work to my mother,” she said.

Jaclynn has been extremely active in school activities.

“While I have gained wisdom from parents’ teachings over the years, my adeptness in leadership, teamwork, and critical thinking is in part due to my involvement in extracurricular activities,” she said.

She has finished her second year as the State Vice President of Texas Business Professionals of America. She has held offices of the Science National Honor Society, Drama Club, National Honor Society, Youth for Christ and has been involved in UIL Academics (science, prose/poetry) and UIL One-Act Play along with an internship with the Michigan Aeronautical and Space Association through the University of Michigan. Jaclynn also talked about her faith and her involvement in her church. She plans to attend Rice University with a double major in English and Biological Sciences with a concentration in Biology and Genetics.

Principal McCracken then introduced Lead Ag Teacher Jacob Walker and the other three outstanding DHS students – freshman Savannah Hanson, sophomore Laura Lopez and junior Jake Williams. They presented the history of the FFA chapter, the various team competitions, annual events held and concluded with the upcoming Livestock Show.

Interestingly, the Dayton Chapter of FFA was chartered in 1938 and one of the largest student organizations. They boast 326 members and have six advisors with over 1,000 students who walk through the CTE doors every day. There are different teams that are offered at DHS. In the public-speaking area, there are 13 different teams and this past fall. For the fifth year in a row, they were the 2021 District Sweepstakes Winner and had six teams advancing to Area and one team advancing to State.

In the area of decision-making, there are 14 different teams and five teams have advanced to State. The students also talked about their upcoming show. They are expecting a great 2022 FFA Show on May 18-21. Last year’s gross sales were $308,502 and they are hoping to exceed that this year. The projected numbers were presented: 22 market steers, 20 commercial Heifers, 24 market pigs, 27 market goats, 20 market rabbits, 12 market broilers, and 10 Ag Mech projects. The FFA students invited all of the Rotarians to become members of the 100 Club and to come out and visit the show along with the auction.

Principal Geoff McCracken stated, “These are just a few of our amazing students that we have at DHS. We are very proud of all of them.”

The Dayton Rotary Club meets every Thursday at the Community Center in Dayton. The meal starts at noon with the program following. Anyone who might want to become a Rotarian is invited to join them for lunch and learn how you can get more involved in this service organization. Their motto is “Service Above Self.”

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