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Students gather for PRAISE banquet

Students from all county high schools gathered at the Troy Country Club Thursday for the annual PRAISE Banquet — but these weren’t just any students.

The seniors who scored highest on their ACT tests of each of the counties four high schools were honored at the annual event sponsored by the Pike County Chamber of Commerce and Troy Bank & Trust.

In addition, Martin Andrew Whaley, the senior from Charles Henderson High School who scored highest overall, received a $1,000 PRAISE scholarship.

“It definitely means a lot,” Whaley said. “It makes me feel good about the accomplishments I’ve made.”

Whaley, who scored a 30 on his test, said he plans to attend Auburn University and study architecture, and with the scholarship, that plan will be met a little easier.

Other students who were honored for scoring top in their schools were Destiny Sharpe, of Goshen High School, Richard Wentland, of Pike County High School, and Phillip Quincey, of Pike Liberal Arts School.

Each of the student winners also had a chance to honor a teacher who has influenced them most throughout the years.

The teachers were: Pam Smith, of Charles Henderson High School, Shondra Whitaker, of Goshen High School, Alice Phillips, of Pike County High School, and Dolisca Steed, of Pike Liberal Arts School.

Pike County Chamber of Commerce President Jenniffer Barner said this was the 27th year the event has been held.

“We’re hoping to build a community with a healthy environment our students who graduate will want to come back to,” Barner said. “It’s important to the chamber and me personally these students are honored for this reason, and this is just one way we’re able to that at the PRAISE Banquet.”

Linda Felton-Smith, Troy City Schools superintendent and chairman of the education committee, said she is thankful this event can happen despite hard economic times in the school systems.

“When we have a downturn in the economy, you just never know what you’ll be able to do,” Felton-Smith said. “But this is good to recognize our students.”