Thursday, April 12th, 2012
By William Kincaid
Local students honored at banquet
Franklin B. Walter Scholarship Awards
  ST. HENRY - A great teacher can make a world of difference in the life of a student.
The six Mercer County students who were honored for their academic achievements on Wednesday night at the annual Franklin B. Walter All Scholastic Awards banquet spoke passionately about the one teacher who influenced them most.
"I don't know of a better honor a teacher could get," Mercer County Educational Service Center Superintendent Andy Smith said.
In return, the teachers extolled the character, integrity and dedication shown by the six students, whose future goals range from becoming a priest to pursuing the fields of chemistry, English and business.
Celina High School senior Justin Hoffman was selected to represent Mercer County at the Franklin B. Walter State Awards Banquet on April 25 in Columbus. The son of Bill and Shirley Hoffman, he honored chemistry teacher Dave Scott.
The other honorees were:
• Abigail Backs, Fort Recovery High School, who honored physics teacher Robyn Armstrong. She is the daughter of Ray and Kristen Backs.
• Haley Roehm, Parkway High School, who honored English teacher Leah Etgen. She is the daughter of Roland and Teresa Roehm.
• Mindy Hartings, Marion Local High School, who honored Spanish teacher Ashley Minnich. She is the daughter of Kevin and Sandy Hartings.
• Aaron Hess, Coldwater High School, who honored science teacher Chuck Alig. He is the son of Gary and Marjorie Hess.
• Jenna Watercutter, St. Henry High School, who honored chemistry/physics teacher Randall Hoying. She is the daughter of Steve and Mary Watercutter.
In Auglaize County, six Franklin B. Walter candidates were honored at an awards banquet April 4. They also invited a teacher who has been influential in their lives.
Selected to represent Auglaize County at the state banquet was Chris Schwartz of Wapakoneta High School. He honored teacher Adam Friemering and is the son of Brent and Laura Schwartz.
Other honorees were:
• Anthony Tenney, St. Marys High School, who honored teacher Andrea Johnson. He is the son of Curtis and Roberta Tenney.
• Neven Frazee, New Bremen High School, who honored teacher Kathy Schmitmeyer. He is the son of Stan and Connie Frazee.
• Alexandra Monnin, Minster High School, who honored teacher Pam Grew. She is the daughter of Bruce and Deb Monnin.
• Casey Hovey, New Knoxville High School, who honored teacher Stephanie Fledderjohann. She is the daughter of Gary and Tonnie Hovey.  
• Jessica Riemesch, Waynesfield-Goshen High School, who honored teacher Joe Foster. She is the daughter of Mark and Sandy Riemesch.
At the Mercer County banquet, keynote speaker Pat Niekamp, the former Fort Recovery superintendent, spoke about the quality of education in the Grand Lake area.
He said he gets frustrated when he sees the lamented global rankings of student math and science scores in America. Those poor statistics don't reflect the quality of education in Mercer County, he said.
Students today are engaged in a curriculum more rigorous and effective than ever before, Niekamp continued. The education his generation received years ago is nowhere near the kind of education kids have access to now. People of Niekamp's age had to wait until high school to take algebra or foreign language courses, he said.
Great community and parental support, an effective use of technology, dedicated teachers and curriculum changes - including a new emphasis on engineering - can be attributed to the high quality education available in Mercer County, Niekamp said.
"We're not done," he said.
Niekamp asked everyone in the crowd to consider the life-long influence their teachers had on them and challenged them to thank those educators who shaped their lives today.
"You are the ones that make it happen," Niekamp said to the teachers in the crowd.
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