BY BRAD SAM
MCKENZIE MIDDLE SCHOOL BETA CLUB
Mansfield is First ‘Melinda Garrett Leader of the Year’
McKENZIE (April 11) — The McKenzie Middle School Beta Club held its annual banquet Tuesday, sponsored by the Rotary Club. The event also marked the emotional inception of the Melinda Garrett Leader of the Year Award, named for a 2001 McKenzie graduate who died of a sudden illness in 2006 at age 23.
Following a meal in the cafeteria, Rotary President and McKenzie Director of Schools Lynn Watkins welcomed all to the gymnasium.
Then, Beta sponsor Beth Mathis introduced the guest speaker, Lindsay (Beal) Caraccio. Both were 2001 graduates and close friends of Garrett.
Mathis began by noting how hard it had been to write a short introduction for someone she has known and admired since elementary school. She pointed out that Caraccio had shined at MHS, graduating in the top five of the class.
Caraccio completed the prerequisites for pharmacy school at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in just two years and graduated cum laude with a Doctor of Pharmacy from Samford University McWhorter School of Pharmacy in 2007. She has since furthered her education with special training for sterile compounding of injectable drugs.
Mathis then pointed to the Beta motto: Let us lead by serving others. “Lindsay lives to help and serve others,” she said, listing her many humanitarian contributions, which include numerous trips to third-world countries.
She concluded, “Lindsay balances her career, her passion to help others, all while being a wife to Mike and an amazing mom to two-and-a-half year old Jack. Lindsay is the true definition of service above self.”
The emotional weight of the night set in as Caraccio began her remarks. “I’m honored to be here tonight…” she managed before choking up momentarily, “…to present an award that is very dear to my heart.”
She spoke about the qualities and characteristics that she believes makes a great leader, asking the Beta members to answer for themselves three questions.
First, she asked, “What talents and abilities have you been given, traits that are unique only to you?” She said that these “quirks” may be seen by others as “weird,” but she offered, “You truly are fearfully and wonderfully made. There were no mistakes in how you were designed.” She stated that each student had been given three things: special abilities that no one else has, a circle of friends and a set of certain experiences.
She continued, “I’m giving you permission to be kind to yourself. We’re so hard on ourselves. ‘I’m not pretty enough. I’m not smart enough. I’m not good enough…’ But I’m telling you that you are. You are enough. Period. Exactly as you are.”
She pointed out that leaders and successful people know themselves, their strengths and weaknesses.
Her second question for the Beta members was, “What are you passionate about? What excites, angers, saddens you?” She implored them to “not just make a living in life, but make a difference in life.”
She said that combining their individual traits with their passions to find their purpose would make the students “unstoppable, a force to be reckoned with.”
Her final question was, “What are you afraid of?” She said that it’s no secret that leaders are courageous. “It’s the trait we admire most.”
“But,” she stated, “It’s not that leaders don’t experience fear. They do. We all do. But great leaders don’t let fear determine their fates.”
She told the young people before her, “At the end of life, you won’t regret the things you did do, you’ll regret the things you did not do.”
She said that a great leader is one who has the courage to carve their own path, one for others to follow. “This person,” she said, “armed with their unique traits, who has passion burning inside their hearts, can blaze a trail like no other and can actually change the world.”
She continued by saying that Melinda was everything we admire in a leader. “Smart, driven, beautiful inside and out. She was so incredible funny and so kind to people. She loved Jesus and cared for others.”
Caraccio said that Melinda’s passion was helping others, and that her strengths played well into that. She said that she was courageous, facing obstacles head-on.
She shared an anecdote, that Melinda had once noted that only 2.1 percent of female pharmacists owned their own pharmacy, even though they make up over half of the overall pharmacy workforce.
Melinda called that “a shame” and was determined to change it. “If she were alive today, I have no doubt that she would’ve done just that,” Caraccio offered. “She carved her own path so other women could follow.”
She concluded by saying, “I don’t personally know the recipient of tonight’s leadership award, but I’ve been told she has many of the same leadership characteristics as the woman for whom this award is named. So, it is with great honor that I announce the winner of the first Melinda Garrett Leader of the Year Award: Lauren Mansfield.”
Beta members were then recognized as achieving either Merit Roll (All A’s and B’s, 92 GPA) or Honor Roll (All A’s), participating in the state Beta competition and placing in the school’s science fair, spelling bee and Patriot’s Pen contest.
Finally, the top ten students in each grade were announced (in alphabetical order).
Principal Dorethea Royle gave closing remarks, thanking Rotary, Beta sponsors and parents. She also thanked Caraccio, reiterating to the students the speaker’s message, “You are enough.”
Eighth Grade — Lilly Bennett, Brandon Boaz, Allie Chappell, Maggie Glass, Kennedy Green, Will Latimer, Lauren Mansfield, Annabelle Medford, Johnathan Moore, A.J. Murphy, Nathan Nanney, Nicholas Smiley, Lyndsey Summers, Eli Surber and Lydia Warren.
Seventh Grade — Shannan Cheney, Sadie O’Brien, Duane
Patrick and Hadley Woodruff.
Sixth Grade — Briley Auvenshine, Kristin Bradberry, Jackson Cassidy, Andrew Harvey, Payton Ognibene, Nathan Price, Nolan Renfro and Maggie Walker.
Fifth Grade — Drew Chappell, Chandler Conrad, Savannah Davis, Libby Hawkins, Kay Klonowski, Parker Lyons, Allie Mansfield, Macey Mayo, Belle O’Brien, Stafford Roditis, Ava Warman and Abbie Young.
Eighth Grade — Emilie Brewer, Ashleigh Britt, Macy Brown, Anna Callahan, Presley Chadwick, Bailee Christman, Claire Cottrill, Jaden Currie, Ashlyn Drewry, Tyler Fann, Will Gallimore, Aubree Glissen, Olivia Henderson, Taurion Roberts, Elijah Seivers and Stephanie Vazquez.
Seventh Grade — Dani Dyer, Will Essary, Taylor Hall, Hayden Hudson, Colin McClearen, Sawyer Phipps, Anna Robinson, Anna Grace Spivey, Ashlyn Swinea, Jaden Tucker, Landon Winchester and Isabelle Wright.
Sixth Grade — Zach Aird, Mia Ball, Ian Barker, Chaten Bivens, Kassidy Brown, Austin Bush, Jesse Calderon, David Cheney, Alajah Gilbert, Allie Laser, Lauren Laser, Daniel Latimer, Kylie Reynolds, Adam Riley, Rylee Shell, Bryson Steele, Lexie Sullivan and Lilly Sumrok.
State Beta Club participants — Anna Grace Spivey, Isabelle Wright, Jaden Tucker, Dani Dyer, Sadie O’Brien, Eli Surber, Brandon Boaz, Johnathan Moore, Will Latimer, A.J. Murphy, Allie Chappell Lauren Mansfield, Maggie Glass, Kennedy Green, Anna Callahan, Lilly Bennett, Elijah Seivers, Sawyer Phipps, Will Gallimore, Taurion Roberts, Lyndsey Summers, Hadley Woodruff, Anna Robinson, Ashlyn Swinea, Nic Smiley, Annabelle Medford, Nathan Nanney and Lydia Warren.
Spelling Bee Winners in Beta
— Second Place Ashlyn Drewry and Third Place Lauren Mansfield.
Patriot’s Pen First Place Winner — Nolan Renfro.
Science Fair Winners in Beta
— Best In Show Lauren Mansfield and Maggie Glass, First Place (Chemistry) Lilly Bennett and Elijah Seivers, Second Place (Chemistry) Kennedy Green, Third Place (Chemistry) Nic Smiley, First Place (Consumer Science) Allie Chappell, Second Place (Consumer Science) Eli Surber and Will Latimer, First Place (Physics) Nathan Nanney, and Third Place (Other Sciences) Will Gallimore.
Top Ten Students (In alphabetical order)
Eighth Grade — Brandon Boaz, Maggie Glass, Kennedy Green, Lauren Mansfield, Johnathan Moore, A.J. Murphy, Nathan Nanney, Lyndsey Summers, Eli Surber and Lydia Warren.
Seventh Grade — Shannen Cheney, Will Essary, Colin McLearen, Sadie O’Brien, Duane Patrick, Sawyer Phipps, Anna Robinson, Jaden Tucker, Landon Winchester and Hadley Woodruff.
Sixth Grade — Briley Auvenshine, Ian Barker, Kristin Bradberry, Jackson Cassidy, Andrew Harvey, Lauren Laser, Payton Ognibene, Nathan Price, Nolan Renfro and Maggie Walker.
Fifth Grade — Bella Arnold, Drew Chappell, Chandler Conrad, Savannah Davis, Libby Hawkins, Kay Klonowski, Parker Lyons, Allie Mansfield, Belle O’Brien and Ava Warman.
Photos by Joel Washburn/ The Banner
Photos by Joel Washburn/The Banner