The Sherman Education Foundation brought together students, teachers and administrators Thursday night for its 14th annual Circle of Success recognition event. The evening, held at Austin College’s Wright Campus Center, featured awards, music and gifts to Sherman schools.

The Sherman Education Foundation brought together students, teachers and administrators Thursday night for its 14th annual Circle of Success recognition event. The evening, held at Austin College’s Wright Campus Center, featured awards, music and gifts to Sherman schools.

The purpose of the Circle of Success is twofold: awarding grants for educational services, equipment and activities to schools and honoring graduating seniors at Sherman High School, along with the teachers who influenced them.

The Sherman Education Foundation has given over $1.74 million to Sherman schools in the past 14 years, and the fruits of that effort were clearly on display. The Johnson Reception Gallery was lined with past gifts from SEF including microscopes, iPads and egg incubators. Local students from all grades, with the help of plenty of props and costumes, gave informational presentations on the many experiences they were able to have thanks to SEF funding, from field trips to anti-bullying programs.

"These projects are opportunities that help enrich and ignite young minds to really enhance their education and create a love of lifelong learning," said Jennifer Shelby, Circle of Success committee chair. "They also help our wonderful educators enhance their teaching abilities, thereby exciting students that may otherwise not be excited."

SEF announced 41 new projects across 12 SISD campuses for the upcoming year. These include new tricycles for Douglass Early Childhood Learning Center, dictionaries for Dillingham Intermediate and digital cameras and environmental monitoring equipment for SHS. Students will be taking field trips to the Harber Wildlife Museum, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, the Dallas Museum of Art and Frank Buck Zoo, and several campuses will receive new literacy intervention systems and music instruction resources.

"In the city of Sherman, there is a great deal of support for our schools, and we certainly appreciate that," said SISD superintendent Al Hambrick.

The highlight of the evening, however, was the naming of eight SHS seniors and eight Sherman teachers to the Circle of Success.

The process begins with Sherman teachers, who nominate a pool of students for the honor. Those students then submit an anonymous application to the Circle of Success Board. The Board chooses students who, in the words of Shelby, "in their own unique way have excelled in service, leadership and character."

Once they are selected, each student chooses one SISD teacher who has had a strong influence on their education to share the honor with them.

Teachers nominate students; students nominate teachers. "That’s the circle of success," said Shelby.

The chosen students and teachers were as follows:

Haleigh Arnold is co-president of the 3D Anti-Bullying Program and Family, Career and Community Leaders of America. Arnold is also a fourth-degree black belt in Tae Kwan Do. She plans to attend Texas A&M University and hopes to become a motivational speaker. Arnold chose to honor Ashlee Dyer, a career and technology teacher at SHS. "Mrs. Dyer does anything she can to help her students succeed, not only in school but in life," said Arnold.

Taylor Hart is a student council member and co-president of FCCLA and the 3D Anti-Bullying Program. Hart plans to attend Kansas State University and study sports medicine. She chose to honor Priscilla Burns, third grade teacher at Neblett Elementary. "She was an inspiration and a stepping stone in my life and educational career," said Hart

Reece Larson is a National Merit Scholarship finalist and Eagle Scout. Larson will attend Brigham Young University and pursue a career in dentistry. He chose to honor Jennifer Irwin, his second grade teacher at Neblett Elementary. "Mrs. Irwin taught me that learning continues outside the classroom, and she demonstrated that generosity, kindness, and caring are what influence people’s lives," said Larson

Ricky Noth was described by a sponsor as a young man who "seems to possess uncharacteristic consideration for others." Noth is active in FCCLA and his church youth group. He hopes to become either a nurse practitioner or a state trooper. Noth chose to honor SHS English teacher Larena Douglass: "My hope is that one day I can be as kind, honest and helpful as she is."

Samantha Powers is the captain of the varsity cheerleading, soccer and volleyball teams. Powers plans to attend Kansas State University to study speech pathology. She honored Piner Middle School guidance counselor Teresa Banks. "Not only did she give me support and a home during a sad and difficult time, but these things allowed me to finish high school with my friends," Powers said.

Abigail Ross is an officer in Future Farmers of America and vice president of Sisters of Service. Ross plans to pursue a degree in animal science from Oklahoma State University. She honored SHS dual-credit English teacher Robyn Fox. "Her tips for life are often quirky, but helpful to hear, and her honesty and sense of humor are refreshing," said Ross

Cole Travis, a saxophonist and varsity soccer captain, was described by teachers as a true gentleman. He plans to attend Dallas Baptist University in preparation for a career in the ministry. Travis honored Piner Middle School math teacher Trish Larson. "She held me to a higher standard and inspired me to use my leadership skills to be a positive influence on my peers," said Travis

Sarah Walker is the National Honor Society president and tennis team co-captain. Walker has not yet decided which college she will be attending. She plans to study international relations and foreign cultures and is considering service in the Peace Corps. She honored Cyndi Petray, gifted and talented teacher at Neblett and Jefferson Elementary schools. "Ms. Petray’s passion for teaching instilled a passion for learning in all of us," Walker said.