Senior Awards Night celebrates Class of 2023


Lizzie Rattenborg

David Choate, the current teacher of the year, hands the Lafayette Teacher of the Year Scholarship to recipient Reese Ruppert. Choate was on the committee with former teachers of the year to select the recipient.

Ammu Lanka, Reporter

On May 3, Senior Awards Night recognized students from the Class of 2023.

“I enjoy celebrating the seniors and congratulating them and their accomplishments, supporting them and seeing the student presenters.” Tim Jones, Class of 2023 principal said.

The event began with awards given from each department of Lafayette. Department Awards were awarded based on student grades and displayed outstanding character within each course.

A new award this year was the Lafayette Teacher of the Year Scholarship, awarded to Reece Ruppert.

“Annually, whoever the teacher of the year is, a scholarship would be given in their name to a senior. [Now], they put out an essay scholarship criteria so [students] could apply. We had ten applicants and the committee of former teachers of the year selected who the winner of the award would be,” Principal Karen Calcaterra said.

Ruppert said she was surprised and thankful to be the recipient.

“My friends, parents, and teachers have always been so kind and encouraging, always pushing me to do my best and give my all to anything I set my mind to,” she said.

The National Merit Scholarship was awarded to students based on PSAT performance. Seven students were recognized as commended students and 11 students were recognized as finalists. The seven finalist students were Erica Chen, Bryce Davis, Cameron Eltoft, Diya Gupta, Kopal Kumar, Joseph Marchand, Ryan Murphy, Shreya Ramalingam, Avery Uffelmann, Siddarth Vuskamalla and Samantha Zhang.

While department awards are selected by teachers based on grades and achievements, seniors who win student-selected awards were voted by their peers.

“The kids that [students] know are good leaders or have done a lot of service throughout the school [are chosen] and there’s a male and female for each of those.” Jones said.

Student-selected awards were given to students for three traits. Celeste Viñas and Brendan Berger recieved Leadership Awards, the Service Award was given to Juliana Mejia and Bhushan Sreekrishnavilas and the Sportsmanship Award recipients were Grace Tyson and Matthew Haefner. Another student-selected award, the Extra Distance Award was for teachers who helped students move further in school through their influence. One male and female teacher was chosen. Math teacher Patricia Mabie and social studies teacher Steve Klawiter were the recipients.

Although announced prior to the ceremony, students were recognized for receiving Glory of Missouri Awards. These are based on the 14 qualities engraved in the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City. Lafayette staff nominated the students for the awards based on the qualities of the students displayed throughout their four years. The students selected for each quality were recognized in February by House of Representative Justin Sparks in the Capitol building, and were given a plaque as well.

Another award at the ceremonies was the Missouri Scholars 100 award, which was created in 2019 by the Missouri Association of Secondary Principals to recognize students ranked in the top ten percent who met all academic requirements for nomination, such as having a score higher than 30 on the ACT and completing Advanced Placement courses in all subjects. The recipients nominated and selected for this award from Lafayette are Kopal Kumar and Samantha Zhang.

The selection for Athletic Scholar Awards varied from academic awards. Each sports team at Lafayette nominated one of their peers to be selected for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch award. The coaching staff then voted on their top three student-athletes and the student with the most votes is selected. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch award winner was Grace Tyson. Lafayette coaches also voted for the Lafayette Athlete of the Year award, which was given to Elissa Barnard and Matthew Haefner. MSHSAA Participation Awards were given to students who participated in three seasons for each of the four years of high school. Kennedy Bryce was recognized for cheerleading and soccer and Faith Halter was recognized for volleyball, cross country, basketball and track & field. Grace Tyson was recognized for cross country, swimming & diving and track & field participation.

Other awards given at Senior Awards Night were scholarship awards, which consisted of memorial awards where students earned $500 in scholarships.

The last awards given at Senior Awards Night were the Special Awards. The Dr. Mayo awards are based on the students who participated in the Voluntary Interdistrict Choice program all throughout high school. The program, established in 1983, focuses on allowing city residents to transfer to St. Louis County schools to promote diversity. The Dr. Mayo Award for Most Outstanding Student was given to Jayla Jones and the Dr. Mayo Award for Most Improved Student was given to Yasmin Hassan.

To conclude the night, the Lancer Award recipient of 2023 was announced. Six students were nominated by Lafayette’s faculty and the winner of the Lancer Award was Emma Luther. Along with the recognition, Luther was awarded a $2,000 scholarship from the Lafayette Parent Organization. 

To me, this award means so much. It means that my hard work has truly paid off and that it is being seen by others. It also means less stress next year paying for my education and I couldn’t be more thankful.” Luther said.