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Hays middle school students end the year in uncharted territory





Eighth-graders in both the public and private schools in Hays made history this year as the first graduates from their respective schools.

Two-hundred and one students heading to high school next year were honored at Hays Middle School's 2013 recognition May 16, the first year of operating under that name. HMS is the former Felten Middle School, which was renamed after the Hays USD 489 Board of Education closed Kennedy Middle School last year and all public school students moved to one location.

Forty-four eighth-graders were the first ever graduates from Thomas More Prep-Marian Junior High, which opened in fall 2012 following Kennedy's closing.

Following are the top honors given to eighth-graders in each of their school's inaugural years.

* Hays Middle School

Two students, Shane Berens and Sierra Eichman, were honored with the Excellence in Education Award for earning a cumulative 4.0 grade-point average all three years of middle school.

The Kansas State High School Activities Association Citizenship Award, chosen by the HMS staff, went to Jake Dechant and Maddie Keller. Likewise, the American Legion Award winners, Tanner Callis and Jeanie Balzer, also were chosen by the staff.

Winners of the Strength of Character Award, chosen by their eighth-grade classmates, were Berens, Hannah Norris and Marie Reveles.

* TMP also handed out a KSHSAA Award to a male and female -- to Joseph Flax and Jodi Veach -- as well as a pair of American Legion Awards, to Tucker Rhoades and Bridget Heimann.

In addition, TMP gave the same three awards to eighth-graders it gives graduating seniors at high school graduation, with the Bishop's Award of Excellence being the highest award for all-around excellence in Christian leadership, academics, personal conduct and concern for others.

Winning that award this year was Megan Koenigsman, who also had the highest academic grade-point average of 99.14 percent. However, because she won the Bishop's Award of Excellence, the scholarship award went to the student with the next highest GPA, who was Jodi Veach (98.28 percent).

The eighth-grade service citation went to Kendra Werth.

Similar awards also were given to seventh-graders. Hope Aufdemberge won the award for Christian leadership, while the scholarship award went to Anna Speno (99.06 percent), and the service award went to Elly Lang.

TMP faculty voted on the service awards and the leadership/bishop's award.