Today’s luncheon to mark end of era
It is hard for me to imagine but today the Bonner Springs-Edwardsville Chamber of Commerce will be conducting its 20th annual luncheon to honor members of the Bonner Springs High School National Honor Society. The first event was held in 1989 and it remains a popular activity with adults and students alike.
The program provides one-on-one interaction between outstanding students and business leaders. Early in the spring, the chamber members agreed to sponsor a NHS member at the luncheon. Starting a bit after 11 a.m. today, chamber members will arrive at the high school to pick up their student and go to the luncheon at the Edwardsville Community Center. During the program, the NHS members will receive certificates from the chamber. Usually, the program is over and the students are back in school by 2 p.m.
This is a dress-up affair for the young people. The luncheon gives chamber members a chance to see the really high quality young men and women that attend BSHS. To be a member, youngsters have to be in the top portion of their class and complete a community service project.
The chamber started the program in 1989 as a way to increase understanding between young people and adults. Over the years, there have been a variety of speakers including Gov. Joan Finney, congressmen, state officials, TV news anchors and many others. Twice, when the Legislature had to be called back into session, we had to rush around and get a substitute speaker. Once, we pressed Johnny Walker, who was pastor of the Christian Church, into action. The other time came when the speaker had to cancel the morning of the banquet and I served double duty as master of ceremonies and speaker. Another time we had Chiefs' Coach Marty Schottenheimer lined up. However, he had to cancel a couple of weeks ahead of time due to pressure of the NFL draft. The event is held on the first Thursday in May each year.
Incidentally, National Honor Society was founded in the early 1920s as a way to honor academic achievement. It has spread throughout the nation with almost every high school now having a chapter.
I have to add that I wasn't a member of NHS. I could use the excuse that Garnett didn't have a chapter in the 1950s, however, if they would have, I wouldn't have qualified.
I have a hard time grasping the fact that this event has been going on for two decades. The youngsters who were part of the first group are now in their upper 30s and it might not be long before we have second generation students.
In many ways, this will be a bittersweet year for me. I will always regard this year's class as being special. The first reason is that my grandson, Zach Holder, is a senior. This will mark the end of an era since next year we won't have a student in Bonner Springs' schools. Of course, I am sponsoring Zach, however, due to the regional tennis tournament, he may not be able to attend.
The second reason why this class is special is that I've gotten to know so many of them from activities. When they were in third grade, I was talked into coming out of "recreation coaching retirement" and worked with a third and fourth grade Kerry Roberts basketball team. This was a great experience and one which strengthened my belief that we have quality young people in our community.
I can remember spending Thursday at practices and Saturday at the game. Yes, I also remember the thrill of winning a division title.
In addition, I watched them play recreation baseball and had the privilege of sponsoring the Chieftain team.
I watched these youngsters grow into big, strong young men and many of them have excelled in a variety of high school sports.
In my four decades of being part of high school football, I believe last fall was the most exciting season I have ever viewed. Since giving up sports writing, I have continued to handle stats for the Braves, and last year's team was a pleasure to watch play. This class showed leadership and due to their hard work, they won. They provided BSHS football fans with a season to remember.
I can tell you that these are quality young people who will be successful in the future. It was a pleasure to get to know them. They have been successful in high school and I believe they will be successful in the future. Congratulations to the seniors and their parents and please enjoy a safe graduation weekend.