BY RACHEL GREENBERG
The Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) hosted its annual Lightning Award ceremony in the auditorium on April 27 to recognize students’ academic and personal achievements thus far in their high school career.This year, 158 students applied for the Lightning Award and 28 for the Lightning Scholarship.
“PTSA decided many years ago that we wanted to recognize and celebrate student accomplishments,” board member Natasha Samagond said. “This award is recognizing their hard work, amount of service hours, and can even be placed on their college resume.”
In addition to the award, PTSA also offered scholarship money to nine students based on several factors such as their GPA, extra-curricular activities and well-roundedness.The scholarships ranged from $500-$1000.
“We made sure all students had met the scholarship criteria,” Samagond said. “Our goal is to increase the amount of scholarships each year because the students deserve it.”
Fundraising Vice President Colleen Laurent said that this year’s applicant turnout was unlike any other year.
“We received a record number of applications this year, up 25 percent, in large part due to our success in spreading the word to students through clubs, particularly the PRIDE club,” Laurent said.
In order to receive the award, students had to be a member of PTSA.
“The $10 membership fee makes the scholarships possible,” Samagond said. “I encourage families to join so we can continue hosting the ceremony and also give out more scholarship each year.”
President of PTSA, Silvia Novelli, said students should be encouraged to apply for the Lightning Award in the years to come.
“Lightning Award is an academic award that can be mentioned in a student’s resume and it is well considered by many colleges,” Novelli said.
In addition to the award that students received at the ceremony, they also get a Lightning pin.
“When the names of winners are announced, students go on stage to collect their certificates,” Laurent said. “They are also given a pin, which they can wear to their graduation ceremony.”
Besides honoring students for all of their hard work, the ceremony showcased other talents as well.
“This year we had a Cypress Bay jazz band and a singer which was very entertaining,” Samagond said. “PTSA likes providing these performances because parents don’t get to see that aspect of the school too often.”
Members of administration, as well as Mr. Neely, attended the ceremony.
“Administration is there every year because they are supportive of the Cypress Bay community and PTSA,” Samagond said. “It is nice to have their presence at the event supporting the students who work so hard.”
Samagond says that applying for the award is also beneficial when applying for colleges.
“When colleges look at your application they look at it in the entirety,” Samagond said. “The award shows colleges that they were active in school and involved in the community.”
Sophomore Kayla Fernandes enjoyed the award ceremony for her second year in a row.
“I thought that the PTSA did a great job in planning the ceremony,”Fernandes said. “It was nice to see all of their accomplishments this past school year and how they’ve really helped our school.”
Fernandes also thinks that accepting the award was an honorable feeling because it shows that you stand out in such a large school.
“I felt that the award was a big accomplishment considering there were so many applicants who were eligible to receive it and I was chosen,” Fernandes said.
Senior Justin Wyman was one of the seven students who got the $1000 scholarship.
“I’ll never forget when they called my name,” Wyman said. “I always thought I had a chance but it’s one thing to believe and it’s another for it to actually happen.”
Wyman said that it was an honor to be the first student called up to the podium to shake hands with Mr. Neely and accept such a prestigious award.
“I don’t think anyone was quite as joyful as I was,” Wyman said. “Except for maybe my dad in the stands because $1000 means less money he will have to pay to send me to the University of Florida.”
In addition to applying for the award throughout all four years of high school, Wyman hopes that underclassmen do the same.
“There is nothing better than the feeling you get, knowing someone chose to give you a scholarship out of so many others due to your achievements and hard work,” Wyman said. “I hope underclassmen realize that it can help them in the future.”