“These are the cream of the crop of Lely High School,” said National Honor Society advisor, Professor Brian Milner as he welcomed the attendees to the annual Lely High School Top 100 Dinner at the Marco Island Hilton on May 26. Sponsored by the Lely High School National Honor Society (NHS), the event honors the top 25 academic achievers in each class.
NHS President Diana Alas said, “The National Honor Society enjoys celebrating the successes of the brightest students at Lely and believes they truly deserve to be recognized for their accomplishments. Students can enjoy seeing the fruits of their efforts while celebrating alongside families and friends.” The NHS began raising fundsfor the dinner and senior scholarship awards last summer before the school year even began.
Lely High School Principal Ryan Nemeth encouraged the students by saying “Put forth your best efforts in all you do in your future.” Assistant Principal of Curriculum Ellen Keegan said, “It is remarkable to work with such bright and focused students.”
The theme of the evening was “The Keys to Success” – the keys of scholarship, service, character and leadership. NHS parliamentarian, Connor Fitzgerald described scholarship as “the quest for personal growth and success.” NHS Secretary Zachary Usser said “Service enables students to unlock their true potential,” while NHS Treasurer Jessica Ricciardelli added “We shouldn’t forget the little things suchas opportunities to help those in need, as this will produce a domino effect when that person pays it forward.”
“Humility defines the character of a true leader,” remarked NHS Vice-President Salomon Herrera Montes De Oca, who will attend Tufts University in the fall. President Diana Alas told the crowd “True leadership doesn’t mean being perfect. True leaders own up to their mistakes,” as she cited the importance of working together as a team.
Alas, who is looking forward to attending the University of Florida next year, spoke of her years at Lely High School. “When I started school at Lely, I was painfully shy and timid, but as the years have passed I havegrown to be confident in myself while developing the personal traits of hard work, determination and focus. I believe it is the environment that Lely created for me that has allowed me to grow into the person I am today.”
Guest speaker, Dr. Leslie Ricciardelli, executive director of the Secondary School Program, Collier County Public Schools, was introduced by her daughter, NHS Treasurer Jessica Ricciardelli. Dr Ricciardelli cautioned the students that “big offices and fancy cars can be fabulous benefits of achieving success, but at the end of the day, there has to be more.” She added “To the parents here tonight, the greatest success you have is sitting right next to you.” Ricciardelliconcluded by stressing the importance of knowledge as a source of strength throughout life. She said, “No one can ever take your education away from you.”
All 100 students were called forward and honored individually. Seniors were presented a special scholarship gift. A short bio was read about each student, describing his or her extracurricular and volunteer activities. These young athletes, musicians, artists, photographers and scholars also demonstrate a dedication to humanity by volunteering at NCH, Camp Mackle, Habitat for Humanity, Teen Court, the Collier County Public Libraries, the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life, their own individual churches, and many other charitable and non-profit organizations.
Lely High School NHS parliamentarian, Aliana Kellerhouse, who willattend the University of Florida in the fall, shared this quote from Harriet Tubman: “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”
The dinner was held in honor of these outstanding students. But I know that I speak for each and everyone who attended when I say that the honor was truly ours. One could not help but feel that we were in the presence of greatness. The evening was a look at the future. And indeed, the future looks very bright, as these remarkable young adults will forge a world filled withthe keys to success in the spirit of hope.
Lely High School’s Top 100 Scholars
Alberto De Leon
Daviel Diaz Pajon
Ethan Van Boven
Salomon Herrera Montes
Aliana Kellerhouse Griffin
Bensey Pierre Louis