Mt. Hiram Lodge presents annual Lamar Awards
By EMERALD BENTLEY
Tuesday evening the Mt. Hiram Masonic Lodge #595 honored two CCISD seniors and one teacher with the Mirabeau B. Lamar Award for Excellence in Personal and Scholastic Achievement.
Not even thunderstorms could keep the crowd away. The meeting began with an opening of prayer followed by each Lamar Award recipient introducing the family and friends they had brought to witness the presentation. The audience was full of moms, dads, grandparents, fellow educators, and principals.
The first recipient of the Lamar award was senior Steele Straley. Junior Warden and Lamar Award Committee Chairman Darrell McDonald shared Straley’s achievements and goals.
“Steele always insists on helping others,” McDonald said, also speaking of the importance of Steele’s faith when reaching for achievements.
“Steele is an Eagle Scout and wants to become a Texas Game Warden,” shared McDonald. Straley plans to attend Central Texas College in the fall to pursue a degree in Criminal Justice as a pathway to becoming a game warden.
“I have always loved the outdoors and want to protect the wildlife,” said Straley.
Straley had the opportunity to speak a few words and thanked the Mt. Hiram Lodge members for choosing him out of all of the other applicants.
Alexis Grasso was the second student to be recognized for her achievements, as McDonald shared her long list of accolades.
“Alexis is a very motivated young lady. She is ambitious, kind, and honest,” McDonald said. McDonald commended Grasso on already becoming a certified nursing assistant while still in high school and that she also volunteers her time with various organizations and for many causes, he said.
Grasso will be attending the University of Texas at San Antonio in the fall and plans to pursue a degree in Biology.
“I want to use the biology degree as a stepping stone to become a cardiothoracic surgeon or an emergency room physician,” she said.
Grasso shared her appreciation for the award and how the scholarship ultimately helped with the financial burden of attending college.
Fifth grade Science teacher Jennifer Stevenson was presented with the Lamar Award for educators. Stevenson has taught for three years at Martin Walker Elementary. McDonald said in his presentation that Stevenson is known for her balance of love and firm discipline in the classroom.
Stevenson was described as “friendly and approachable” and the “kind of teacher every parent wants for their child.”
“Her passion for science is evident in all she does,” McDonald said.
Stevenson was presented with a certificate and $100 to use toward classroom expenses.
“I am very honored to have been recognized for this award,” shared Stevenson.
The presentation and meeting were concluded with prayer and all guests were invited to the banquet hall for refreshments. Mt. Hiram Masonic Lodge members presented the recipients with a cake and each award winner took the opportunity to cut the cake.
The Lamar Award is an annual award named after Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar, a former member of the Harmony Lodge #6 out of Galveston, Texas. Lamar was key in securing the independence of Texas and eventually served as the Vice President and President of the Republic of Texas. Perhaps his greatest accomplishment was his work with the public-school system. Lamar urged the Congress of Texas to allot land for public schools, as well as two public universities now know as The University of Texas and Texas A&M University. As he paved the way for public education, Lamar earned the title of “Father of Education.”
Today his legacy is honored in the form of an award and medal presented to those students and educators who demonstrate outstanding personal achievements, high academic standards, and deep community involvement. Each year the Lamar Award Selection Committee choses one male and one female student from the total applicants. The students are presented with the Lamar Award Medal, a certificate, as well as an $1,250 educational scholarship.