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Principal Dwight Lundstrom and Assistant Superintendent Lance Gibbon shake the students’ hands as they dole out awards. - Liz Burlingame/Whidbey News-Times
Principal Dwight Lundstrom and Assistant Superintendent Lance Gibbon shake the students’ hands as they dole out awards.
— image credit: Liz Burlingame/Whidbey News-Times

There are a lot of things that compete for a students’ attention: sports, friends, relationships, You Tube. But with time management and hard work, about 85 teens received Academic Letters at Oak Harbor High School Wednesday night.

Parents crowded into Parker Hall at 7 p.m., so many so, that extra cafeteria chairs had to be brought in. A quiet hum filled the room as parents beamed at their children and the speakers took their seats.

“I want to thank the parents for helping your children,” Principal Dwight Lundstrom said. “Obviously your hard work is paying off because we have a room full of overachievers.”

Academic Letters began more than a decade ago, in 1996. To earn a letter, students must be enrolled full-time at OHHS and/or Running Start at Skagit Valley College and earn a cumulative grade point average 3.50 or better for two consecutive semesters. The keynote speaker, Mayor Jim Slowik, said he remembered being on the school board when the Academic Letter Ceremony first began.

“When I was on the board, this was not controversial at all. The only controversy was what color to make the letter, gold like the athletic letter or purple,” he said. “I think we made the right choice.”

The awards are purple with gold trim. Students were also awarded 4.0 Highest Honor Pins and 4.0 Highest Honor Pins for two semesters. Another 88 students who were awarded Academic Letters in previous years received one or more Bars for continued academic merit.

“This is the beginning of a long list of achievements for you,” Slowik said.

He added that many of these high-achievers may want to consider municipal government. Slowik shared his own shift from business-owner to first-term as mayor.

“Most of you will continue at the college level,” Slowik said. “You should try to think outside of the box with your degrees.”

A law degree doesn’t always translate to a job in a law office, he said. Civil engineering could be a public works job. Geography, a city planner.

But regardless of what the students choose, Slowik advised them to become committed to life-long learning.

After all the students were called to that stage for their award, with a handshake Principal Lundstrom and Assistant Superintendent

Lance Gibbon, parents unleashed the applause.

Gibbon also asked the students to applaud the parents.

“The media has talked a lot lately about a renewed sense of hope in this nation. Shaking hands with all of you gives me a renewed sense of hope. I feel fortunate to be a part of that,” Gibbon said.

After a semester of difficult classes, junior Madison Shipley said the award is proof of her hard work.

“This award means that I’ve put in a lot of effort and applied myself to achieve,” she said.

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