EDITORIAL: Students give hope

May 6—Student of the Year candidates are among several in their generation that give hope for a brighter future.

We announced the Top 10 finalists for the Student of the Year and want to take another moment to recognize all the candidates.

Patriot Auto Group and the McAlester News-Capital continued a partnership to recognize area high school seniors through a Student of the Year program, culminating with the winner to be announced at a banquet set for 6 p.m. May 18 at the McAlester Country Club.

Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. with the banquet set to start at 6 p.m. Local accountant and motivational speaker Jimmy Williams is scheduled to speak.

High school seniors become eligible for Student of the Year with local school officials nominating them. A selection committee picks the students of the month throughout the year and narrows the field to the finalists and the eventual winner.

Students selected as Students of the Month submit their information and answer some short essay questions. Those questions include who inspires them, what their goals are for the future, how a new car would help them, and more.

The following is the full list of students of the month:

September

—McAlester's Abigail Brown

—Crowder's Abbie Lott

October

—McAlester's Kynli Jones

—Stuart's Geralyn Haney

November

—Calvin's Nariah Bump

—McAlester's Caleb Melton

December

—Wilburton's Haylee Baker

—Savanna's Payton Gray

January

—McAlester's Rhylan Riddel

—Crowder's Royce Florenzano

February

—Lakewood's Madilynn Kennedy

—Lakewood's Jenessa Dugger

March

—Quinton's Caden Williams

—McAlester's Jadyn McKelvey

April

—Kiowa's Jaxon Wills

—Quinton's Claire Lowrimore

May

—Haileyville's Brennan Layne Kuykendall

—Indianola's Graci Skinner

We applaud these students for the excellence in the classroom and in the community.

Your leadership at a young age provides hope that the future will be brighter in each of our communities.

Tatton Manning, Patriot Auto Group principal dealer, said he started the program in 2015 with the first vehicle given to the Student of the Year in 2016 at the Bartlesville dealership — with Patriot Auto Group giving students more than a dozen vehicles through the program since then.

Patriot Auto partnered with the McAlester News-Capital in 2019 for a program highlighting students in McAlester and the surrounding areas.

Crowder's Kiley Watkins became the first McAlester-area Student of the Year in 2019. McAlester's Zoie Newman won the award in 2020, the event had to be cancelled in 2021, and McAlester's Carsyn Gragg won the award in 2022.

We look forward to honoring all the candidates at the banquet and seeing the reaction of the deserving winner.