Who’s Who? and whose the who that decides who

Cade Spencer, Photo Essay Editor

As seniors prepare for their life after high school, they work tirelessly to fill resumes with any accomplishments possible. During this time of reflection, some students have an opportunity to go further and are invited to participate in an annual student recognition opportunity. 

The Who’s Who Award is an annual acknowledgment of twenty four seniors nominated by the Bowie staff and selected by a committee of previous Teachers of the Year and department heads. 

“The [Who’s Who award] is about [honoring] those seniors who are active in making Bowie and South Austin a better place,” History Department Chair Carlen Floyd said. “The [nominees] are well rounded, thoughtful, kind, or helpful. Anything that means they care about other people.”

Amy Shreeve is a Who’s Who nominee who participates in Speech and Debate, PALS, NHS, and the Odyssey Literary Magazine.

“I’m really grateful that teachers would think of me as someone that has made a difference at Bowie,” Shreeve said. “It’s nice to know that they appreciate me like I appreciate them.”

After each staff member has nominated five students, the entries are reviewed by a committee of previous Teachers of the Year and department heads. 

“When I nominate kids I look at things they do outside of class and my direct personal experience with [them],” Floyd said. “But I always look for people who voluntarily help someone who is struggling.”

Angel Estrada is a Who’s Who nominee involved in choir, theatre, and NHS.

“I was in awe that I was nominated,” Estrada said. “I’m happy to be recognized, but I feel as if my hard work is shown [best] through the end product of whatever project I am working on at [any] time.” 

Once a student has been officially nominated, they submit an application consisting of a resume and an essay.

“The application process was really easy,” Shreeve said. “Most seniors already have a list of their accomplishments at Bowie for college and scholarship applications.”

After the applications have been assembled, the members of the Who’s Who committee cast votes supporting twenty four different seniors.

“The department chairs make a binder of the finalists and printouts of all the student’s applications,” Floyd said. “Teachers have access to sticky notes and can go through and write [any comments] they have about a student to bring up in a committee meeting.”

Emily Leeke is a senior nominee involved in NHS, Spanish Honor Society, tennis, and Student Council.

“I felt honored [to be nominated},” Leeke said. “It’s a great honor to be nominated by a teacher who feels as though you have contributed to Bowie in the past four years.”

For the 2018-2019 school year, the committee will be selecting 24 honorees out of 171 senior nominees. 

“We have had valedictorians who did not make it to Who’s Who,” Floyd said. “It can be someone who is not at the top of the class, but they are also in Multicultural Awareness Club, Musical Theatre, or PALS.”

Similar to the Bowie staff, Leeke understands the importance of honoring seniors for all of their contributions to the school community,

“I think everyone who is a Who’s Who honoree is determined, a leader, motivated, and altruistic,” Leeke said. “By honoring seniors based on more than academics, many seniors who deserve recognition have a chance to shine.”

In addition to being well-rounded, the Who’s Who Committee feels it is vital that a Who’s Who honoree is active in the school and surrounding community. 

“To me, being an active member means being willing to take a step back and work out of the spotlight,” Shreeve said. “I’m not used to [the recognition] and it makes me a little uncomfortable that people notice the work I do.”

As a senior, Estrada has experienced the importance of working hard to succeed in high school.

“I just really love getting involved and keeping myself busy,” Estrada said. “Always want to better yourself because you can never not grow and learn from experience.”

After the 24 honorees have been announced, their photos will be placed in the library for a span of four years. 

“Every kid has something amazing to other, and every student has a certain kindness,” Floyd said. “If we could I feel like we would give every senior an award.”

As senior year comes to an end, Leeke believes the high school experience is more meaningful then what can be fit on a transcript.

“Building a resume means nothing if you have not grown as a person and felt fulfilled by all your hard work,” Leeke said. “It’s better to become passionate about something and help others then to constantly chase opportunities to type on paper.”

Despite a small honoree group of twenty four, Floyd wishes more students could be awarded with the Who’s Who title. 

“I would never ever-ever in a million years want there to be the impression that anybody who is not a Who’s Who is irrelevant and they should be embarrassed,” Floyd said. “Being nominated, the fact that a teacher thought of you as well-rounded, committed, and caring is an honor all by itself.”