Ooltewah High School seniors Katie Cuttle and Stephanie Stevens already have plenty of awards between them: National Honor Society. Beta Club. GPAs of 3.9 and 4.0, respectively.
And on Tuesday, the pair sat among 270 other seniors heralded as being the best of the best among Hamilton County students at the 32nd annual Superintendent's Honors Banquet, which highlighted the achievement of those students in the top 10 percent of their class at 17 high schools.
Speakers encouraged the students to dream big, learn from their mistakes and surround themselves with positive-thinking people.
"Dream the largest dream you can possibly imagine. And double it," said Mike Reed, chairman of the Hamilton County Schools Fund for Excellence. "Know that you possess greatness."
Keynote speaker Miss Tennessee 2012 Chandler Lawson said she often speaks to elementary school groups about simple concepts like kindness, caring and understanding.
"But what I started understanding was these things are applicable for the rest of your life, not only when you're 7 or 8. They're totally relevant to you at 17 and 18. They're relevant to me at 23," said Lawson, a Tullahoma native and graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Each student was presented with a certificate from Superintendent Rick Smith offering a Hamilton County teaching position upon completion of appropriate college coursework and licensing.
"This is only the beginning," Smith said.
Contact staff writer Kevin Hardy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6249.