Seventeen years ago, the Petal Education Foundation began annually recognizing a special individual, club or business who has contributed significantly to the Petal School District with the Champion of the Year Award, given each year at the Panthers’ homecoming football game.
Nominations are now being sought for this year’s award winner – which can be any Petal alumni or non-alumni, organizations, clubs or nonprofit businesses – with a nomination deadline of Aug. 21.
“There are so many people in the Petal School District area who deserve recognition for all of the time and volunteerism, and all the efforts they’ve made to better our city, our community and our school district,” said Leahne Lightsey, executive director of the Petal Education Foundation. “I think with all of the things they’ve done, it absolutely shows, and it’s a great partnership between individuals and the school district.
“And it’s not just those folks who have done anything lately; it’s over the course of the school district’s inception. Thank goodness we have this opportunity to recognize these folks.”
Although the Champion of the Year Award can be presented to an individual, organization, club, or non-profit business, it cannot be given to an active employee of the Petal School District. Nominees must have contributed to the school district, which does not have to include financial contributions – for example, time and service will be accepted.
Nominees also must live in the Petal School District and be involved in the community or have given back to the community.
“It’s not about amounts of money that have been given; it’s about time and effort put in on behalf of children,” Lightsey said. “Sometimes it is people who have donated, but that’s not the criteria.”
Nominations can be made in the form of a letter – with the nominee’s supporting information and listings of involvement or activities – addressed to the Petal Education Foundation Board of Directors, P.O. Box 948, Petal, MS 39475.
“(The nomination process) is really easy,” Lightsey said. “It’s not something that you have to spend a whole lot of time preparing – we will even accept an email.
“But we do have to have some facts as to why we think whoever (is making the nomination) feels that particular person is worthy.”
Homecoming festivities will begin on Oct. 29 with the annual parade, and the award will be given during a presentation ceremony at the football game the next day.
Previous winners of the Champion of the Year Award include the Cosmopolitan Club of Petal, Marcus Ware, Ted and Charlene Cannon, Demaris Lee and Nadine Coleman.
“Homecoming is a little later this year – it’s the last Friday night in October,” Lightsey said. “That gives us a lot of time to prepare for this.
“It’s a big deal, because whoever that person is, they’re going to ride in the parade and they’re going to be honored at a reception, and also honored at halftime with a plaque. And then that person’s picture is forever at the central office on display, so it’s a neat, nice honor.”
For more information, call Lightsey at (601) 545-3002 or email her: firstname.lastname@example.org.