SHERIDAN — The Academics for All committee is pleased to announce the start of our 19th year of recognizing and rewarding Sheridan High School seniors who are academic and community leaders. For the next five months, in this space on Saturday, you will find a Summit Award article about a student who has made the most of the academic and extracurricular opportunities available to him or her.

The AFA committee was formed in 1997. Tim Belton, one of the founding members, recalls, “We were a group of parents with students in various grades of Sheridan County School District 2. Our observation was that, in Sheridan, media reporting of student success had focused primarily on athletics. So we formed Academics for All for the purpose of publicly celebrating students’ academic successes.”

The group hoped that that recognition might also inform and engage younger students, giving them role models and a concrete picture of the opportunities ahead of them in high school. Belton reflects, “I’m pleased that this small organization, made up entirely of volunteers and funded only by small local donations, has not only endured but has made a real contribution to the community. I’ve seen it have a positive impact on both students and the school district.”

One former Summit Award winner, Rebecca Rapf, SHS ‘08, agrees, “I always read the articles in the newspaper; it was really interesting to see how involved the older students were and how much they had accomplished.”

The selection process for the Summit Award begins with nominations submitted by the high school faculty, counselors and administration. Nominated students complete a two-page application. Applications are reviewed by Academics for All committee members who, working together, select approximately 20 winners. During the course of the school year, each Summit winner is interviewed by one of our volunteer committee members who then writes an article about the student for publication in The Sheridan Press and on Facebook.

Photographic trophies of the winners are produced and displayed prominently in the high school trophy case for four years, after which they are given to the student’s family. At the end of each year, all the winners are recognized at the high school honors award assembly. Cash prizes are given to top students and to outstanding educators nominated by those students.

During the last 18 years, with the strong support of our community, more than 383 students have received the Summit Award and over $69,000 has been awarded in prizes. Prizes are funded by a single fall fundraising drive. Over 90 percent of the money the committee raises goes directly toward recognizing and rewarding students and educators. In 2014, the Internal Revenue Service awarded AFA the status of a tax exempt, 501(c)3, public charity which makes contributions to the group tax deductible.

If you would like more information about Academics for All or would be interested in joining our committee, please email Anne Gunn (, or speak to any of the other current committee members: Beth Bailey, Mary Brezik-Fisher, Mary Hogarty, Ryan Maddux, Tempe Murphy, Bill Patton, and Gina Thoney.