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Six seniors honored by Optimists
Selected for their academics, activities
This year's Forsyth-Cumming Optimist Club scholarship recipients included, from left, Ann Lagomasino, Persephany Peterson, Cody Mixon, Savannah Chapman, Morgan Landi and Emily Givens. - photo by Alyssa LaRenzie

The Forsyth-Cumming Optimist Club continued on its mission of “bringing out the best in children” as it awarded $1,000 scholarships to six outstanding high school seniors.

President Dale Leonard said the annual awards are the club’s “favorite day of the year.”

The committee reviewed dozens of applications looking for well-rounded students who represent the club’s creed.

The competition was tough in Forsyth County, Leonard said.

“I hope you’re as impressed by the quality of people who have won scholarships here today as we are,” he said after the students accepted the awards in a ceremony Thursday.

The winners included Savannah Chapman and Persephany Peterson, both of North Forsyth; Morgan Landi of Forsyth Central; Cody Mixon of West Forsyth; Emily Givens of Lambert; and Ann Lagomasino of Pinecrest Academy.

All the students listed academic awards, many extracurricular activities and volunteer efforts on their scholarship applications.

Each student brought a teacher, volunteer coordinator or family friend who spoke about their achievements during the ceremony.

Landi’s English teacher, Jeremiah Walker, talked about her “incredible drive to succeed.”

Also the club’s student of the month, Landi graduated from Central as a sophomore this weekend.

Peterson, a former foster child, spoke about her work to help children who are going through similar situations.

Roger Dunn, chairman of the scholarship committee, said Peterson is his “hero.”

Dunn read the club’s creed, and said Peterson meets every word of it, down to the final promise: “To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.”

Chapman brought family friend Van Baird, who said the two will be going on the same mission trip to the Philippines this summer before she starts her college career.

Baird also talked about a program at his office to “pay it forward” that Chapman took a step farther.

“For her 18thbirthday,” he said, “Savannah took the whole day and went out and for 18 different people or places, paid it forward.”

Mixon, the only male student to receive an award this year, drew praise from his teacher, Jessica Griffin, who discussed his athletic and academic abilities.

“The best thing about him though is his heart,” Griffin said. “He is probably the nicest kid I’ve ever met.”

Givens was recognized for her volunteer work with middle school students at the Browns Bridge Community Church youth program.

The program counselor, Mary Ellen Ponder, said Givens represented a positive high school role model for the eighth-graders.

“They have an incredible person to look up to,” Ponder said.

Finally, Ann Lagomasino, the valedictorian for this year’s Pinecrest Academy class, discussed her plans to study music therapy in college.

Her teacher, Carla Chwat, said she knew Lagomasino before she became one of her students because she enjoyed listening to her play the piano from down the hall long after classes had ended for the day.

The private school’s mission is to form Christian leaders to transform society, Chwat noted, adding “Annie’s already transformed society.”

The annual scholarships are funded through the club’s Avenue of Flags program.

For $35 per year, club members will install and remove an American flag on six national holidays in front of a home or business.

About 520 flags went up and down six times in the past year, club members said, adding that the efforts are worth it to fund the scholarships for the six outstanding college-bound Forsyth County students.