Defined as the perfect combination of people for a particular purpose, Sully Buttes fine arts, community service, and academics advisors and sports coaches universally lauded the seniors as members of ‘dream teams’ during the Sully Buttes Senior Awards program held by Zoom last Thursday, May 7. Taking the metaphor a step further, Secondary Principal Jeremy Chicoine commended the Sully Buttes Class of 2020 for being “All-State caliber, well-rounded, level headed, well-spoken, understanding, and kind,” and lamented the loss of their leadership in the high school building when they graduate.
Awards were presented in fine arts, community service, and academics.
Instrumental and Vocal Music instructor Erica Paxton commented on the performances of seniors Angela Guthmiller, Avery Weinheimer, Jack Darling, Tatyana Ferguson, Kari-Anne Lyons, Gabby McQuirk, and Brianna Fanger. Jack, Tatyana, Brianna, Angela, and Kari-Anne were recognized for four years of chorus participation. Brianna was a three year member of a small vocal group, Kari-Anne was a two year member of a small vocal group and for “his dedication to the program,” Jack was named Most Valuable Singer. Angela and Avery each received an award for their selection to All-State Chorus. Avery was named the Most Outstanding Senior Chorus Member, and Angela received the National School Choral Award, which is “the highest honor for school performers and recognizes merit.”
Three seniors were lauded for their participation in band, Gabby, Brianna, and Angela. Gabby was a four year member of both band and color guard, and was named Most Outstanding High School Band Student, an award Paxton called “long overdue.” Brianna was a four-year band member and was in jazz band; she participated in color guard and was selected for North Area Honors Band but couldn’t participate due to her Snow Queen obligations; Brianna received the Wilbur Hofer Family Band Award. Music standout Angela Guthmiller was the Drum Major for the Sully Buttes Marching Band two years, and was praised by Paxton for her “excellent leadership and keeping the band in line – literally.” She was a four year member of the band and jazz band, was in the color guard, and was selected to All-State Band two years. Had All-State Band not been canceled, she would have sat first chair among the Alto Saxophones in the Lewis Band. Angela sat first chair at North Area Honors Band. The John Phillip Sousa Band Award was presented to Angela.
For the Sully Buttes drama department, advisor Cherie Hill applauded Aspen Heath, Kenean Johnson, and Kari-Anne Lyons, noting Kari-Anne’s and Kenean’s five years performing the One Act Play and Aspen participating four years. “Aspen was a quiet leader who was in the spring play for six years,” said Hill. Kenean was recognized with the Step-It-Up Award and was in the spring play two years. “Kari-Anne brought a lot of enthusiasm to the drama department,” said Hill. “She was to have served as assistant director for the spring play as part of her Senior Capstone had the play not been canceled.” Kari-Anne was in the spring play six years. “All the seniors will be greatly missed,” said Hill.
Yearbook advisor Brielle Bohle pondered whether the ‘See it in a new perspective’ theme for the Sully Buttes 2020 Yearbook wasn’t a foreshadowing of the COVID-19 pandemic. “This wasn’t a typical year, and it won’t be a typical yearbook,” said Bohle. “Every single senior in yearbook stepped up and banded together to make sure the book is done,” said Bohle. “I will really miss this group – they have a good eye for design.” The editorial board was made up of seniors Kendra Kleven, Avery Weinheimer, and Kenean Johnson. Lettering in yearbook was Taylor Christ, Aspen Heath, Angela Guthmiller, Kendra Kleven, Kenean Johnson, and Avery Weinheimer. Tatyana Ferguson received a certificate of participation for her photography contributions.
Three seniors, Kendra Kleven, Jett Lamb, and Grant Johnson were members of the Student Council, with Wanda Meyer as advisor. “As Student Council President, Kendra really took control,” said Meyer. Kendra was joined by senior class president Jett Lamb “who showed the underclassmen how it’s done” in serving on the student council four years. Grant Johnson was a two-year student council member who was the “voice of reason. I really enjoyed knowing and working with them,” said Meyer about the seniors. “Thanks for your leadership, good luck, and do us proud.”
According to National Honor Society advisor Hayley Miller, more than half of Sully Buttes’ NHS membership will be lost when the seniors graduate. “They’re known for their achievements on the field and on the court, but I don’t think anyone realizes how much the seniors will be missed for their leadership in the classroom and academically,” said Miller. Trunk-or-Treat, the Angel Tree, a bake sale, and the student led blood drive were all activities of the NHS. Graduating with blue and gold ropes, the NHS stole, and the NHS medallion will be Brianna Fanger, Grant Johnson, Angela Guthmiller, Jett Lamb, Kendra Kleven, Shalie Weinheimer, and Avery Weinheimer. “Their leadership will be missed. I wish them luck.”
Mary Jo Stier advised the students who organized the Vitalent blood drive on March 30. Students who worked during the drive, provided snacks, or donated blood will wear the Hero Life Giver red cord. “Thank you for your blood donations,” said Stier. Ten seniors stepped up and will receive the award: Angela Guthmiller, Jett Lamb, Kendra Kleven, Quinn Jordre, Grant Johnson, Kenean Johnson, Brianna Fanger, Aspen Heath, Avery Weinheimer, and Shalie Weinheimer. “Keep donating,” said Stier. “Our blood drive really shows the importance of giving blood, especially since there was a shortage of blood due to the pandemic.”
Sully Buttes Guidance Counselor Kris Sweeter noted the excellence the members of the Class of 2020 have exhibited in their extra-curricular activities, but said they are “blowing it out of the water” in academics. For earning a 3.0 or greater with no D’s or F’s in the last five semesters, Jack Darling, Brianna Fanger, Angela Guthmiller, Aspen Heath, Grant Johnson, Kendra Kleven, Jett Lamb, Kari-Anne Lyons, Avery Weinheimer, Shalie Weinheimer, and Nick Wittler received academic awards. Jack, Brianna, Angela, Aspen, Grant, Kendra, Jett, Avery, Shalie, and Nick will wear the gold honor cord at graduation. The citizenship award from the Daughters of the American Revolution was awarded to Angela.
The Valedictorian and Salutatorian have not yet been named because the school year is not yet over. “It’s a tight race with several students in the running,” said Chicoine
Sully Buttes sports players received awards in athletics.
Chicoine named the recipients of the following awards: Mark Heien Wrestling Award – Kash Weischedel; David Pullman Memorial Basketball Award – Allyson Wittler and Jesse Schall; Sutera Family Outstanding Female Athlete Award – Kendra Kleven; and the Dan Hyde Memorial Football and Basketball Award – Nick Wittler.
Speaking about her team, Cross Country Coach Mary Sieck praised Quinn Jordre for his quiet leadership. “Quinn runs hard all the time and works hard,” said Sieck.
Senior cheerleaders Aspen Heath and Shalie Weinheimer were members of both the football and boys basketball cheer squads. Cheer Coach Jackie Aspelin presented them with Outstanding Leader Awards as squad co-captains for football. For the Boys Basketball cheer squad, Aspen was named Outstanding Leader and Shalie Most Dedicated Cheerleader. “Aspen and Shalie are wonderful leaders,” said Aspelin. “Aspen was a bit superstitious – we kept seeing the say cheer every time, and if we could have gone to the State B Tournament, we would have seen it there.” Aspelin also praised the seniors for their ability to communicate and creativity in selecting unique dress up themes.
Eight members of the Class of 2020 were on the Sully Buttes football team: Manager Quinn Jordre, Statisticians Brianna Fanger and Angela Guthmiller, Running Back/Linebacker Tryston Ogle (out for the season due to injury), Quarterback/Defensive Back Nick Wittler, Offensive Lineman/Linebacker Jack Darling; Tight End/Defensive Back Grant Johnson, and Offensive Lineman/Defensive Lineman Jett Lamb. Sully Buttes Chargers Head Football Coach Mark Senftner thanked coaches Moore, White, and Minnihan for their roles in the team’s success and praised the seniors for their “big impact on the program from the first day of practice.” Grant, Jett, Angela and Brianna received the South Dakota Football Coaches Academic All-State nod; Grant, Jack, Jett and Nick were named to the YTC All-Conference Team; Grant Jett and Nick were named to the Aberdeen American News All Area Team; Midco Sports Network singled out Grant and Nick for Player of the Week recognition and they will each receive a football for earning the Player of the Week designation; Jett and Nick were named Argus Leader Elite-45 and Grant received Honorable Mention; Grant as Wide Receiver, Jett as Offensive Lineman, and Nick as Quarterback were named to the 9A All-State Team; Midco Sports Network named Nick Player of the Year and awarded Jett Honorable Mention.
Kendra Kleven and Gabby McQuirk were the senior leaders on the Sully Buttes Girls Basketball Team, also coached by Mark Senftner, who opened his remarks regarding the Girls Basketball season by thanking Assistant Coach Susie Rilling for her dedication to the girls team and the program. Senftner praised Gabby for her leadership commitment to do what was needed in practice and in games and lifted up Kendra for the multiple roles she played and for being a team member he could count on to make game winning plays. Kendra was named to the YTC All-Conference Team, the Aberdeen American News All Area Team, was selected to play in the 3-Class shootout which was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and received Academic All-State recognition from the South Dakota Basketball Coaches Association.
Head Volleyball Coach Brielle Bohle thanked her team for giving her a fun year, her first as head coach, and thanked Assistant Coach Brittney Hockenbary. There were five seniors on the Chargers Volleyball team, Statistician Gabby McQuirk, videographer Kari-Anne Lyons, Libero Kiley McGee, Middle Hitter Kendra Kleven, and Middle Hitter Angela Guthmiller. “This was an outstanding group of seniors who fostered a young, inexperienced team,” said Bohle. Kendra and Angela received Academic All-State recognition. Selected by her team mates, Angela was named Most Valuable Player. Kiley, Kendra, and Angela were all elected first team for the YTC Conference. “This year, Kiley moved into the libero position, said Bohle. “She was 89% serving and had over 100 digs and showed tremendous leadership on and off the court.” Kendra was named Offensive Player of the Year. Bohle noted Kendra had led the team in Aces with 44. “She was 94% serving, led the team in hitting percentage, had 159 kills, and had the second most assists – really an overall smart player.” Awarding Angela Defensive Player of the Year, Bohle said she “had the highest serves received, 200 digs, and led the team in blocks with 28—13 solo blocks and 15 assisted.”
Quinn Jordre, Grant Johnson, Jett Lamb, Nick Wittler, Jack Darling, and statistician Brianna Fanger were the seniors on the Sully Buttes Boys Basketball team led by Head Coach Brian White. White offered praise to assistant coaches Lee Kinney and Jesse Wittler for their work and commended Brianna for being the team’s “unsung hero” for her four years as statistician. White noted that Brianna was joined by Grant, Jett, and Nick in being named to the Academic All-State team. Jack was lauded for being a “glue guy who did whatever was needed to win.” White commented that Quinn had “worked his butt off during the season,” and related his excitement in seeing Quinn’s comeback success after being injured last year. Quinn received YTC All Conference Honorable Mention. “Grant was a coach’s dream,” said White. “He didn’t care if he scored, but he could, and was assigned to guard the opponents’ best player.” Grant was named to the YTC All-Conference Second Team. Five-year letter winners Jett and Nick were both named to the YTC All-Conference First Team. Nick was additionally named to the First Team-All State, the Aberdeen American News All Area Team, was a Mr. Basketball finalist, and had earned 1616 points by the end of his high school career. “I believe this puts him in the top five all-time for scoring at Sully Buttes,” said White. “He would have had a chance to get to 1700 had COVID not stopped us from playing in the state tournament.”
White continued his commentary by noting that the five seniors had been “playing together forever,” racking up 86 wins and 14 losses during their high school playing career, appearing four times in the state tournament and winning a championship in the 2017-18 season. “We would have had a great shot at winning this year,” said White. “It’s very disappointing we didn’t get the opportunity.”
Waxing nostalgic, White said he’d miss the senior players and applauded everything they’d done as a group. “You have accumulated a 130-20 combined basketball and football record, gone to the Dome two times, and had multiple state track qualifiers with Jett winning the championship in shotput last year. He probably would have repeated if the season hadn’t been canceled.”
Chicoine closed the awards program by saying, “Keep up the great work. I wish you the best in the future. And to quote Mrs. Senftner, I hope you’ll always think it’s great to be a Sully Buttes Charger.”