CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - KFVS12 proudly honored approximately 85 of the Heartland's Best Saturday June 2 at a banquet ceremony and recording of area high school valedictorians.
The ceremony was held in the University Center Ballroom on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau.
Corporate sponsors for this year's Heartland's Best are Southeast Missouri State University, Southeast Health, Larry Hillis Dodge, Banterra Bank, Southeast Coalition for Roadway Safety and Burns, Taylor, Heckemeyer & Green, LLC.
Heartland valedictorians and their parents were invited to the ceremony. Students who attended recorded greetings that will be featured in special announcements scheduled to begin on June 11 and air throughout the summer on KFVS12 and WQWQ-TV.
Valedictorians from four states were treated to lunch with featured speakers Jeff Cunningham and Mary-Ann Maloney of KFVS12's Heartland News, along with Dr. Debbie Below, Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management and Director of Admissions for Southeast Missouri State University. Paul Keener, KFVS12's Director of Marketing and Creative Services, served as master of ceremonies.
"I always look forward to the Heartland's Best Banquet," stated Maloney. "It's truly inspiring to meet and honor young people from all over the Heartland who've worked so hard."
Greeting the valedictorians were Dr. Below along with other event sponsors, Mr. Jim Limbaugh, Executive Vice President of Planning and Business Development at Southeast HEALTH; Pete Burns and Steve Taylor of Burns, Taylor, Heckemeyer and Green, LLC; Matt Hillis with Larry Hillis Dodge; and Trooper Clark Parrott, Missouri State Highway Patrol, along with Craig Compas, MoDot District Traffic Engineer and Mark Shelton, MoDOT District Engineer, all representing the Southeast Coalition for Roadway Safety.
"Heartland's Best is one of our signature annual events," said Tim Ingram, KFVS12's Vice President and General Manager. "It involves positive young people who've worked hard to be the best of their class. We hope that by honoring their efforts, we'll help inspire other Heartland students."
Also honored at this year's banquet were 12 of the Heartland's Best Teachers along with their principals. Kathy Sweeney, Lauren Keith, and Carly O'Keefe of KFVS12's Heartland News team introduced each teacher and presented them with a special award.
"The response from the teachers' portion of our Heartland's Best campaign continues to be overwhelming," said Keener. "We feel like teachers are the unsung heroes of these students' success. By honoring the efforts of area teachers, our Heartland's Best program has gone full circle in stressing the importance of education as well as highlighting positive aspects of the system."
Corporate sponsors for the Teachers' portion of the campaign are Cape Girardeau Honda, Banterra Bank and the Law Offices of Aaron Sachs.
This is the 26th anniversary of the Heartland's Best campaign on KFVS12.