BOTKINS — The Botkins Education Foundation recently held its second annual awards banquet at the Palazzo in Botkins. BEF President Fritz Serr said the evening’s success was attributable to the support of the community, a support that is very much appreciated.
Roger Geyer, a 1967 Botkins Alumnus and scheduled keynote speaker, was unable to attend. Roger’s brother, Rick, stepped in and presented a history of his big brother’s career accomplishments from growing up on the grain and dairy farm; building a solid foundation as a result of attending Botkins Local School and living in the Botkins Community; receiving a sports scholarship enabling him to go to college; then moving into a very rewarding Information Technology and Computer Systems Field long before the rest of the world had a clue as to the doors this field would open.
At this year’s banquet there were over 40 scholarships awarded totaling nearly $30,000 in scholarship money. Grace Weatherhead was the recipient of the Botkins Education Foundation $1,000 scholarship.
Another highlight of the evening was the induction of two Wall of Honor nominees, Audrey Pitts and Steve Van Horn.
Audrey Pitts, longtime educator, received the posthumous award for her many contributions to BHS throughout her 34 years there. Audrey dedicated her life to the students that she taught. She was a proponent of women competing sports long before girls’ athletics were recognized as official school sports. Audrey Pitts’ most notable and lasting contribution to the students of Botkins Local School was when she established the Botkins Chapter 8454 of the National Honor Society. The Wall of Honor Award was accepted by her children Dan Pitts, Kathy Klima, and Lee Pitts.
Also inducted to the Wall of Honor, Command Master Chief (SEAL) Steven Van Horn was present to address the graduates and others in attendance. Steve joined the US Navy and after two years applied for, entered and completed the BUD/S training program in Coronado, California, and became a U.S. Navy SEAL. He initially served in SEAL Team Two, and was eventually promoted to and became a key leader of SEAL Team Six. He served his country for 30 years retiring in 2016. Van Horn became, by far, the most decorated veteran in the history of Shelby County. He received more than 65 combat awards. These include the Legion of Merit Awards, the Silver Star and five Bronze Stars with Valor and one Bronze Star with Valor and Extraordinary Heroism.
Over 240 Community members, students, parents, and guests were in attendance.