Have You Ever Wondered How People of the Month Are Chosen at ADM?


People of the Month are chosen for a reason. So what are those reasons?

Going into high school, I had no idea how the People of the Month were picked, and I think it is safe to say many other high school students do not know either. Even after becoming an ADM journalist, who talks to and writes stories for the People of the Month, I still didn’t know how they were all selected.

I talked with News Journalism Adviser Beth Basinger, about these honors. I found out the requirements and the selection process for each of the categories, including how it all works, who sponsors each honor, why recognizing People of the Month is good to do, and some changes that could improve the honors for those who are recognized.

The reasons People of the Month are recognized start with the criteria surrounding the ways students and staff at our school can be selected.

Student of the Month: Seniors with a cumulative, unweighted GPA of at least 3.75 have the opportunity to be selected for Student of the Month.

Basinger coordinates the selection process. High school teachers are sent a form three times a year in August, November, and February to vote for three students they believe have the academic strength, leadership qualities, and involvement in activities to be honored as Student of the Month. The three seniors with the most votes are assigned to the next three months.

After the first semester of the school year, the remaining qualifying students are reevaluated to be sure they still have a GPA of at least 3.75; any students who did not meet this requirement first semester but whose GPA increased to 3.75 or higher are added to the list to have the chance to be chosen. To provide this honor to more students, students cannot be Student of the Month twice, so those chosen for the previous months are taken off of the list for the rest of the year.

Along with having a story written about them by the Black and Redgister news staff, Students of the Month receive a parking spot reserved for them near the high school’s main entrance.

Kiwanis Humanitarian Students of the Month: The name for the Kiwanis Student of the Month award was changed this year to more closely align with the organization’s value of service. They are now called the Kiwanis Humanitarian Students of the Month. This means only seniors who are current with their Humanitarian Cord hours going into their senior year can be chosen, and there is no minimum GPA requirement. This is also reevaluated at semester, so students could be added or subtracted from the list.

The qualifying students are sent by Basinger in a form to the Silver Cord team—Charity Miller, Beth Knipper, Melonie Gill-Carreon, Jennifer Rebel, Jill Harsh, and Lori Mann—every three months in the same manner as the Student of the Month forms. Basinger said these staff members decide which two students are given the recognition for each month based on the idea that the students chosen will continue “living a life of service” even after leaving ADM High School. These students can only be chosen for this honor once with the goal of recognizing many people.

Kiwanis Humanitarian Students of the Month have a story written for them and meet with Kiwanis representatives for breakfast during their month of recognition.

Teachers of the Month: Office assistants Leilani Shaw and Lisa Stark take care of the Teachers of the Month. Throughout each month of the school year (September-May) every student has the opportunity to vote for a teacher. The google form is linked in the daily announcements and sent out to the students occasionally as well to remind students to fill it out.

At the end of each month, the two teachers with the most nominations are given this honor for the following month. Although teachers do not become Teacher of the Month more than once per school year, their name continues to be an option because all of the teachers receive the written responses every month from the forms of the students who nominated them. Additionally, ADM’s news staff write stories to honor the Teachers of the Month.

Athletes of the Month: At the end of a month Basinger sends an email to the coaches of the in-season sports requesting their nominations for the Athletes of the Month. The ADM Scholarship Foundation supports these students by asking businesses to financially sponsor an Athlete of the Month. The money is put toward the scholarships the Foundation gives out each year.

The chosen athletes—one from each sport—can be from any grade and don’t necessarily have to be the people who scored the most points in a game. The parameters for Athlete of the Month are open to anyone; the person chosen could be someone with the most spirit and positivity or a player who works the hardest in practice.

Check out this year’s Athletes of the Month so far by going to the “Feature” tab above.

Fine Arts Students of the Month: Similarly to Athletes of the Month, two Fine Arts Students are picked by the fine arts activity’s teacher. These teachers are emailed by Basinger, asking for their selections.

Each month is dedicated to a different activity. Band director, Russ Braun, gets September to honor two students in marching band. In October, Braun and choir director Becca Cassel each select a student auditioning for All-State band and All-State choir. Molly Longman (English teacher and theater director) recognizes both an onstage and offstage member of Drama each fall in November. December is dedicated to Yearbook and/or Journalism students selected by Basinger (English, Yearbook, and Journalism teacher). January features a jazz band and a jazz choir musician chosen by Braun and Cassel. Math teacher and AcDec sponsor Alix Lifka-Reselman chooses two students from Academic Decathlon for February. Speech members are selected in March by Jacque Seidl, school librarian and Speech coach. April honors an onstage and offstage theatre participant from the spring show by Longman. Lastly, in May, art teacher, Jane Clowser, picks two of her art students to recognize.

The Fine Arts Boosters finds businesses in the area to support the fine arts by sponsoring Fine Arts Students of the Month. The money the Boosters raise goes back to help fund our fine arts activities. These students also receive a story featured on this website.

Students of Character: The six reserved parking spots given out each month to students of any age at the high school are coordinated by Miller. Students can nominate their peers at any time with the form in the daily announcements. The form asks you to identify the character trait (trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, or citizenship) that represents the person you are nominating and why.

People of the Month include students achieving in many different areas of the school: academically, by volunteering, as athletes, in fine arts, and by just being good people. These five ways students have the opportunity to be recognized generate a good variety of students, said Basinger.

She said the new Humanitarian Cord participation requirement for the Kiwanis Students of the Month does focus on a smaller group of students, but at the same time, it adds a “component” to the selection of People of the Month that emphasizes the service characteristic of this group of senior students striving for their Silver Cord.

Same with the Students of the Month. With the requirements of being a senior and the GPA threshold, the group is limited, but in this way, Basinger says it brings attention to how they have “worked for three years for that cumulative GPA, as opposed to a semester.” 

Basinger acknowledged that sometimes students point out that the same few names are chosen frequently throughout each year, but said that just displays those students’ unique contribution to multiple activities. She says it does not mean there is a “shortage” of students, only that those students are very involved.

It does not happen that often, but students also sometimes receive multiple honors in the same month. Usually, the overlap is a student chosen for either Student of the Month or Kiwanis Student of the Month and as an Athlete of the Month. Most likely, someone would not be both Student of the Month and Kiwanis Humanitarian Student of the Month at the same time.

Limiting the repetition of the senior honors (Student of the Month and Kiwanis Humanitarian Student of the Month) could more aptly give the honors out to an array of deserving students to expand the representation of our school.

When I asked Basinger if she thought the students get enough recognition when they receive these honors, she told me about a couple of other ways the students get recognized. At the senior awards ceremony at the end of the school year, Principal Lee Griebel recognizes all of the Students of the Month, and Miller organizes Tiger Awards to honor other traits of students in the senior class for this event as well.

One thing the students who are recognized do not receive is the actual reasons their teachers or coaches nominated them. Basinger told me about 1-2 times per month or season, a coach or teacher might include this in the email along with the nomination.

I believe sharing their sponsor’s thoughts with the students should be a common occurrence, just as teachers receive their nomination messages from their students. When I brought it up to Basinger, she agreed it would be a good addition. 

Basinger could ask why the adult chose their student in the emails she sends out and print out what they say. The News Journalism staff member writing the story would then give it to the student to have. The Students of Character already hear about why they earned their parking spot in the announcements, so the other People of the Month would have the same opportunity to hear the acknowledgments about their positive mark on the school.

This could be a simple, but impactful addition to the People of the Month process that would make the honor more meaningful for the students who were selected. Being chosen shows the students that their involvement is seen by their teachers, coaches, and sponsors, but I think they would feel even more appreciated if they knew the exact qualities their teacher, coach, or sponsor sees in them.

Basinger had the idea of encouraging coaches and sponsors to feature the students on their social media platforms. They could retweet the news staff’s stories, for instance, or create their own post. It might not be a priority or on the top of their list of things to do, said Basinger. Though, even simply letting the entire team know, in the case of an Athlete of the Month, shows the other team members good things that players are doing for the team. It is an honor that should be shared rather than kept to only a few people. 

Something I’ve noticed as a journalist that happens frequently is that the People of the Month, often the athletes and fine arts students, do not know they were picked before we come to them for the story. This makes for a good surprise, however, I think their coach or teacher telling them personally might be a good idea, too.

One last thought I had was adding the fine arts students and athletes to the daily announcements where the other People of the Month are featured. Basinger could easily send a quick email to Shaw and Stark with the names and in a minute they could be on there for the students to see.

“I just think it’s important to recognize people for doing good things,” said Basinger. So, any way a coach, teacher, or sponsor can showcase to the community good things that are going on in our school or in an activity is a chance to do that.

I think with these few, simple tweaks like collecting the teachers’ notes and encouraging sponsors to share, People of the Month will become an even more positive approach to recognizing ADM’s students and staff.

After furthering my learning about People of the Month, I grew to have a greater appreciation for the whole concept. A lot of work goes into People of the Month during the selection process, and the students and teachers themselves put a lot of work into our school and community to even be considered for these honors.

I hope others will also understand better how and why people are picked. If the teacher, coach, and sponsor notes happen next semester, or any of the other small additions, I hope the People of the Month will feel even more valued as a student or teacher here at ADM.