McKinney ISD Board of Trustees President Bobby Amick speaks at the 2017 MISD Distinguished Student Awards Dinner on Thursday, May 4.

When McKinney ISD Superintendent Dr. Rick McDaniel approached the podium on Thursday, May 4 at Eldorado Country Club for the 2017 Distinguished Student Awards Dinner, he addressed an assemblage of 45 of the district’s finest students from McKinney Boyd High School, McKinney High School and McKinney North High School.

“Tonight’s Distinguished Student Awards ceremony is a celebration of everything that is good about McKinney ISD,” McDaniel told the audience. “We honor you students who have earned the highest level of recognition at the end of your elementary and secondary school years, and we honor the parents, teachers and administrators who have helped influence you along the way.

“The McKinney ISD Distinguished Student Award is the highest honor bestowed upon a student in our school district. This is a special night, indeed.”

Honorees were chosen not only for academic excellence, McDaniel pointed out, but also for demonstrating character, integrity and selflessness at each of their campuses.

Yet, while the students happened to be the primary focus of the evening, each of them had an opportunity to turn the spotlight on a particular teacher who made a difference.

“Each student was asked to select the teacher who made the most significant impact on his or her life,” McDaniel explained. “These dedicated teachers will be honored this evening with the McKinney ISD Inspirational Teacher Award.”

As each student was called to the stage, he or she was accompanied by his or her Inspirational Teacher while the student’s remarks about the teacher were piped through the P.A.

Describing him as “an impeccable role model” and someone who demonstrated “what it takes to be a respected individual,” Khalil Lewis chose current McKinney North Assistant Principal David Moliere as his Inspirational Teacher.

Lewis, the recipient of a Distinguished Student Award in the area of Athletics, first encountered Moliere in freshman biology class. He wrote that, from Moliere, he learned the importance of “fairness, character and truth and how that correlates to widespread admiration and respect across the entire school.” This fall, Lewis will head to the University of Pennsylvania to study pre-med and play football.

For Moliere, being honored in such a way helped validate his work. “When Khalil told me that he chose me as an Inspirational Teacher, I was simply happy to be remembered by him as his biology teacher. But, when I read the words he used to describe me, I was so grateful to know the work being done by the Lord through me on campus is not hidden.”

McKinney Boyd Salutatorian Lexi Thorson enjoyed the evening and deeply appreciated the recognition—but also relished the opportunity to recognize her Inspirational Teacher, Robin Lakey.

“I had an incredible time!” Thorson said. “It was such an honor to be selected for recognition by the district and even more of an honor to be able to recognize and thank our amazing teachers for everything they do. Because we spend part of every day with them, our Inspirational Teachers become almost like family. The DSA ceremony celebrated that unique bond. It was a perfect way to wrap up senior year, and I am so grateful to MISD for organizing such a fun, special event!”

For the parents in attendance, there was much to be proud of, and Millie Stuessy is certainly no exception. Her daughter, Nicole, who received a Distinguished Student Award in the At-Large category, is headed to the University of Texas to study journalism and possesses a resume of high school journalism achievements that includes 79 individual awards and three years as a state competitor in journalism—among other accomplishments.

But, for Stuessy, the evening was about even more than that.

“Besides seeing my daughter recognized and honored for her work,” Stuessy said, “the most wonderful part of the evening was seeing so many young women and men that we have known throughout our years in McKinney get recognized for their achievements, too. It was like a big reunion—students, teachers, parents and administrators—from all over the city coming together to celebrate.

“Volunteering over the years allowed me to meet many of the Distinguished Students and teachers, and incredible things are happening in our district every day,” she said.

Indeed, Millie.


The 2017 Distinguished Students and their Inspirational Teachers:

McKinney Boyd High School
Madison Johnson (English)—Inspirational Teacher: Jennifer Bennett.
Austin Williams (Science)—Inspirational Teacher: Dr. David Hodum
Andrew Riding (Social Studies)—Inspirational Teacher: Colin Bado
Aidan O'Brien (Math)—Inspirational Teacher: Jennifer Hamlett
Mikensi Bryant (CTE)—Inspirational Teacher: Alice Ellenburg
Cole O'Neill (Foreign Language)—Inspirational Teacher Joshua Volenik
Morgan Dworshak (Fine Arts)—Inspirational Teacher: Caris Dunn
Tyler Kuehn (Fine Arts)—Inspirational Teacher: Joe Nunez
Luke Rogers (Fine Arts)—Inspirational Teacher: Michael Link
Francesca Gall (Athletics)—Inspirational Teacher: Joshua Tiller
Austin Buley (Athletics)—Inspirational Teacher: Don Drake
Rylie Simmons (At-Large)—Inspirational Teacher: Katie Abel
HD Tolson (At-Large)—Inspirational Teacher: Jennifer Lloyd
Lexi Thorson (Salutatorian)—Inspirational Teacher: Robin Lakey
Nidha Sha (Valedictorian)—Inspirational Teacher: Richard Supak

McKinney High School
Mia Hayes (English)—Inspirational Teacher: Sandra Eiland
Michael Hamilton (Science)—Inspirational Teacher: Katharine Watson
Eleanor Gartstein (Social Studies)—Inspirational Teacher: Mark Bayer
Allison Wu (Math)—Inspirational Teacher: Theresa Horvath
John Millar (CTE)—Inspirational Teacher: Amy Smith
Ryan Culhane (Foreign Language)—Inspirational Teacher: Sandra Dieckman
Morgan Dellow (Fine Arts)—Inspirational Teacher: Cindy Johnston
Alena Horvath (Fine Arts)—Inspirational Teacher: Amy Neely
Kaitlin Oesterreicher (Fine Arts)—Inspirational Teacher: Amanda Hughes
Lindy Patterson (Athletics)—Inspirational Teacher: Keir Burke
Jesse Ardila (Athletics)—Inspirational Teacher: Alan Pocock
Nicole Stuessy (At-Large)—Inspirational Teacher: Alyssa Boehringer
Micha Wallesen (At-Large)—Inspirational Teacher: Richard McGowan
Eric Beights (Salutatorian)—Inspirational Teacher: Robert Gupton
Shuva Gautam (Valedictorian)—Inspirational Teacher: Robert Gupton

McKinney North High School
Payton Jackson (English)—Inspirational Teacher: Scott Henry
Jack DeMarco (Science)—Inspirational Teacher: Faisal Khan
Trinity Vincent (Social Studies)—Inspirational Teacher: Dr. Jean Lake-Brown
Diandria Veals (Math)—Inspirational Teacher: Deanne Pratt
Sarah Taylor (CTE)—Inspirational Teacher: Conor Runge
Riley McFarlane (Foreign Language)—Inspirational Teacher: Chris James
Emily Esail (Fine Arts)—Inspirational Teacher: Hannah Gassett
Kyle Jurovic (Fine Arts)—Inspirational Teacher: Alan Harkey
Rachel Melendez (Fine Arts)—Inspirational Teacher: Margaret Brown
Julia Madubuike (Athletics)—Inspirational Teacher: Jessica Richards
Khalil Lewis (Athletics)—Inspirational Teacher: David Moliere
Daniel Pickering (At-Large)—Inspirational Teacher: Holly Gomez
Erica Tucker (At-Large—Inspirational Teacher: Ty Muennink
Melina Corriveau (Salutatorian)—Inspirational Teacher: Andrew Myers
Mushfequr Rahman (Valedictorian)—Inspirational Teacher: Amber Stephens

For additional information on McKinney ISD, contact Shane Mauldin, MISD Communications Coordinator, at 469-302-4007 or