After a few years in a bit of a hiatus, the Oakdale Junior High School Distinguished Service Award is back in action.
First started upon completion of the new school gym close to two decades ago, the annual award was started in lieu of naming the building after one notable individual.
According to current OJHS Principal Catherine Medlin, the Superintendent of Schools at the time felt it would be better to honor an educator, as well as a citizen at the conclusion of each school year on a perpetual plaque.
Sadly, the tradition somehow went by the wayside since the 2010-2011 school year. Somewhere in between then and now, Medlin shared that longtime community member and volunteer Phyllis Bordona had brought the plaque to the attention of former OJHS Principal Jon Webb.
During that time, the two came up with five names of recipients to be honored. Then that, too, somehow failed to come to fruition.
Fortunately, Bordona followed up with the campus yet again and in so doing, current Principal Medlin had the names placed on the perpetual plaque, as well as individual plaques made for each recipient.
One of the five names, Pam Antinetti, was added for Educator recognition in the 2010-2011 year. The remaining four names are: Jack Walker and Joyce Reed, for Educators and Melinda Owen and Barbara Marquis for Citizen. The year of acknowledgement for those four recipients is 2021-2022.
Due to time constraints, no formal presentation of the five plaques has been planned. Either Bordona or Medlin plan to present the plaques to the individuals or their families.
“I didn’t really want to go back and try to fill in those dates,” Principal Medlin said of the 2011 to 2021 gap. “It seemed like it wouldn’t be authentic, like where did this stop and start.”
Beginning with the 2022-2023 school year, the current principal intends on continuing the tradition as it was originally envisioned, with the plaque being hung up in the gym.
“We wanted to make sure they had it and are acknowledged with it,” Medlin added of the past due acknowledgements.
As for the selection process, the principal shared for the Citizen honoree, it’s important to look for someone who has contributed and done things to help the community. As for the Educator, she said it’s ideal to select individuals who have been at the Oakdale schools and had input; people who have influenced the arts, sports and or academics.
“I think what’s good about that, is the fluidness of that is we don’t just stick in one genre,” Medlin shared of the diversity in selection. “We’re not going to see only sports or only coaches. What I’d like to see are people who have been a part of this district for numerous years and have lots of different lives that they’ve touched because of their presence.”