Get our free mobile app

Earlier this year I was told and invited to an event that was to honor the "Top 50 Plus" in the Big Country. While I had heard about the Top 50 Plus awards I was still a little in the dark about this group of young Big Country high school students.

The Southwest Rotary Club has this banquet every year to honor the top 50+ students in our area schools. However, to bring to light what these awards are all about and who all is eligible and what needs to be done to win one of the Top 50 Plus Awards.

We'll go back to March 3rd of 1960 when the very first Southwest Rotary Club held its first dinner awards banquet. What the Abilene Southwest Rotary Club was starting to do was to honor the top 50 academic students at the only high school in Abilene at that time which was Abilene High.

Oil millionaire Chester "Chet" Lauck was the Rotary Club's first guest speaker.

The first banquet was held at the Windsor Hotel and the featured speaker was Chester H. "Chet" Lauck who happened to be the president of the Continental Oil Company. The students were all honored with a certificate and some local college scholarships.

Fast forward to 1962 when Abilene was now a two-high school town. That's when the top 25 academic Abilene High students and the top 25 academic Cooper High School students made up the Top 50 Plus.

It continued with the Top 50 being split in half between Abilene High and Cooper High until 1981. That's when the Rotary Club decided to add to the list Bringing Wylie High School and Abilene Christian High School into the awards presentation.

By now the Southwest Rotary Club is changing its name to the "Top 50 Plus" awards banquet, honoring more than just fifty academically superior students. Today The awards include all the schools in Taylor County.

I was blown away by the fact that this organization reached out to all the schools within the county to award students with scholarships. So, who are the Top 50+ that get scholarships from the Southwest Rotary Club of Abilene? They come from the schools listed below all in Taylor County.

By 2012 the students from the Premier High School were added, and ATEMS was added in 2013. The complete list of schools that are recognized and honored are:

  1. Abilene High School
  2. Cooper High School
  3. Wylie High School
  4. Abilene Christian High School
  5. Premier High School
  6. ATEMS
  7. Merkel High School
  8. Jim Ned High School
  9. Trent High School

The percentage of graduating seniors in 1960 was only 9% today the percentage of graduating seniors is only 5%, and it's more difficult to make the Top 50 Plus.

The Southwest Rotary Club says that they raised even more money this year and today the Club is making a presentation of additional funds to certain schools throughout the county. Here's how the monies will be distributed later today:

  1.   Abilene Education Foundation $2250.00
  2. Wylie Education Foundation $2250.00
  3. AISD Homeless Ministry $2000.00
  4. Mentors Care / Wylie HS $2000.00
  5. Abilene Philharmonic Assoc.
  6. Youth Outreach $1000.00
  7. Texas Trails Cub Scout Pack 260 $ 500.00
  8. Abilene Public Library $ 500.00

30 famous people you might not know were college athletes

Stacker dug deep to find 30 celebrities who were previously college athletes. There are musicians, politicians, actors, writers, and reality TV stars. For some, an athletic career was a real, promising possibility that ultimately faded away due to injury or an alternate calling. Others scrapped their way onto a team and simply played for fun and the love of the sport. Read on to find out if your favorite actor, singer, or politician once sported a university jersey.