• Long Beach Breeze

American Legion honors students, educators

By Dom Fimiano


Each year, the Long Beach American Legion and the American Legion Auxiliary Post 1995 honor students, educators and academic counselors at the Long Beach High School awards ceremony. Student awards are presented to the valedictorian and salutatorian for their academic achievements, the American Legion Girls and Boys State delegates receive recognition for their selection to attend summer leadership programs, and educators and counselors receive medals and certificates for their commitment and success working with students.


Educator of the Year Robert Acosta (left) and Ray Chavaree from Post 1995 (right).
Educator of the Year Robert Acosta (left) and Ray Chavaree from Post 1995 (right).

The Long Beach High School Educator of the Year, Robert Acosta, was selected by peers and administrators for his exemplary dedication to instruction, development and mentorship of students. Acosta is a biology and zoology teacher who instills a desire for learning in students.


Pictured (l to r) are American Legion Auxiliary Post 1995 President Margaret Levens, Counselor of the Year Connie Tucker, Post 1995 Adjutant Kevin McKenzie, and Counselor of the Year Rachel Lacey
Pictured (l to r) are American Legion Auxiliary Post 1995 President Margaret Levens, Counselor of the Year Connie Tucker, Post 1995 Adjutant Kevin McKenzie, and Counselor of the Year Rachel Lacey

The Counselors of the Year, Connie Tucker and Rachel Lacy, were selected for their dedication to students. Their guidance enables students to set realistic obtainable goals that nurture academic success and rewarding careers.


2nd Vice Commander of Post 1995 Tina O’Shields with Long Beach High School valedictorian Hailey Smith.
2nd Vice Commander of Post 1995 Tina O’Shields with Long Beach High School valedictorian Hailey Smith.

Valedictorian Hailey Smith plans to attend the University of Mississippi and study biology, biochemistry and political science. Smith is a distinguished Eminent Scholar.


Her academic achievements include a 5.53 weighted GPA and a composite score of 34 on the ACT. She plans to become an environmental scientist working in research. Smith says her long-term goals are to improve environmental regulations and laws collaborating with legislators. In addition to all of Smith’s academic success, she has time to be a successful entrepreneur while participating in leadership roles in many academic and community organizations. Smith thanked the Long Beach School District’s teachers and staff for providing an excellent educational environment for student success.


 2nd Vice Commander of Post 1995 Tina O’Shields with Long Beach High School salutatorian Luke Salisbury
2nd Vice Commander of Post 1995 Tina O’Shields with Long Beach High School salutatorian Luke Salisbury

Salutatorian Luke Salisbury plans to attend Mississippi State University and study mechanical engineering. Salisbury states his plan is to own an engineering firm after gaining valuable experience working for several years with other engineers.


His 35 composite score on the ACT earned him the honor of being named Long Beach High School’s STAR Student, and his academic success earned him the distinguished honor of being a National Merit Scholar.


Girls State delegates Christina Strahan, Rowan Sanzin and Anna Mayeux, American Legion Auxiliary Post 1995 President Margaret Levens, and delegates Kennedy Kunitz and Jean Claire King.
Girls State delegates Christina Strahan, Rowan Sanzin and Anna Mayeux, American Legion Auxiliary Post 1995 President Margaret Levens, and delegates Kennedy Kunitz and Jean Claire King.

American Legion Auxiliary Girls State delegates are Jane Claire King, Kennedy Kuntz, Anna Mayeaux, Rowan Sanzin and Christina Strahan. American Legion Boys State delegates are David Blake Anderson, Hayes Johnson, Stokley Sawyer and Caleb Solangi. School counselors select the Boys and Girls State delegates for their leadership potential. All delegates are juniors transitioning into their senior year who express an interest in attending the weeklong summer camp held at a Mississippi university. The American Legion delegates take part in civic workshops, which allow delegates to participate as city leaders and experience the roles of elected officials.


Boys State delegates Caleb Solangi and Stokley Sawyer, Ray Chavaree from Post 1995, and delegates Hayes Johnson and David Anderson.
Boys State delegates Caleb Solangi and Stokley Sawyer, Ray Chavaree from Post 1995, and delegates Hayes Johnson and David Anderson.

The purpose for the experience is to instill constructive attitudes toward leadership positions and public service.




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