Blair County President Judge Jolene G. Kopriva, who through her daily work sees pain, trauma and people who have made poor decisions, said she was refreshed to see students who represent hope and promise for the future.
The Altoona Mirror's "20 under 20" Class of 2014 was celebrated Tuesday with a luncheon and awards presentation at The Casino at Lakemont Park. Kopriva was the guest speaker. It is the third annual class of 20 high school students recognized for academics, engagement in arts and community service.
Two students were selected to receive scholarships from the program's sponsors.
Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich
Award and scholarship winner Nicholas Frank, a senior at Altoona Area High School, checks out poster-sized photos of those honored before the luncheon on Tuesday.
Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich
Award winners Emily O’Donnell, an Altoona Area High School junior, and Jared Peterman, an AAHS senior, mug it up with each other’s poster photos after the 20 Under 20 Awards Banquet.
Jessica Brumbaugh, a Hollidaysburg Area High School senior, gasped when her name was called.
"It's awesome because I've worked really hard," she said. "I've done lots of things with arts at school and community service. It's rewarding to see it come together and be recognized."
Kopriva, as the first elected female judge in Blair County and the county's first female president judge, inspired Brumbaugh.
Derek Arnold, Altoona Area
Taylor Baum, Hollidaysburg Area
Jamey Brumbaugh, Bishop Guilfoyle
Jessica Brumbaugh, Hollidaysburg Area
Lynnea Burr, Bellwood-Antis
Nicholas Frank, Altoona Area
Olivia Gailey, Bellwood-Antis
Mallory Harold, Bellwood-Antis
Carley Ingold, Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School
John Johnson, Hollidaysburg Area
Noah Katcher, Altoona Area
Colter Long, Hollidaysburg Area
Mace Long, Hollidaysburg Area
Emily O'Donnell, Altoona Area
Noah Over, Northern Bedford County
Jennifer Patterson, Bishop Guilfoyle
Jared Peterman, Altoona Area
Michaela Schreyer, Cambria Heights
Brendan Trybus, Bishop Guilfoyle
Rachel Walter, Claysburg-Kimmel
"I really enjoyed Judge Kopriva's speech," she said. "Although I am a woman, she is proof that you can really push out there. She represents leadership and how we are slowly coming to a time when women are becoming equal to men in society."
Brumbaugh was nominated to be a member of the 20 under 20 by Janelle Weaver and school counselor Erin Stroz. Brumbaugh plans to attend Penn State University to major in visual arts and minor in graphic design.
Nicholas Frank, a senior at Altoona Area High School, also received a scholarship. He was nominated by school board member Maryanne Joyce Bistline.
"It feels so amazing. Really," he said. "I've worked hard in my academics and community service for a huge chunk of my life."
All 20 students and their families listened to speeches from Kopriva, Mirror Publisher Ed Kruger and Mirror General Manager Advertising Ray Eckenrode.
"I thought they were very thought-provoking and rang very true," Frank said.
The speakers related messages of the students' roles in a fast-moving world.
Kopriva spoke about achieving long-term happiness and not to orient their future solely toward making money.
"Though the world is radically different from the time I was your age, the real test of success hasn't changed," she said. "As long as you work to make the world a better place and explore the mission of your heart, you will have the weapons against pessimism, depression, addiction and loneliness."
Eckenrode quoted the movie "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," saying, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."
"It's advice for all of us to slow down the pace and read, write, dream, reflect. It's in that time with yourself that leadership is born," Eckenrode said.
Kruger opened with a speech about the life lessons found in the book of Proverbs, written by King Solomon, a man who asked God for an understanding heart to judge fairly and was not concerned with wealth or the length of his life.
"Without your obvious intellect, work ethic and talent, you wouldn't be here," Kruger told the 20 under 20 class. "In Proverbs, you find the virtues of understanding, liberality, domestic faithfulness and honesty in business affairs."
Anne Benzel, a member of the selection committee, said it was a daunting task to select the 20 under 20 class. The committee received 110 biographies resulting from 140 nominations representing 22 school districts.
The committee read the biographies without knowing the corresponding names of the students.
The presenting sponsor of the 20 under 20 program is McLanahan Corp. Additional community sponsors are Benzel's, Blair Companies, The Hite Company, the Lung Disease Center of Central Pennsylvania, NPC Print & electronic document solutions, P&J Productions and Sheetz.