OLEAN — At times during Monday night’s Big 30 Academic Scholarship Banquet, parents were just as much in the spotlight as their high-achieving children.

The event’s keynote speaker, St. Bonaventure University President Dr. Dennis DePerro, told students to not only thank their parents for their support these last four years of high school, but also remind them they’ll continue to need their support during the next four years of college.

And to the parents, DePerro stressed being patient and remembering their children are undergoing big changes.

“Everything that you’ve done to support them, these next four years you’ll need to support them even more,” he said.

Students and parents alike received congratulations as well as advice for the future at the 30th annual dinner, which recognizes a senior “academic all-star” from each of the 33 school districts in the Olean Times Herald’s sports coverage area, known as the Big 30.

Sponsored by the Times Herald and Big 30-area principals, the event has bestowed more than $60,000 in scholarships over the last three decades and another six students received $750 Big 30 scholarships Monday night at the Bartlett Country Club.

As is tradition, one of last year’s scholarship winners also gave an address.

Katharina Heitzman, a 2018 Pioneer High School graduate, told both students and parents what she’s learned from her freshman year at St. Bonaventure University. She said while students might think freedom from their parents means late nights and parties, they’ll quickly learn college is a bit more complicated than that.

“Work piles up just about as quickly as you can do it,” she said. “So all the parents out there — rest easy. College is not just parties. It’s so much more.”

Heitzman told seniors that college is “a place to grow and become an adult.”

“Learn to make decisions on your own, and be proud and accountable for those decisions,” she said.

Noting all the responsibility that comes with college, DePerro said he’s tried his best to accommodate his own college-age sons’ lifestyles — even if that means taking their weekly phone call well past his own bedtime on a Sunday night.

He said it’s important to support college students so that once they graduate, they can “make a difference in our world.”

He told students that despite what they’ve been told, college won’t be the best four years of their life. Instead, he said college will be “four great years that will prepare you for a fantastic life.”

“Grab a hold of that opportunity,” DePerro continued, “and make a difference. Make a difference in our world.”

The six students to receive scholarships, which are based on everything from academics to community service, were Alannah Allen of Scio Central School; Abigail Anderson of Northern Potter (Pa.) Junior-Senior High School; Kaylyn Chadwick of Randolph Junior-Senior School; Carmen Mancuso of Fillmore Central School; Hira Mirza of Olean High School; and Christine Pagett of Portville Junior-Senior High School.

Other members of the 2019 Big 30 Academic All-Stars are: Alice Li of Allegany-Limestone Middle-High School; Leah Simon of Andover Central School; Alexus Fisk of Archbishop Walsh Academy; Noah Leightley of Austin (Pa.) Area Junior-Senior High School; Adam Enders of Belfast Central School; Hannah Clark of Bolivar-Richburg Junior-Senior High School; Clare Mulcahy of Bradford (Pa.) Area High School; Kamme Guisto of Cameron County (Pa.) High School; Lauren Eaton of Cattaraugus-Little Valley High School; Garrett Watson of Coudersport (Pa.) Area Junior-Senior High School; Rebekah Clark of Cuba-Rushford Middle-High School; Louisa Benatovich of Ellicottville Middle-High School; Austin Musselwhite of Friendship Central School; Shaquay Ely of Genesee Valley Central School; Jordan Sands of Hinsdale Central School; Abbi Johnson of Johnsonburg (Pa.) Area Junior-Senior High School; Alysha Biel of Kane (Pa.) Area High School; Erynn Dickerson of Oswayo Valley (Pa.) Middle-High School; Andrew Sheeler of Otto-Eldred (Pa.) Junior-Senior High School; Maxwell Hughes of Pioneer High School; Betty Hooftallen of Port Allegany (Pa.) Junior-Senior High School; Lacie Cherry of Ridgway (Pa.) Middle-High School; Nyles Panus of Salamanca High School; Emily Gustafson of Smethport (Pa.) Area Junior-Senior High School; Alyssa Kear of Wellsville Secondary School; Rachel Frascella of West Valley Central School; and Allyson Waters of Whitesville Central School.

(Contact reporter Tom Dinki at tdinki@oleantimesherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @tomdinki)

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