When Jordan Powers stepped to the podium Friday night at the Southwestern Central School commencement exercises at the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts, it was in recognition of an academic career that earned him the No. 1 ranking among the 127 seniors at SWCS.
Soon after delivering his valedictory address, Powers, who also happens to be an all-state and All-American athlete, was presented the 30th annual Frank Hyde Memorial Scholarship. The $1,000 scholarship is awarded to the outstanding college-bound student/athlete in The Post-Journal's circulation area of Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Warren counties.
Somewhere, Hyde was smiling, because not only did the former Post-Journal sports editor value athletic performance, but he also held in equally high regard achievement in the classroom.
Jordan Powers, valedictorian, is pictured receiving the 30th annual Frank Hyde Scholarship from Michael Cipolla, high school principal. Powers is pictured below participating in track and field.
Powers, the son of Mark and Denise Powers, combined both admirably.
In addition to sporting a nearly 99 average, Powers was involved in numerous extracurricular activities during his high school years, including participating in three varsity sports (cross country, swimming and track and field); membership in the Student Council (where he served as its treasurer); the National Honor Society (where he served as its president); the Chautauqua Striders Track Club (where he was a USATF All-American in the steeplechase); and the YMCA Jets swim team.
Powers also served as a tutor (where he assisted his peers in Regents biology and geometry); donated his time as a bell ringer for the Salvation Army during the holidays; helped raise funds by participating in the Cystic Fibrosis walk; and was a lifeguard at the Jamestown YMCA and the Lakewood beach.
"In short," said Southwestern High School principal Michael Cipolla in his letter of recommendation, "Jordan is one of those special individuals who has the qualities, skills, commitment and character to do almost anything that he desires."
Powers will attend Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa., where he will major in biology.
"This is the first step in my ultimate goal of becoming a doctor," he wrote in his essay accompanying his scholarship application. "I want to become a doctor because I want a career where I directly impact people and can help change their lives for the better."
The lessons Powers learned by virtue of his sports participation should serve him well in college. In addition to participating at state meets in cross country, swimming, and track and field, Powers also placed fourth in the 2,000-meter steeplechase at the USATF Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships in Greensboro, N.C. last July.
That made him an All-American.
"His performances have made him one of the best track athletes in Southwestern history," Trojans coach Fran Sirianni said. "He holds the school record in the 400 intermediate hurdles as well as being one of the top 10 athletes in three other events."
Beyond the athletic successes, Powers has other important attributes.
"Jordan has a family structure that personifies support," Sirianni said. "His father and mother have developed a positive respect and character fiber in him."
Past winners of the Hyde Scholarship are: 1985, Steve Penhollow, Cassadaga Valley; 1986, Rich Crane, Sherman; 1987, Nancy Dornsife, Randolph; 1988, Mary Mansfield, Pine Valley; 1989, Jackson Rohm, Southwestern; 1990, Pam Crowell, Pine Valley; 1991, Cory Emory, Sherman; 1992, Ken Davenport, Falconer; 1993, Jennifer Tate, Falconer; 1994, Justin Johnson, Jamestown; 1995, Andy McMaster, Jamestown; 1996, Patrick Swanson, Sherman; 1997, Adam Beckerink, Frewsburg; 1998, Matthew Baideme, Westfield; 1999, Leigh Baumgart, Falconer; 2000, Craig Swanson, Jamestown; 2001, Trevor Cable, Frewsburg; 2002, Kathy Baum, Ripley; 2003, Ashley Kulju, Maple Grove; 2004, Rob Prinzi, Jamestown; 2005, Matt Mazgaj, Southwestern; 2006, Natalie Thorpe, Southwestern; 2007, Michael McGinnis, Falconer; 2008, Nicole Frederickson, Jamestown; 2009, Jennifer Andrews, Randolph; 2010, Mallory Deuink, Clymer; 2011, Joey Campion, Jamestown; 2012, Shannon Murphy, Falconer; and 2013, Zachary Eklum, Jamestown.