■ The League of Women Voters of Lexington has recognized three student winners of its annual essay contest. Amir Abou-Jaoude, a junior at Henry Clay High School, earned first place and a $250 prize. Second place and $150 went to Claire Thompson, a freshman at Henry Clay. Their teacher, Scott Brown, received a $100 honorarium as their mentor.
Devi Upreti, a senior ESL (English as a second language) student at Lafayette High School, received a special recognition award of $100, and her teacher, Tim Mitsumori, was given a $50 honorarium. This honor lauded the extra effort needed to address complex ideas in a second language.
Fayette County students in public and private schools were encouraged to submit essays responding to the following: Regarding the recent surge in unaccompanied children entering the U.S. without proper immigration documents — What is causing the increase? What is our country doing in response? What do you think our government should do to achieve a lasting solution? What would be the intended outcome of your proposal?
"The league sponsors this essay contest to encourage and support student interest in the democratic process," said the nonpartisan group's president, Tammy Fagley. "We want to encourage students to take responsibility as citizens, vote and perhaps run for public office one day."
■ "Sharpie" from Bryan Station Middle School took first place at this semester's SumoBot tournament as seventh-grader Hannah Spencer-Pope used math and engineering skills to build and program an NXT Mindstorm LEGO robot to disable or shove her opponent's robot off a 4-foot circular competition board.
Students and families representing seven schools from Fayette and Franklin counties watched three elementary and 14 middle school teams compete in the double-elimination tournament at Beaumont Middle School on Dec. 13. Bryan Station Middle dominated the field as Isaac Kern was runner-up and the "Robo" team of Caleb Robinson and Griffin Weathers came in third.
SumoBot contests also are scheduled for the STEM Fair on March 14 at Bryan Station High School and at the STLP State Championship on March 26 at Rupp Arena.
■ More than two dozen students earned spirit awards in the annual Fayette County Middle School Cheer and Dance Showcase on Dec. 6 at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School.
Beaumont: Spirit of Cheer, Kennedy Marshall, Spirit of Dance, Lauren Carter; Spirit of Step, Kendall Wright; Spirit of Color Guard, Megan Dryer.
Bryan Station: Cheer (red team), Rosie Collins; Cheer (black team), Arendy Macias; Dance, Destiny Johnson.
Crawford: Cheer, Taylor Mason.
Edythe J. Hayes: Chee, Myann Davidson; Dance, Haley Follmer Burnett.
Jessie Clark: Cheer, Amaiya Lewis; Dance, Natalie Painter.
Leestown: Cheer, Royal Mayes.
Lexington Traditional Magnet: Cheer, Macey Henderson; Dance, Kiana Eads; Step, Queenslyn Boeteny; Hip Hop, Azariah Howard.
Morton: Cheer (A team, Sebastian Geroli; Cheer (B team), Madison Lairson; Dance, Mariah Schaffhauser.
Southern: Cheer, Rae Robinson; Dance, Lalla-Rose Stanley
Tates Creek: Cheer, Alexis Pinkston; Dance, Lizzy Wolfe; Step, Lexie Collins.
Winburn: Cheer, Adriona Williams; Dance, Lexi Cox.
■ The University of Kentucky chapter of The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi welcomed 82 new members, including six current UK faculty members and administrators, during a recent ceremony in the UK Student Center. Phi Kappa Phi is the nation's oldest and most selective all-discipline honor society.
The faculty and administrative inductees were Constance 'Connie' Baird, director of cistance learning programs; Susan Carvalho, associate provost for internationalization and interim associate provost and dean of The Graduate School; Judy "J-J" Jackson, vice president for institutional diversity and associate professor of educational policy studies and evaluation; H. Dan O'Hair, dean of the College of Communication and Information and professor of communication; John Walz, dean of the College of Engineering; and Pat Whitlow, director of the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards.
Seventy-six undergraduate and graduate students were inducted into Phi Kappa Phi. Membership is determined strictly by the standards set forth in the society's bylaws. Juniors must be in the top 7.5 percent of their class, seniors and graduate students in the top 10 percent of their classes. Faculty, professional staff, alumni and community members who have achieved scholarly distinction also may qualify.