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Davis Journal

Annual service awards honor the best in the Viking community

May 06, 2021 10:52AM ● By Peri Kinder

(Left to right) Ellery Miller, Diane Bailey, Kristin Van Brunt, Erin Williams, Alex Jeppson and Kay Merrell are recipients of the 2021 Viking Service Award. Not pictured, Melanie Walker. Photo by Roger V. Tuttle

In a year of ups and downs, the annual Viking Service Awards held at the end of April was definitely an up. Started more than 20 years ago by the Viewmont High School PTA, the event honors people in the Viking community who made a difference in people’s lives during the school year.

“[The Viking Service Awards] is honestly one of my favorite events,” said VHS Principal Jason Smith. “We take a moment to recognize any member of Viking Nation and how they have served others and made our school and community a better place.” 

Members of the VHS circle of students, parents, faculty, staff and community leaders are asked to nominate an influential individual who is recognized for their efforts to create programs, connections or improvements.

“People don’t know who nominated them until the night of the awards,” said Maria Hodgson, PTA board member and Viking Service Awards coordinator. “Then the nominator reads why they nominated their person. It’s a fun community event.”

This year’s Student Award was presented to senior Ellery Miller, a VHS Social Science Sterling Scholar and President of Students Making a Difference service club. 

“She’s really made a difference through her involvement with SMAD and how well they’ve done this year with the challenge of COVID,” Hodgson said.

Melanie Walker was the recipient of the Community/Parent Awards. Walker owns a dance studio in the community and coaches the VHS Vykelles drill team. 

“She’s a really positive influence. The [Vykelles] program was in rough shape when she came into it and she turned it around,” said Hodgson. “She’s such a great mentor for the young women.”

Five people were honored for Faculty/Staff awards. Kay Merrell, a VHS English teacher who creates a fun learning environment; Kristin van Brunt, a VHS English teacher, nominated by a fellow teacher for creating a professional development program; Erin Williams, a CTE counselor and faculty liaison to the PTA; counseling secretary Diane Bailey, nominated by Smith; and Alex Jeppson, a VHS History teacher nominated by Hodgson’s son, Lucas. 

“Mr. Jeppson is just so kind and teaches kids in their own language,” Hodgson said. “He knows how to teach teenagers and make learning fun.”

When Jeppson learned Lucas was sick with COVID, he made a special trip to the Hodgson’s home to deliver a bag of Kettle Brand Potato Chips to their doorstep. “He delivered Kettle chips to every student in his class who got COVID,” said Hodgson. 

The Viking Service Awards have become a tradition and a way to honor good works done by good people.

 “I believe it was started for just that reason,” Smith said. “An opportunity to recognize those in our community that serve others.”