SHOREWOOD – Shorewood Lion’s Club member Jim McDonald was the surprise – and surprised – honoree Wednesday night as he presented his last group of Troy School District students with the Lion’s Club Student of the Month award.
More than 25 years ago, McDonald approached the Troy School District 30-C to see whether the administration and board of education would be interested in a program where the school, teachers and Lion’s Club could each month honor students for their achievements together.
“The principal at the time was mulling over the same idea I had, so we decided to go ahead with it. I went to local merchants for donations for the students who were honored,” McDonald said at Wednesday’s board meeting.
And now, more than two decades later, McDonald is passing the baton to current Shorewood Lion’s Club President Noelle Viola.
“I want to have more free time for my family and grandkids and it’s time to have someone younger in this position to keep the program going,” McDonald said.
Troy Board President Mark Griglione said he has been on the board for 16 years and cannot remember a time when McDonald missed handing out the Student of the Month awards.
The board thought it was appropriate to bestow upon McDonald the same honor he has awarded to almost 2,000 students over the years. So after the regular awards were given, a surprise honorary student of the month award was presented to McDonald.
“I looked over the agenda when we sat down and I saw that there was an honorary student of the month award. I panicked because I thought we forgot someone,” said Jim McDonald’s wife, Diane McDonald. “We both looked at each other confused and thought we would see what happened.”
What happened was McDonald was honored with a standing ovation by the audience and board members to recognize a man who encouraged students to work hard with his coined phrase, “congratulations and keep up the good work” as he handed out the awards.
“He shows the students that someone cares about their hard work and they are getting something back from the community. Jim has always been positive and supportive,” Griglione said.
McDonald said he has seen the program grow, had handed out awards to siblings and then generations of one family, and has felt strong about its importance because it allows a variety of students to receive an award and shows the importance of hard work.
“I hope this encourages students to do better as they go on in life. If they get a better education, hopefully they can find a better job, and higher moral values are associated with education,” McDonald said. “And, it’s fun to see siblings work hard to compete and I’ve seen parents who have received the award, now honor their child.”
Viola said she looks forward to her new position and wants the Shorewood Lion’s Club to develop more of a presence in the community and pursue more corporate involvement for sponsors.