You don't have to be a top-athlete or have the highest GPA to be named a "champion" at Mahomet-Seymour High School.
As part of the school's Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports program, teachers hand out Bulldog awards at a "Breakfast of Champions" event each semester to students who display positive qualities in extracurricular activities, classroom behavior and educational experiences.
Winners aren't told ahead of time but are asked to come to the school auditorium for a meeting. There, they're given breakfast and their award, presented by a teacher who tells the audience why the student was selected.
After the most recent ceremony, staff writer Nicole Lafond dropped by to ask the winning students: How'd it feel to be recognized for behavior that often goes unnoticed?
"My math teacher, Mr. Ryan, nominated me and it's not necessarily for academic or extracurricular achievement, it's more about what you do outside of that. He said it was just because of my work ethic.
"My mom didn't tell me at all about the event ahead of time and sent me a text to come down to the auditorium and I didn't know what was happening. I was like 'Why is my mom at school?' I was really excited."
"Mr. Benedict nominated me — he's my PE teacher and he's also been my basketball teacher the past couple of years. He said that I do a lot of little things around school that set me apart and he said a lot of people don't see it, but it goes a long way. I thought it was really cool. I've known Coach Benedict for a long time, so it meant a lot coming from him."
"Ms. Ehrecke and Ms. Clark nominated me, my science teacher and a teacher's aide. They liked that I'm an outgoing person and when someone seems upset, I always ask them what's wrong. I'm really positive and they said I can help change a lot of people's attitude.
"Like, if someone's having a terrible day, I can help turn that into a great day for them just by talking to them. I treat everyone equally."
"My English teacher, Mrs. Guth, said she nominated me because I was able to pay attention in class when other people couldn't and she enjoyed how I put myself into my work and try my hardest in everything I do in English class."
"One of my teachers nominated me because they said I worked hard and wasn't afraid to ask for help and I always say thank you every day when I leave class.
"I was surprised but mostly kind of confused. No one told me what was going on, but my mom said we were going to a meeting of some kind, so I just went along with it. She told my sister four days in advance so she could wake up early and drop her off to school early so she could be at this event for me."
"My PE teacher, Ms. Allen, nominated me. She said in PE I always bring smiles to people's faces and get them excited about things that aren't always necessarily fun. There's this new thing we did in class called drum-fit and you hit an exercise ball with some drums sticks and I recruited some guys to do it with me. I didn't know I was winning something until I walked in the room. I was pretty excited and happy about the whole thing."