Patriot Auto, MN-C announce Student of the Year banquet

May 4—Several students will soon be recognized for their excellence in the classroom and in their communities — with one set to win a free car.

Patriot Auto Group and the McAlester News-Capital continued a partnership to recognize area high school seniors through a Student of the Year program, culminating with the winner to be announced at a banquet on May 20th.

Tatton Manning, Patriot Auto Group principal dealer, said he's impressed each year with the students and enjoys seeing the community support the project.

"Every car we sell, every repair order we write, money goes back to pay for this event, this car," Manning said. "And so all of our customers, and all of our employees contribute to it. So it's me talking, and it's our company doing it — but really, it's McAlester, and all the surrounding areas supporting our kids, which is really fantastic."

"We appreciate Patriot Auto Group partnering with us again this year to recognize so many deserving students in our community," News-Capital Publisher Reina Owens said. "This year's students of the month and finalists again exhibit great intelligence, leadership and community service. We appreciate all the students making a difference and we thank Patriot Auto for making this project possible."

This year's banquet is scheduled for 6 p.m. May 20 at the McAlester Country Club — where the Student of the Year winner will be announced and given a new car through Patriot Auto Group.

Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. with the banquet set to start at 6 p.m.

High school seniors become eligible for Student of the Year with local school officials nominating them. A selection committee picks the students of the month throughout the year and narrows the field to the finalists and the eventual winner.

Students selected as Students of the Month submit their information and answer some short essay questions. Those questions include who inspires them, what their goals are for the future, how a new car would help them, and more.

A slideshow at the banquet will recognize all of the Students of the Month from this year.

This year's Top 10 includes (in no particular order):

Samantha Long — Crowder

Cameryn Brown — McAlester

Hensley Kidd — Pittsburg

Annie Jo Dawson — Lakewood

Brooklynn Sumner — McAlester

Laney McAlester — Wilburton

Tannah Beth Davison — Quinton

Anthony Reagan — Savanna

Mollie Bain — Kiowa

Jaylee Wills — Kiowa

The top finalists will be announced soon with each to be featured in video essays played during the banquet.

The Student of the Year will win a new car and be featured in the upcoming edition of McAlester Living magazine.

Manning said he started the program in 2015 with the first vehicle given to the Student of the Year in 2016 at the Bartlesville dealership — with Patriot Auto Group giving students more than a dozen vehicles through the program since then.

He said the program highlights those in the next generation working to make the future brighter.

"People always are concerned about the next generation, because everything from our freedom to our safety to our business, culture, everything is dependent on those that next generation," Manning said. "And I think there are times where we get a little scared because we don't see the greatness of the next generation. But when you meet these kids and hear about what they're doing, it makes me feel pretty good about the next generation of young people we're raising."

Patriot Auto partnered with the McAlester News-Capital in 2019 for a program highlighting students in McAlester and the surrounding areas.

Crowder's Kiley Watkins became the first McAlester-area Student of the Year in 2019. McAlester's Zoie Newman won the award in 2020, the event had to be canceled in 2021 due to COVID restrictions. McAlester's Carsyn Gragg won the award in 2022 with Calvin's Nariah Bump winning the award in 2023.