On Thursday, May 25, 2017, HTC honored 52 students representing all Horry County Schools during the 17th Annual REEL Kids Awards held at the Marriott Resort & Spa at Grande Dunes in Myrtle Beach.  These 52 students have proven themselves through scholastic, athletic, and community achievements in the face of recent obstacles or extenuating circumstances and have been recognized by their schools as winners of the HTC REEL Kids (Recognizing Extraordinary Examples of Leadership) award.

Since 2001, HTC has confirmed a local connection to the community by hosting the HTC REEL Kids program to honor students who may otherwise go unnoticed.  These students are worthy of recognition for their outstanding leadership qualities that have helped them through special circumstances.  All schools in Horry County, primary through high school, were encouraged to participate by nominating an extraordinary student.  For the 17th consecutive year, HTC received 100% participation, and all Horry County Schools are represented with a REEL Kids award winner.

“When we receive the nominations from the schools and read about the hardships these young people have endured, we are humbled,” said Mike Hagg, HTC Chief Executive Officer.  “These REEL Kids have fought through the loss of loved ones, physical disabilities, learning disabilities, disease, emotional problems, abuse, neglect, abandonment, and so much more.  The most remarkable fact is that the REEL Kids have overcome what some would have seen as stumbling blocks.” 

As part of becoming an HTC REEL Kid, each child along with his/her teacher, principal or guidance counselor is interviewed for an HTC REEL Kids segment that airs weekly during the local talk show, RiverTalk.  Each child’s inspiring story of overcoming adversity is shared during the interview. 

“The REEL Kids program is one way HTC connects with the community and is always a highpoint of the year for us at HTC.  We are amazed at the amount of zeal these children possess and can see how arduous times have made them stronger.  During the interviews, the REEL Kids give advice to those who are going through difficult situations and urge others above all to never give up,” continued Hagg.  

REEL Kids Success Story

HTC showcased a REEL Kids Success Story.  This year’s story was Lucas Snyder, the 2007 HTC REEL Kid for St. James High School and Meagan Conner Award winner.  He’s now living his dream as a teacher at Columbia High School.  He spoke to the 2017 REEL Kids about the impact the REEL Kids program had on his life and encouraged the REEL Kids with inspirational words of advice.  

Prior to the special guest presentation by Lucas Snyder, HTC awarded medals to each winner for their accomplishments.  The Meagan Conner Award and Taylor McKinney Award for Courage winners will also be also announced.  

Read Lucas Snyder's Bio >>

See the listings & photos of all the 2017 HTC REEL Kids by clicking on the links below:

Meagan Conner Award
During the first season of HTC REEL Kids, Meagan Conner, Loris High School’s REEL Kid, was battling cancer.  It was a battle she lost just four months after the REEL Kids luncheon.  Her story touched everyone that year, and we continue to pay tribute to her life by honoring one REEL Kid each year with this award.  A special committee selects an outstanding REEL Kid who made a lasting impression at the time of the interview and displays strong character, determination and perseverance.

The objective of the Meagan Conner award is not to choose a student based on the severity of the obstacle, but rather the strength of their character, the degree of their determination, and the duration of their perseverance.

For the first time, the Meagan Conner Family is giving a $1,000 scholarship to accompany the award.

The 2017 Meagan Conner Award Winner is Cinthia Zavalo-Ramos from Scholars Academy. Cinthia is attending Yale University in the fall.

Cinthia Zavalo-Ramos, Scholars Academy


Taylor McKinney Award for Courage
In 2005, Waccamaw Elementary teachers, Dawn Haithcock and Sandy Drose nominated 4th grader, Taylor McKinney, to represent their school as an HTC REEL Kid. Taylor battled leukemia from the time she was five years old and endured several bone marrow transplants to survive. Although she was in remission for several years, on October 4, 2005, she passed away.

HTC and Waccamaw Elementary made the decision to honor Taylor McKinney with the award posthumously. In honor of this courageous young lady, HTC has created a new REEL Kid award. This award will be presented to a REEL Kid only in the most extraordinary of situations; a case in which courage overcomes fear and a REEL Kid emerges.

2017 Taylor McKinney Award for Courage
Kyleigh Dean, Aynor Middle

Sierra Strickland
2017 Taylor McKinney Award for Courage
Harley Smith, Early College

John Lucsko Trophy
In 2016, HTC was fortunately able to capture a few moments with the Burgess Elementary School REEL Kid nominee, a 5th grader, John Lucsko.  The interview was conducted on January 13, 2016, a day when John Lucsko was feeling great and confident of his future.  Although John passed away on April 30, he passes along encouragement to all future REEL Kids to persevere and be victorious over any struggle they encounter.  On his behalf, HTC introduced the 3rd honorary award named after a REEL Kid last year.  The newest award is known as the John Lucsko Trophy. 

Jeshua Matzdorff, Ocean Bay Middle


HGTC Scholarship Recipients
Three HTC REEL Kids received HGTC Presidential Scholarships this year.  Dr. Marilyn Fore could not attend the ceremony because of a previously scheduled HGTC Foundation meeting the same morning.  Dr. Christy Bailey, Assistant VP for Academic Affairs, presented the scholarships on her behalf.  

2017 HGTC Presidential
Scholarship Winner

Andrea Rose, Academy for
Technology & Academics

2017 HGTC Presidential
Scholarship Winner

Thomas Elliott, Myrtle Beach High

2017 HGTC Presidential
Scholarship Winner

Miranda Burgess, NMB High 

2017 Rodney C. Hardee
Memorial Scholarship Winner

Syvell Isom-Brandon, Academy for
Arts, Science, & Technology

2017 Ken Summerall Mentoring Award -
Lindsey Hecklinger, Early College High

History of HTC REEL Kids Program

The HTC REEL Kids program began in the fall of 2000 and was created to recognize one student per school who has overcome a significant obstacle in their life.  School counselors are asked to nominate students and, one child from each school in Horry County is awarded the HTC REEL Kids award.  The nomination form asks counselors to describe how the nominees have proven themselves through scholastic, athletic and community achievements in the face of recent obstacles or extenuating circumstances.  The counselor and principal sign off on the information provided, and the parent/guardian give permission for all personal and academic information to be released publicly by HTC in its efforts to recognize and describe award winners for this honor.    

HTC is proud to help share these inspirational stories with the community. For more information concerning the HTC REEL Kids Awards, please contact Nicole Hyman, HTC Senior Marketing Coordinator, at 369-8498 or 902-3838.

Channel: Simple Page
Entry Title: HTC REEL Kids
Entry ID: 2154


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