Levi Hughes and Emily Frantz are this year’s winners of the Centre Daily Times’ James Snyder Award from Philipsburg-Osceola.
For more than a half-century, the award has been given to Centre County’s five public schools. Sponsored by the Centre Daily Times, the award is in memory of Snyder, a former CDT sports editor who was killed in an automobile accident in December 1957.
The honors are presented to male and female letterwinners who demonstrate excellence in the classroom as well as being a model citizen in the community.
“There are so many people in our school that are qualified for this and have worked as hard as I do,” Frantz said. “I was really excited to be honored with it and see my hard work pay off.”
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Frantz, a four-year member of the P-O varsity cheerleading team, helped the Mounties to a MAC Championship as a senior on Feb. 11, her top athletic achievement. The Mounties also earned first place in the small-varsity division and the title of Grand Champion for tallying the highest score of any school participating.
Outside of cheerleading, Frantz was heavily involved at P-O. She committed countless hours to Student Council, Key Club, National Honors Society, Select Choir and Prom Committee.
She was also involved in American Red Cross blood drives, Relay For Life, Girl Scout cheer camp and, the past two summers, volunteered at Mount Nittany Medical Center. At the hospital, Frantz helped patients to their cars and worked the snack bar.
“You meet people who might not be having that great of a day, depending on why they were at the hospital,” Frantz said. “It was a great chance to brighten their day by having a conversation with them.”
Frantz will attend Lycoming College and plans to major in clinical psychology while taking criminology courses. She won’t be cheering in college, instead focusing on her studies.
Hughes will be doing the same, attending Clarion University to study nursing.
Hughes was a four-year letterwinner in wrestling and also played football for three years and baseball as a sophomore.
As an athlete, Hughes’ fondest memory was P-O football’s first win since 2013. On Oct. 29, 2016, the Mounties broke a 36-game winless streak by defeating St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy 34-14.
It was the first game on P-O’s new turf field — and it was the final game of Hughes’ football career. He scored two touchdowns in the win, but that’s not what he remembers first.
Hughes recalls the happiness after the final whistle and the celebration with his teammates.
“We hadn’t won a game since I was on varsity football. You put in all the time in practice and to open up the new field with a win was pretty cool,” Hughes said. “... The whole team played well that game and worked well together. We finally put one together.”
Hughes also posted a 22-8 record during his senior season of wrestling, finishing third at 138 pounds at the District 6 Class 3A Championships and advancing to the semifinals of the Northwest Regionals before falling, barely missing out on a PIAA appearance.
Hughes undoubtedly made an impact on the gridiron and mat — and he did so in school, as well.
Hughes served as his senior class’ vice president on top of his involvement in National Honors Society, Fly Fishing Club, Homecoming Court, Letterwinners Club and Expect Respect, an anti-bullying initiative at P-O. The senior helped promote positive behavior, reaching out to the community and inviting Big Brothers Big Sisters of America to join in a day of crafts and games at the local YMCA.
“I’ve learned that you’re always going to achieve more when you’re working with other people and you’re on the same page,” Hughes said of the wisdom gained in his time at P-O.
As for Frantz, she was shy as a freshman, but — like Hughes — is happy with how her years as a Mountie shaped her.
“By joining these clubs and being a part of cheerleading, it broke me out of my shell,” Frantz said. “I was able to meet people from the community and really make a difference. That’s what I’m most proud of — being able to make a difference in my community.”