A salute to our Best & Brightest

This was one of my favorite weekends of the year.

Not because we finally got a real dose of spring fever with temperatures rocketing into the 80s on Saturday. And certainly not because winter seemed to return with a vengeance Sunday with a cold, nasty drizzle that made Saturday seem like a distant memory.

No, this was the weekend where we present two very special packages to our readers.

On Sunday we saluted the members of the All-Delco Hi-Q team. That is one member from each team that competes in the nation's oldest scholastic quiz competition.

Today we followed up that report with the 19 winners of this year's Excellence in Education Awards.

All of this results from a meeting I held in my office more than a decade ago.

John Unangst was head of the Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union. Harry Jamison was boss at the Delaware County Intermediate Unit.

The credit union had just stepped up to become the primary corporate partner of Hi-Q, and John was looking to do something special.

His vision turned into an annual banquet honoring Hi-Q. It was called Partners in Education.

But that was not really what John and Harry wanted to discuss.

They were intrigued by the All-Delco teams the newspaper selected at the conclusion of every high school sports season. They wanted to "adopt" it for the Hi-Q team and honor the winners at the banquet.

They asked if I was interested.

I think the smile on my face told them all they needed to know.

It has always been my goal to offer more coverage for kids who excel in the classroom, not necessarily on the athletic playing fields. Here at the Daily Times, we take our role as "Delaware County's Sports Authority" pretty seriously. But every time I bragged about how well we covered high school sports, my wife would ask why we did not offer similar coverage for academic excellence.

Good point, don't you think?

The All-Delco Hi-Q team is one way we've addressed that issue.

We run the head shot and biographical information each All-Delco Hi-Q member. Along with a feature story. The All-Delco Hi-Q team is not selected by us, but rather by their teammates.

A few years after he kicked off the Partners In Education dinner, John decided to add another aspect, honoring the people who were responsible for a lot of that academic excellence.

Thus was started the Excellence in Teaching awards. All 19 of them, along with their head shots, appear in today's newspaper.

Unfortunately, this year's banquet, set to be held Thursday night at the Drexelbrook, will come with a bit of sadness. John Unangst will not be there. We lost John a few months ago.

The All-Delco Hi-Q team and the Excellence in Teaching Awards are testament to what John meant to the Delaware County education community.

I will always be grateful for that visit.

And I'll be thinking of you Thursday night, John.