Students, Groups Awarded At Norris Banquet

Libby Nelson

For a few hours Tuesday night, student group leaders left their offices, put away their planners and stopped answering e-mail, taking a break from the work of running an organization for Norris’ student recognition banquet.

The banquet, now in its 19th year, was created to honor students and student groups for their work throughout the year, along with graduate students, Norris employees and university staff. Award recipients ranged from small, nearly unknown organizations to those with high-profile events.

A&O Productions was honored as Outstanding Student Organization for the second consecutive year. Nominators cited the success of the Kanye West concert during Fall Quarter and continuing programming such as the weekend movies.

“There were other organizations who had outstanding years,” A&O chairwoman and Weinberg junior Rachel Cort said. “Kanye West was undeniably a huge success and on a larger scale than a student event had been before, and then we continued a year of excellent programming.”

Five students were inducted into the Highest Order of Excellence Society, which honors “extreme leadership,” said SESP senior Melanie Kahl, leadership coordinator for the Center for Student Involvement.

Alternative Student Breaks program director Mercedes Stickler, Dance Marathon co-chair Cecilia Byrne, former College Feminists president Jess Joslin, former Associated Student Government president Patrick Keenan-Devlin, and International Youth Volunteer Summit co-founder Jonathan Marino were chosen for the society from a group of more than 30 nominees.

The summit, which Marino co-founded with Weinberg senior Nathaniel Whittemore, also won for Outstanding Community Service Event. It focused on increasing the effectiveness of international volunteer efforts.

Marino, a former member of the Associated Student Government Executive Committee, said knowing who nominated him made the award that much more powerful. Fellow inductee Keenan-Devlin had been quoted as one of his nominators.

“The most humbling thing is the people who nominated you. They’re two people I really look up to,” said Marino, a SESP senior.

Stickler, a Weinberg senior, also said her nominators made the award special. Judges cited Stickler’s commitment to ASB, including reaching out to incoming freshman for summer 2006 breaks.

“My experiences with ASB defined my experience at Northwestern,” Stickler said.

Other individual awards went to Weinberg freshman Nikolai Smith and SESP sophomore Aneesa Arshad as “emerging leaders” and to McCormick junior Carla Falcon as the winner of a leadership scholarship.

For the first time this year, fine arts groups and productions were eligible for their own awards, including Outstanding Performing Arts Production, Outstanding Director, Outstanding Producer and Outstanding Theatrical Production.

“We wanted to support the ever-popular and ever-growing theater community at Northwestern,” said Shea Rentschler, a former staff member for the Center for Student Involvement. Rentschler coordinated and attended the event despite recently taking a job at the University of Chicago.

Other organizations recognized include Alianza for excellence in diversity programming, Northwestern Community Development Corps as outstanding community service organization and the Purple Crayon Players as outstanding new student organization.

Reach Libby Nelson at [email protected]