LIMA - Going into the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks Lodge 54's annual Youth Banquet Wednesday evening, Diana Wieser didn't know she had been selected as "Student of the Year."
When the lodge's youth activities chairwoman, Jean Zink, began to announce who the three-member committee had selected, Diana heard her say the winner was a member of the National Honor Society and the German Club and Speech Team.
"When they said the winner was the runner-up for Ohio's Junior Miss in February, I knew it was me at that point," Diana said. "I am very honored to have this award because there are so many talented students in the area."
Diana, a 17-year-old senior at Lima Central Catholic High School, was among numerous teens from Allen and Putnam counties honored at the Elks annual banquet.
In all, the Elks honored 16 students of the month, 13 scholarship winners, three middle school essay contest winners, and others, according to Zink.
Diana's $1,000 scholarship was part of $23,000 in scholarships the lodge awarded this year from its proceeds.
"These kids were honored for their level of involvement within their schools, communities and churches," she said. "They are the future of our community."
As part of the Elks National Youth Week, the lodge had a dinner for the children and their parents. The Rev. David Ross, of St. Marys Catholic Church in Tiffin, was keynote speaker and Lima Mayor David Berger gave a proclamation.
Zink said recognizing the area's outstanding children is one of the organization's two major focuses.
Additionally, she said, they honor the veterans, culminating in a Christmas event in which they give veterans at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Dayton a gift of their choice.