26th Annual SOAR Awards

A remarkable 30 staff members, volunteers, and community partners were honored at Affton School District’s 26th Annual Service and Outstanding Achievement Recognition (SOAR) Awards on April 20. A special Superintendent’s Award was also presented.

“It is my honor to recognize 30 exceptional individuals that help make Affton strong,” said Dr. Travis Bracht, superintendent. “Each of our nominees has something in common - they have all gone above and beyond in their actions and have persevered as we have tried to find our way out of the pandemic to make a difference for our students, our schools, and our community.”

Six nominees received the prestigious SOAR Award. They include: 

  • Amy Dahlia, ELL teacher at Mesnier Primary; 

  • Sheri Hogland, Fifth Grade teacher at Gotsch Intermediate; 

  • Ryan Lupka, Band Director at Rogers Middle School and Affton High School; 

  • Joe Murphy, ELA Teacher & Drama Club Director at Rogers Middle School and Affton High School;  

  • Dr. Deann Myers, Principal at Affton High School; and 

  • Melanie Sell, Classroom Leader at Affton Early Childhood.

Fahima Band Ali, an Affton High School Class of 2020 graduate, received the 2022 Superintendent’s Award for making a difference to support Afghan families relocating throughout the St. Louis region. Fahima and her three sisters moved to the United States from Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2018 to join their parents. She is currently a sophomore at Webster University studying Political Science with a minor in International Relations. 

“When the government of Afghanistan collapsed, Fahima knew she had to do something, which included creating a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for refugees heading to St. Louis, a web page with information about her efforts, and a public discussion about Afghanistan,” said Bracht. “She did not hesitate to show kindness and organize support for Afghan refugees immigrating to our area.”

Band Ali shared, “This award really means a lot to me because I am a first-generation immigrant here, and also I started coming to Affton High School in 2018. This award represents that Affton High School created an opportunity for me, an environment for me to not only grow but also feel at home as a first-generation immigrant. And today, they're doing the exact same thing with the Afghan refugees here at Affton School District.”

In addition to the six SOAR Award winners and the winner of the Superintendent’s Award, 24 others were nominated and honored at the ceremony:

  • Kelly Arnett, Volunteer;

  • Jane Bohn, School Counselor at Affton High School;

  • Debbie Boyer, Custodian at Rogers Middle School;

  • Katy Bushart, Community Partner for STL CAPS from SSM Health

  • Misty DeMattee, Volunteer

  • Mary Dreon, Secretary at Affton High School; 

  • Abbi Fitzgerald, Classroom Leader at Affton Early Childhood;

  • Devon Ford, Football, Wrestling, Track Coach at Affton High School;

  • Don Henning, ELA & Yearbook Teacher at Affton High School;

  • Sarah Heuring , First Grade Teacher at Mesnier Primary;

  • Maria Knight, Volunteer;

  • Megan Kopriva, District Registrar at Affton School District;

  • Anna Levinson, School Nurse at Rogers Middle School;

  • Joan Mifflin, Staff Assistant at Affton Early Childhood;

  • Claudia Murillo Rodriguez, Before & After Care Facilitator at Affton Early Childhood;

  • Jan Nelson, Librarian at Affton High School;

  • Scott Nickell, Volunteer;

  • Sally Onkle, District Data Coordinator at Affton School District;

  • Laureta Pepa, Custodian at Affton High School;

  • Amber Peroutka, Parent Educator at Affton Parents As Teachers;

  • Kelly Sander, Social Studies Teacher at Affton High School;

  • Wendi Sauer, Volunteer

  • Courtney Thomas, Second Grade Teacher at Mesnier Primary; and 

  • Breana Wagner, Teacher Assistant at Affton High School.