Update: Student of the Year, Jeep winner to study nursing in college

Vicky O. Misa / The Shawnee News-Star / USA TODAY NETWORK
Connor Benn sits in his new Jeep Renegade he won from Patriot Auto Group after being named the News-Star/Patriot Auto Group Student o the Year on May 3. Benn, of Meeker, plans to study nursing in college.

After an awards banquet held May 3, Connor Benn, of Meeker, drove home in a brand new Jeep Renegade from Patriot Auto Group — his prize for winning Best of Tri-County Area Preps Student of the Year award.

One of 16 finalists, Benn was chosen based on his academic achievements and service to the community.

Maintaining a 4.0 GPA, Benn was selected as one of The Shawnee News-Star and Patriot Auto Group Students of the Month for February.

“Connor Benn is the epitome of the model student,” Meeker High School counselor and nominator John Bolander said. “His commitment to serving and helping others is exceptional for a student as active as he is in the community and school.”

He said Benn is actively involved in his community through the Meeker Chapter of FFA, as well as his church.

For example, Benn became instrumental in the school's recognition of our veterans on Veterans Day for the past couple years, Bolander said.

“He has worked tirelessly on the beautification project,” he said.

“Conner has spent nearly 200 hours in the past three years with two food projects to provide food for needy families in the Lincoln County area,” Bolander said. “He spent another 100 hours working for various school programs with the elementary students reading, community blood drives and raising money for the FFA programs.”

Meeker High School FFA Adviser Logan Johns said Benn sets a good example for others to follow in the school, community, state and nation.

“He is grounded and motivated and constantly works to follow the right path,” Johns said. “His passion for agricultural education, other students, and this organization never ceases to amaze me.”

Johns said Benn knows how to motivate and encourage students while getting them involved.

“His likable and approachable personality easily sets him apart,” he said.

Johns said four distinguishing characteristics — passion, work ethic, morality and compassion — are easily seen through Benn's actions for others.

Patriot Auto Group presented a brand new Jeep Renegade to this year's Student of the Year, Connor Benn, of Meeker.

Benn said winning the brand new Jeep was an incredible feeling.

“I really didn't expect to win it at all, and was just blessed to have been considered for one of the scholarships,” he said. “I'm not going to lie, when they announced my name I wasn't sure if it was actually me, so I was hesitant. But when my family started going crazy I knew it was me.”

He said he is very thankful for the opportunity and is beyond excited to have received the car.

Benn will be heading to Rose State College for his first two years — on the State Regent Scholarship and as part of the President's Leadership Class.

He said he plans to major in nursing — somewhat following in his mother's footsteps.

“She is a nurse, but went the administrative route,” he said. “I want to be a nurse anesthetist."

Benn said he loves working with people.

“A nurse anesthetist is usually one of the last people you see before going under for any surgery or procedure,” he said. “If I can help make that process more comfortable — or even less nerve-racking, then I feel like that is where I can help best.”

Though he hasn't formulated any concrete plans after graduating college, he is leaning toward staying in the state, maybe moving more rural, he said.

Benn's parents are Martin and Trina Benn.

Connor Benn of Meeker, the 2021 Student of the Year, gets the keys for his new Jeep Renegade from Patriot Auto Group's Tatton Manning and Seth Knighton. The News-Star/Patriot Auto Group Student of the Year is selected from a pool of 16 Student of the Month finalists. Watch for more in a special section May 22-23.

Student of the Year finalist awards

Also, scholarships in the amount of $500 each were awarded to four of Benn's fellow student finalists: Noah Drew, of Bethel; Daniel King, of Shawnee; Cale Richardson, of Dale, and MacKenzie Steele, of Shawnee.

The remaining 11 finalists won $250 scholarships.

They are:

• Jaryn Adamek, of Bethel

• Kaycee Babek, of Meeker

• Kayla Casteel, of Shawnee

• Kylee Greenwalt, of Dale

• Haley Kidney, of Bethel

• Isaac Mohr, of Bethel

• Callie Roberts, of Prague

• Paisley Sturgill, of Bethel

• Hannah VanDenBrand, of Chandler

• Chandler Wilson, of Bethel

• Kulson Yates, of Tecumseh

Finalists await the big announcement of who would become this year's Best of Tri-County Area Preps Student of the Year Monday night.
Several student athletes gathered for the 2021 Best of Tri-County Area Preps.


For story ideas, questions or concerns, reporter Vicky O. Misa can be reached at vicky.misa@news-star.com.