By Tom Dinki

Last week’s 48th annual Cattaraugus County National Honor Society recognition banquet was attended by some of the area’s brightest and most accomplished students — the kind who likely won’t have much trouble finding fields they excel in. 

So they were asked to meet another challenge: find a job they’re both good at and enjoy. 

“Find a job you enjoy doing and you’ll never have to work a day in your life,” said guest speaker Chuck Pollock, referencing the popular quote often attributed to Mark Twain. “Yeah, it’s technically a cliché, but clichés work and endure because they’re true.” 

About 375 students and educators, representing the 12 National Honor Society chapters in Cattaraugus County, attended the dinner, which was held at Good Times of Olean and sponsored by the Cattaraugus-Allegany Superintendents’ Association and boards of education throughout the county. 

From Ellicottville Central School, several students were recognized for their work during their school careers and in National Honor Society.

Louisa Benatovich was awarded a $1,000 Betty Pappas Scholarship for her academic achievement and writing ability. Benatovich also received the Scholastic Excellence Award for having the highest combined SAT score on any one test date.

Meganne Chapman was named the Outstanding Chapter Member from the Ellicottville NHS.

Abigail Sonnenberg was presented the Distinguished Services Award for being the “unsung hero” of Ellicottville’s NHS chapter.

Finally, Ginna Hensel was announced as one of 575 NHS Scholarship semifinalists out of more than 11,000 applicants and will receive $3,200 toward her higher education.

All the students, in addition to being recognized for their academics and being awarded scholarships, were given parting advice from Pollock, senior sports columnist for the Olean Times Herald. 

He noted surveys show about 70 percent of Americans are unsatisfied with their jobs and urged students to not become one of them. 

“Now’s the time for you to start thinking about the 40 to 50 years you have in the workforce,” he said. “If you waste four to five decades of a short life doing a job that makes you miserable, what could be more depressing?” 

Pollock, who has won 27 New York State Associated Press awards since joining the Times Herald in 1973, gave two simple but important reasons for why he became a sports writer: he was good at writing and enjoyed sports. 

“Each of you in this room has a skill, something that you do better than most anybody else in this room,” he said. “Your job is to take that asset and turn it into a career because — circumstantially — it’s probably what makes you happy and it’s also what you do best. 

“And that’s a goal worth shooting for.” 

FIVE SCHOLARSHIPS of $1,000 each, which honor the originators of the banquet, were awarded to students who competed on academic achievement and writing ability. The recipients were:

• Betty Pappas Scholarship — Louisa Benatovich, Ellicottville

• Ray Leahy Scholarship — Elaina James, Randolph

• Mary Elizabeth Eaton Scholarship — Meghan Brink, Allegany-Limestone 

• Lee Frair Scholarship — Anthony Smith, Portville 

8 James Doyle Scholarship — Helena Blackwell, Pioneer 

Plaques for the Outstanding Chapter Member of each school were presented to: 

• Meghan Brink, Allegany- Limestone 

8 Alexus Fisk, Archbishop Walsh Academy 

• Brooklyn Hill, Cattaraugus-Little Valley 

• Meganne Chapman, Ellicottville 

• Sara Wright Franklinville 

• Savanna Carapellatti, Hinsdale 

• Jarrett Prizel, Olean 

• Leiya Miller, Pioneer 

• Hannah Cole, Portville 

• Mara Marsh, Randolph 

• Nyles Panus, Salamanca 

• Rachel Frascella, West Valley 

The Scholastic Excellence Award, which is given to the senior National Honor Society member from each school with the highest combined SAT score on any one test date, was presented to: 

• Alice Li, Allegany- Limestone 

• Joseph Ditz, Archbishop Walsh Academy 

• Summer Harper, Cattaraugus-Little Valley 

• Louisa Benatovich, Ellicottville 

• Amir Ibrahim, Franklinville 

• Jordan Sands, Hinsdale 

• Hira Mirza, Olean 

• Maxwell Hughes, Pioneer 

• Christine Pagett, Portville 

• Kaylynn Chadwick, Randolph 

• George Gillman, Salamanca 

• Rachel Frascella, West Valley 

The Distinguished Services Award, which goes to the “unsung hero” of each school, was presented to: 

• Sydney Sider, Allegany- Limestone 

• Jessica Olson, Archbishop Walsh Academy 

• Bridget Murphy, Cattaraugus-Little Valley 

• Abigail Sonnenberg, Ellicottville 

• Renee Szymanski, Franklinville 

• Ashley Chapman, Hinsdale 

• Alivia Schoening, Olean 

• Gabriel Higgins, Pioneer 

• Ericka Carlson, Portville 

• Caroline Meleen, Randolph 

• Sesilleya Slade, Salamanca 

• Travis Dusterhus, West Valley