Written by Phil Cerroni
By Alice Canham
Melanie Heitzman traveled from Verizon on Aug. 31 to make a prestigious award to a worthy Irving teen – Megan Elrod. The senior at Irving High School was honored with the ‘2012 Verizon Community Leader Award’ – one of only ten recipients in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Verizon accepts nominees from 250 schools and this year received 67 entries.
But first, reality intruded: festivities at the high school were interrupted by a prolonged fire drill. Hundreds of students spent several minutes outside, waiting patiently for the resumption of their football season’s first Pep Rally where Megan was to receive her award. When they finally got to jump, pound, yell and tumble, it shook the walls of the school gymnasium.
One of those doing the most jumping was the day’s honoree. Megan is an overall-wearing member of the school’s spirit squad, responsible for pumping up Tiger Fever.
“We’re so proud of Megan,” said grandmother Darlene Fleeman who attended the rally with Megan’s grandfather, Barry Fleeman. ”Not just her leadership skills but her grades – she’s always so positive. She’s in the top five percent of her class and has earned magna cum laude honors.”
The teen’s mother, Jennifer Elrod, added that Megan was chosen to participate this summer in Camp RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Award), another significant accomplishment.
Heitzman marveled as she watched the energetic teen.
“To win this award is a big deal,” she said. “The purpose of the award is to recognize achievements from outstanding students in the high school sports community. They’re viewed as leaders who display Verizon’s core values: integrity, respect, performance excellence and accountability. Academic excellence, yes, but we’re also looking for a well-rounded individual.”
Along with the prestige comes a cash award of $1,000 to be designated for the nonprofit, PTA or booster club of the winner’s choice. Megan’s gift goes to the school’s volleyball booster club to reflect her passion for the sport in which she has been an All-District, All-Academic player for the past two years. She also volunteers in coaching the sport for younger girls.
As Megan’s name was called, she turned to her mother and grandparents, gesturing that they should join her. Shaking their heads, they remained on the sidelines.
“This is her time to shine,” said Jennifer. “She worked for it.”