It’s the end of the 2017-18 academic year, which means the Kern High School District is set to host one of its premier events.
The 2018 PEAAK Awards are scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday. It’s the eighth year of the event, which is held at Bakersfield High School’s Harvey Auditorium. Attendance the last two years has exceeded well over 1,000 in the 1,700-seat venue, according to Stan Greene, KHSD's director of school support services.
The annual awards ceremony essentially is KHSD’s version of the ESPYs and Grammys wrapped into one. And while a heavy emphasis is on athletics, KHSD also recognizes top honors in the fine arts, academia, community services, and fandom.
“We just enjoy doing it. We’re really happy about it,” Greene said. “It’s a great opportunity to celebrate the incredible things our students do. When we started this, the objective was to recognize as many areas of excellence that we could.”
A red carpet is on display, a photo area is in tow, and participants are interviewed on live video stream that attendees can watch leading up to the awards ceremony. Many of the participants are dressed to the nines, and the goal is to provide a proper sendoff to standout students entering the summer time.
“It was pretty cool, seeing all the people you compete against, seeing people from other sports,” said former Ridgeview basketball player Justin McCall, who won 2017 Athletic Play of the Year.
“Walking up and receiving the award, all the people applauding. A lot of people were there. I thought I was dressed really nice, too, so, you know, I was definitely happy about that,” McCall added with a laugh.
More than 30 awards are given out, including best male and female athlete; athletic play of the year; best sports comeback; best in photography; outstanding achievement in theater (scholar); and best community service project.
Award winners are determined through a districtwide nomination to every school site. KHSD then compiles a list of nominees and presents them to a selection committee.
Grace Calvillo, an East Bakersfield High School student who won 2017 outstanding achievement in acting, said simply being nominated was a big deal.
“Really huge,” she said. “I didn’t start theater until my freshman year of high school and then I started dedicating most of my time to it. It was something I was really proud of. Being nominated by my teacher, someone I really looked up to, meant so much to me. And then winning the award made me feel like all my hard work had paid off.”