October Student Leader of the Year nominees leave marks in their communities

Michael D. Smith

Editor's note: The Patriot Ardmore Student Leader program recognizes Senior students, nominated by their high school administrative staff, that demonstrate integrity and leadership in school and extra-curricular organizations,  in addition to upholding high standards at the academic level. Each month two student leaders are named, and at the end of the school year the monthly student leaders will vie for the Student Leader of the Year title and a new car provided by Patriot Ardmore.

To be nominated for a Student Leader of the Year award, a high school senior must meet certain standards in and out of school. While Nate Sudderth and Keylee Mathews have both met some of these standards by working with organizations outside of school, they have excelled with their leadership efforts at school. 

For Nate Sudderth, leadership has taken on a new role as a senior at Lone Grove High School during a pandemic. He has been a team captain for Longhorns baseball and is the senior class president, but one of the most important leadership roles he’s taken on during high school has simply been from being a student during a pandemic.

Nate Sudderth

“Even though it’s a little bit of newer territory for you, you’ve gotta know they (younger students) are looking up to you all the time to see what to do. Because you’re supposed to have all the answers,” he said.

His academic record has also set him apart as a leader. Along with his role in student government, Sudderth is the local National Honors Society president and a member of FCA. He has been a school student of the month every year of high school and supports a 4.0 GPA, according to his nomination.

Outside of the classroom, Sudderth has proven himself on the baseball diamond as an infielder and pitcher. He was selected to the 2019 All-Ardmoreite baseball team and last year racked up two wins and a homerun during district play.

Sudderth learned how important community support can be through the lens of athletics, and the baseball player is probably recognized by local football fans because of his role on Friday nights in the fall. Because of his job running the school flag during football games, his brand of support is having an impact on other Longhorns.

“Due to his leadership as a baseball player supporting the football team, we see students supporting other sports throughout the year,” read Sudderth’s nomination.

Sudderth has also helped pack meals for the Regional Food Bank of OKC, assisted with blood drives, worked athletic camps, helped organize last year’s winter formal, and plays guitar in his church youth group. 

As someone who grew up with braces, Sudderth is considering studies in orthodontics. He said teeth and smiles have always been interesting to him and he hopes to help people with their smiles.

Because of his continued support for the community that helped raise him, Sudderth thinks he may eventually bring his college education back to southern Oklahoma.

“I can definitely see myself after college coming back here. I think it’s a really cool experience in small-town Oklahoma,” he said.

Keylee Mathews also knows how important community can be. The Dickson High School senior said that community has been one of the best parts about being a Comet.

“The community has always been very involved with whatever the school is doing,” she said.

Keylee Mathews

The community service Mathews has contributed over the years has also helped people outside of her community. According to her nomination, she has done hair and nails for Wilson nursing home residents, laid sod for Habitat for Humanity homes, raised money for Relay for Life, worked blood drives and rang bells for the Salvation Army.

That desire to help may be behind her plans to pursue a career in physical therapy, and her experience as a trainer for various Comets athletics should help her get there. She has been on the sidelines of Comets football as a trainer since her freshman year, and has had major roles with the school’s track team.

Mathews said she was also among the first girls to help launch the girls’ powerlifting team at Dickson. 

“They didn’t want us lifting with the boys, so our eighth-grade year one of the girl’s dad was a coach. So, he would coach us in his off hours. And we kind of just talked him into letting us lift with the boys once there was a bigger group of us,” she said.

She said the number of girls in junior high pursuing powerlifting is an indication that the sport may continue even after her graduation.

Her relationship with coaches at Dickson has helped Mathews become a sort of liaison between athletes and student government. As the senior class president, Mathews is a Blue Ribbon Scholar that has earned a spot on both the superintendent’s honor roll and principal’s honor roll throughout high school.

She hopes to return to southern Oklahoma with her degree so she can be close to family, but Dickson High School has already felt a momentous impact because of Mathews. If helping form a girls' powerlifting team wasn’t enough, Mathews is also spending her senior year as the president of the school’s first National Honors Society chapter — something that is likely to resonate throughout the community for years to come.  “It’s the reason we do a lot of community service hours,” she said.