Highlights of the evening were the Thomas Lucas Integrity Award, which honours the memory of Thomas Lucas, former President of the Wilson County Board of Commissioners and one of the collaborators who helped create the Gentlemen`s Agreement. Sherry Lucas, his widow, presented the award to a young man from each school. The recipients were Jahlyl Rosa of Beddingfield, Terry Perry of Hunt and Brandon Hinnant of Fike. Kelley Brna, Merck Wilson`s plant manager, received a unique and personalized award for the WEP silver medallion on behalf of the company. Jairod Barnes, Partnership Manager at Winstead Elementary School, presented Alice Freeman with the WCS Gold Award for her commitment to the Agreement Mentorship Program. Davis has played an important role in the implementation of the district`s wellness initiatives. “Merck believes in giving something back to the community and helping those who need it,” Vick said. “He was a tremendous and important partner in our Wilson school system,” Barnes said. “As a member of the Wilson County Schools Safety Impact team, founded in 2013, he helped improve the safety of the district, making Wilson County schools one of the safest districts in the state of North Carolina.” The gentlemen`s agreement began with a parents` night in October, followed by young people who visited the barton and Wilson Community College campuses in November to learn more about the offer of these schools and the university admission process. Merck has not only made a financial investment, it has also invested on a voluntary basis. Employees spent hundreds of hours buying school supplies and distributing backpacks to students in need, Vick said. Robin Williams has been recognized as the new CEO of weP. Vick is retiring after more than 20 years at the helm of the organization.

The leaders of the Gentleman`s Agreement presented their concept last year to the National School Boards Association. They hope the program can be extended to other districts in North Carolina and perhaps even across the country. From the age of 8, LaMarcus Strickland wanted to be on a fire truck. Lori Barnes, Partnership Manager at Vinson-Bynum Elementary School, presents the WCS Silver Award to Captain Mark Sullivan of the Wilson Police Department. “We need a village for all of us, for our students and for our employees,” Creech said. “We are here to celebrate and celebrate what you have done this year to strengthen and support our teachers.” Eric Davis, Wilson County`s director of school operations, shakes hands with Isaiah Watson at the 2016 Gentlemen`s Agreement Banquet. “Merk`s leaders are strong advocates of public education,” Vick said. “They have emphasized important programs that benefit our students. You spoke on behalf of our schools with elected officials. They encourage financial investments by the municipality and the state when we needed improvements in our schools, and they brought together other municipal leaders and businesses to get involved in public schools. We are very grateful for the contributions Merck has made in Wilson County. “Since I started the club, I`ve had a lot of experience,” he said.