107 0026OWENSBORO, Ky. (8/29/2014) – Family, friends and Daviess County Public Schools administrators joined with the Foundation for Daviess County Public Schools Board of Directors Friday evening as this year’s two recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Award were congratulated for their achievement.

Recognized for his more than 10 years of offering free eye exams to students in schools across the district, Daviess County High School class of 1989 graduate Dr. Robert Hamilton told SurfKY News that he was “a bit surprised”, and found it “very humbling” to learn he’d been chosen as this year’s Distinguished Alumni.

Hamilton said after completing college, he worked in Indiana for eight years, and credited his time there as the reason he began offering the eye care exams when he returned to Daviess County.

Hamilton said he first started the program at Whitesville Elementary, where his wife was working as a guidance counselor. At most schools, the eye care exams are offered to third grade students because they are at the age where they can tell if they have a vision problem, he said. Students who need additional eye testing or optometrist advice are identified in the free screening. Their names are given to the school administration so the children’s parents can be alerted about possible concerns.

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Receiving the Distinguished Alumni Award for Apollo High School was Gregory Dale Smith, a 1991 graduate who obtained his PhD from Duke University in chemistry in 2000.

Smith said he most appreciated the opportunity being named the award recipient presented him earlier in the day.

“The award itself is wonderful, but for me the real treat was getting to talk to bright young students,” Smith told SurfKY News, referring to a visit to Apollo High School he made earlier in the day. During his visit Friday morning, Smith had the chance to address the entire student body.

In accepting the award, Smith said his encouragement for other students was to always follow their passion.

“Following your passions … is something that’s been important in my life,” he said.

Smith said as much as the award was to recognize former graduates, it was also an acknowledgement of the people who helped shape the honoree’s life.

“This is really a celebration of those people, who have supported us through our lives,” he said as he took a moment to thank his parents, his wife and his family as well as the DCPS faculty and staff.

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Smith is the senior conservation scientist at the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s Conservation Science Laboratory. Smith said his chemistry degree allows him to work with the museum on a variety of tasks ranging from determining the authenticity of paintings to determining chemical analyses of artwork. He said the work he performs helps “preserve the cultural heritage” of art.

Dennis Beard
SurfKY News
SurfKY Photos/Dennis Beard

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