Governor recognizes South Dakotaâ�?�?s top high school students PIERRE – South Dakota's top high school students should be proud of their accomplishments and take time to personally thank the individuals that helped them succeed, Gov. Mike Rounds told a room full of the state's highest achieving graduating seniors. The governor's comments came during the 19th Annual Academic Excellence Banquet, held Monday, April 27, in Pierre. The top 1 percent of the 2009 high school graduating class, including at least one student from every high school in the state, is invited to attend. Attending from Vermillion High School were Alicia Enterman and April Sun. Gov. Rounds opened his remarks by congratulating the soon-to-be graduates for their accomplishments. "You should be very, very proud," Gov. Rounds said. "You've gone the extra distance – you did something with the gifts that have been provided to you." The governor followed the praise with a series of challenges, asking students to personally thank teachers that have helped them achieve and to honor their parents by continuing to work hard. Gov. Rounds also used the opportunity to persuade South Dakota's top high school students to stay in their home state. "We need you here in South Dakota," the governor said, telling students that the state has fresh opportunities for young people to continue their education. Gov. Rounds said he understands that some students may have already decided to pursue their education out-of-state, but invited them to "come home again" to work and raise a family. Since 1990, Associated School Boards of South Dakota has organized the Academic Excellence Banquet, which is sponsored by the South Dakota Community Foundation and Citibank. Students are encouraged to bring his or her parents and high school principal to join them in celebrating their academic achievement. This year, more than 520 students, parents and educators attended. ASBSD President Duane Alm, a school board member from Aberdeen, served as master of ceremonies. Alm said the event showcases the state school board association's commitment to student achievement. "This is really what a school board's work is all about – student success," Alm said. ASBSD is a private, non-profit organization representing more than 950 South Dakota school board members, the 161 school districts they govern and the students they serve. The organization's mission is to advance public education by empowering local school board leaders and advocating for a thriving public education system.