Students from each school in the Long Beach Unified School District were honored at the Most Inspiring Students Awards held recently at the Long Beach Hilton. The annual dinner event recognizes students who exemplify persistence, tremendous effort, good citizenship and service to their community.
The keynote speaker was Millikan High School alumn Brent Poppen. A sports accident at age 16 caused a spinal cord injury that left Poppen paralyzed for life. He lost the use of his legs, with some paralysis in his upper extremities, yet he went on to compete in two consecutive Paralympics, including Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008, in wheelchair rugby and tennis.
Poppen earned a bronze medal in wheelchair rugby and has received numerous gold medals and world titles in both sports. At the dinner, he encouraged students to focus on what is possible, rather than what is impossible.
“If you listen to people who tell you that you can’t do something, you’re never going to reach your potential,” Poppen said. “We want every student to reach their potential."
After Poppen spoke, he received the school district’s first ever Most Inspiring Graduate Award.
Also addressing the students were members of the Board of Education and LBUSD administrative staff. Millikan High School musicians, singers and dancers performed numbers from their production of “Anything Goes.”