Top 50+ Banquet
Abilene Southwest Rotary Club Top 50+ Banquet Logo 

Third Thursday of May

Doubletree by Hilton Downtown Abilene

6:30 pm

The purpose of the Top 50 Plus banquet is to honor academic excellence. The first such banquet was held on March 3, 1960 at the Windsor Hotel. The keynote speaker was Chester H. “Chet” Lauck, president of Continental Oil Company. All 50 honored students were from Abilene High School. In 1962, with the opening of Cooper High School, half of the 50 positions were awarded to that school and half retained by Abilene High.

Until 1981, the Top 50 honorees were only from public schools in Abilene. that year, when Wylie area was brought into the city limits of Abilene, it was decided to include Wylie High School and also Abilene Christian High School, a private school. The Abilene and Cooper High School principals were very reluctant to reduce the number of honorees from their schools, so the top academic grads from Wylie High and Abilene Christian High were added on a pro-rata basis; hence, the banquet became known as the Top 50 Plus banquet. The top graduates of Premier High School, our local charter school were added in 2012, and those from ATEMS in 2013. In 2022, all high schools in Taylor County were added, including Jim Ned, Merkel, and Trent High Schools.

Although the number of students has increased since 1960, the ease of becoming a “Top 50” honoree has not. The percentage of graduating seniors invited to the first banquet in 1960 was 9%, compared with less than 5% currently. In other words, it is almost twice as competitive to become a Top 50 honoree today as it was in 1960.

Featured speakers through the years have included celebrities like Paul Harvey, bank presidents like Marelyn Shedd, and federal judges like Scott Frost.

Rotarians world-wide also support education by contributing to the Rotary Foundation. A total donation of $1,000 allows one to become a “Paul Harris Fellow,” named after the founder of Rotary International. Over 90% of the membership of Abilene Southwest Rotary Club has made this commitment. Through the Rotary Foundation, over 22,000 fully funded scholarships have been awarded to students world-wide, for a year’s study in some country other than their own.

Rotarians believe that liberty of free people is preserved through a commitment to education, and that peace is preserved as a result of world-wide understanding. Over 33,000 Rotary clubs in more than 200 countries support these ideals.