Seventy years later, Patricia Darveaux was back at Abraham Lincoln High School for the school’s Dr. Erickson Hill award presentation.
This time Darveaux, 87, was presenting the annual award honoring an A.L. student for their service to the school and community. Recently-graduated senior Molly Higgins was this year’s winner at the school’s senior recognition event on May 17.
Darveaux was the first recipient of the distinction seven decades ago.
“I feel really blessed and honored to win it. It means a lot to me bc personally it’s important to me to get involved in serving the community,” Higgins said. “That’s just one of my main goals in life.”
“It was great to be able to give her the award,” Darveaux said.
Higgins was chosen after a vote by students and teachers. She explained a form was sent to students a few months ago, who could nominate two names for the award. Of the top vote recipients of that phase, teachers a winner.
“It’s good to have that recognition — it’s proof that the work I do has an impact on others,” Higgins said, noting, “I was a little surprised. There are others students who I thought were equally deserving. I was surprised it didn’t go to them.”
Higgins said her school and community service comes mainly through her involvement in student council, the National Honor Society and Key Club. She is also involved in speech, choir and tennis.
“I don’t think one of us deserved it more than the others,” she said. “I’ve gotten to know some really hardworking people through student council and National Honor Society. I feel there are many people who could’ve won the award.”
Darveaux received the award in 1951, when she graduated at age 17.
“It was a brand new award then. I happened to be the one that received it,” she said. “When I received it I was very shocked. A funny story, they had to yell at me — I was clear up on the bleachers talking to somebody — they yelled at me that my name was being called. Someone handed me the trophy and I started to walk off with it. They stopped me and said ‘You can’t take that home, we inscribe your name on it.’
“After 70 years, this blows my mind. Who would’ve expected I’d be awarding the 70th awardee this same trophy?”
Higgins said it was great to receive the award from Darveaux.
“It’s a cool experiences for teenagers like me to see someone who lived so long ago, to think about them going thru the same experiences,” she said. “It was a really cool experience.”
Next up for Higgins is the University of Iowa, where she’ll study economics with an eye toward one day working for a nonprofit.
After high school, Darveaux embarked on a lengthy and successful career as a professional pianist that took her around the world. But she’s always called Council Bluffs home.
“I’ve always stayed here because this is my roots and my family. I’m very sentimental about things. This is where I wanted to stay,” she said.
Darveaux said she was excited and honored when the school asked her to present this year’s award, calling it “a great privilege.” And she passed a note on to Higgins the night of the ceremony:
“Think good before you act, and be kind and be grateful. And may all your hopes and dreams come true.”