?I am speechless.? Jeff Hufford said and that was probably a first. Hufford, Rushville Consolidated High School speech teacher and Rushville Talk Team mentor was named Citizen of the Year Monday night by the Chamber of Commerce at its annual meeting at Rushville Elementary School cafeteria.
Hufford was obviously surprised when the honor was announced by guest speaker Dan LeClerc, one of his former students who is now an Indianapolis advertising executive. LeClerc, a 1975 RCHS graduate, gave a zesty half-hour talk on ?leading significant lives? that urged listeners to find a mission and purpose in life. It was at the end of his speech that he listed three individuals who he felt exemplified that quality: Thomas Jefferson, Robert E. Lee and?Hufford.
LeClerc praised Hufford for his role in fostering excellence in other people. ?Some people are important to us because they talk to us, some people are important to us because they teach us to talk.? Hufford was visibly moved and humbled by the honor saying there ?are about 200 people in this room who deserve this more than I do?There?s no way I can say thank you.? He said he was proud to teach at ?a great high school.?
Hufford, in his 17th year of teaching speech, English and radio at RCHS has led the RTT to repeated distinctions. The RTT has been ranked in the top 10 speech teams in the state seven time; placed second in the state in ?78 and ?79; and sent 13 individuals to the national finals through the years. The highest level reached by an RTT member came in ?86 when Pat Blair placed second in the nationals. The local chapter of the National Forensic League is ranked in the top 50 in the country and Hufford has been inducted into the Indiana Speech Coaches Hall of Fame, which has only about 30 members. Former Hufford students include Indiana Secretary of State Joe Hogsett.
Margaret Mullins was awarded the Athena Award by Marge Cordray of Hubler Chevrolet in recognition of outstanding achievement by a woman.