"Athletes and Army Strong Soldiers possess a unique and similar set of strengths," said John Meyers, director of marketing U.S. Army Marketing and Research Group. "We are excited to partner with the Pro Football Hall of Fame and to recognize these outstanding student-athletes; athletes who excel in their area of sport and who also excel academically.
"The most important attribute is that they are upstanding members of their communities," said Myers. "We look forward to joining with the 10 finalists in San Antonio, Texas, in January and celebrating their achievements."
Henbest, along with the other finalists, will have the opportunity to attend the 2013 U.S. Army All-American Bowl at the Alamo Dome in San Antonio, Texas, in January of 2013. The winner of the Award For Excellence will be announced during the Bowl's formal awards dinner on Jan. 4, 2013.
"I've known Drew for two years," said Chris Redmon, Cassville High School principal. "He is an outstanding student and a leader in our school. He's one of those kids who always does the right thing. He makes good decisions. He is an exemplary student-athlete."
In addition to being recognized at the Army All-American Bowl in January, 2013, Henbest will be recognized during a school assembly in November or December. A NFL Hall of Fame football player will likely visit Cassville High School to recognize Henbest as an Award For Excellence finalist.
Henbest has been a member of the Cassville High School Wildcat football team all four years of his high school career. When Gretchen Bussman, high school counselor, approached the Wildcat football coaching staff to request a nomination for the award both David Large and Lance Parnell recommended Henbest.
"Drew is a very high character young man with an outstanding work ethic," said Parnell in a letter of recommendation. "He is an outstanding leader on and off the football field. He is well respected by his peers for his hard work and leadership."
Not only is Henbest a member of the Wildcat football team, but he has also served on Cassville High School's Football Leadership Council.
"In the classroom, Drew shows the same qualities," said Parnell. "He is very active within our school. He is a member of FFA and FCA. Drew is a young man who is a great role model to the young kids in our community."
Kelin Kruse, Cassville High School agriculture instructor, also submitted a letter of recommendation for Henbest.
"Drew excels at anything he does; whether this be in academics, intra/extracurricular activities or his responsibilities at home," said Kruse. "Drew demonstrates leadership in the classroom, organizations and the sports in which he is involved. Students look up to Drew and follow his example, which is a positive one."
Henbest has been an active member of the Cassville High School FFA since his freshman year, said Kruse.
"As a part of the agricultural education program, Drew is developing his Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) Program," said Kruse. "Drew's SAE consists of owning his very own beef cattle and row crops. Each year, he improves and expands the scope of his SAE, which has allowed and will continue to allow for him to win numerous awards within the National FFA organization.
"Not only does he have his own project, but he works very hard on his parents' farm," said Kruse. "These responsibilities, along with his expansion of his SAE, demonstrate certain character traits. Drew has a strong work ethic, vision for the future and the trait to do things correctly and with great care."
In addition to being active in sports and student activities, Henbest understands the importance of community service. Each summer, he takes part in a mission project through his church, Cassville First Baptist.
"I have personally known Drew since he was a young child," Jason Mackey, Cassville First Baptist Church student minister, wrote in another letter of recommendation. "I have been very impressed by Drew's ability to interact with other students. He always seems to reach others with a compassionate heart.
"Drew's willingness to jump in and lend a helping hand is a clear indication of his servant attitude and humility," continued Mackey. "Drew is a very conscientious, outgoing, hard working and intelligent student-athlete."
As a nominee for the U.S. Army Award For Excellence, Henbest was required to complete a 250 word essay defining what excellence means and what character qualities help a student achieve excellence.
According to Bussman, Henbest listed humility, hard work and feeling joy in the completion of hard work as traits required to achieve excellence.
"External recognition is not what truly defines excellence," Henbest wrote in his essay. "It is the internal reward that comes from humble and joyous hard work that really counts."
In addition to football, FFA and FCA, Henbest has participated in track and is a member of the Cassville High School National Honor Society chapter.
"When I emailed the application and all of the attachments on May 5, I truly thought we would never hear anything more," said Bussman. "This is not because Drew didn't deserve to be a finalist; he certainly did. It was because this was a nation-wide nomination process with only 10 young men or women chosen from across the country.
"There would be many, many applications submitted from every state in the nation," continued Bussman. "I thought, 'What are the chances?' That is why I was so absolutely thrilled when I received word in early August that Drew was chosen as one of the 10 finalists. What an amazing honor and accomplishment."
Nominees for the U.S. Army Award For Excellence must hold a minimum grade point average of 3.5 on a non-weighted scale.
Henbest is the only award finalist from the state of Missouri. Other finalists are from Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Illinois, North Carolina, Texas and Maryland.