Thirteen students' intent to attend college was celebrated with a signing day event Monday morning in the Mitchell High School cafeteria.

Unlike most signing days for high school students, Monday's event wasn't based on athletics. Instead, the 13 students signed certificates of intent to become educators at the school's first "Future Teacher Signing Day."

"We just wanted to find a way to keep some of our best and brightest students in South Dakota and the Mitchell area," MHS Principal Joe Childs told The Daily Republic. "We know that we need great young minds to be educators in the future, and so we thought we'd celebrate the decision to stay active in lifelong learning by having a Future Teacher Signing Day."

The students that participated in the event include: Jordan Dierks, Jamison Gross, Carter Koons, Payton Morgan, McKenzie Norton, Nicholas Parks, Evelyn Prewett, Jenna Schutte, Bridget Thill, Bailey Thompson, Katelyn Uithoven, Gregory Wegner, Caitlyn Weins, Alisen Young.

Childs said he started planning the event about six weeks ago by asking if any MHS students preparing to graduate had plans to become teachers.

"What makes it a very interesting choice of profession is that it does fulfill our need to serve others," Mitchell School District Superintendent Joe Graves said, addressing the students present before their signing. " ... It does light fires in the imaginations of intellectual young people, because it changes students into skilled contributors who pursue every profession under the sun."

Graves said he hoped the 13 future teachers will find their career paths to be a significant method of service with long-lasting effects.

MHS seniors Carter Koons and Alisen Young both said that service is part of what's motivated them to pursue careers in education.

"I really enjoy chemistry, so when I thought about what I wanted to do, I thought maybe teaching other kids chemistry would be a great career choice," Koons said. "(I would be) able to impact their lives and kind of push them to where they want to go in the future."

Young, who plans to go into elementary education, said she enjoys young children's bubbly personalities and also wants to have an impact on their lives.

Childs said he hopes the signing day event will become an annual way that the school can celebrate its future teachers.

"(Teaching) gives us not just a living but a life. A life of contribution, of meaning, of purpose, a life of service," Graves told the signing students. "Congratulations to each of you on taking the first step toward what I think you'll find a very rewarding, worthwhile life."