Boyne City Public Schools 2015 People’s Choice Award winners

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Chris Faulknor


Boyne City High School held its annual People’s Choice Awards on Wednesday April 15.

Geared toward rewarding behavior that is outside the norm such as unusual perseverance, kindness and determination, each teacher or staff member had the opportunity to present an award to one student at the banquet.

• “This student always seems to see the bright side of life, regardless of the weather. My life has been blessed by her positive attitude, sunny smile, and Rambler spirit,” began Cindi Place, who spoke of Faith Kreager’s sense of humor and ability to find a way to persevere. “I have had the pleasure of teaching her, coaching her, and helping her grow.”

• David Hills spoke of his daughter, Abby Hills, telling a story about her carving a boat out of a bar of soap with the family.

“She worked hard on the boat, and appreciated the unique value that was given, and wasn’t willing to give it up,” said Hills. “That story, in my mind, illustrates many things about my daughter. She is an introvert in a society that tends to reward outgoing personalities.”

He added, “She finds the value in even the smallest things, and will still rescue worms from the rain.”

• Art Teacher Jim Beckering put on a special outfit to honor his nominee.

“My boots are for her rough, tough, don’t take no gruff personality. She stands up for herself, and more importantly for others, and she has gained my respect,” he said in recognition of Shae Skop. “My pants are bright and colorful, which is a quality often found in this student’s artwork and attire. The jacket recognizes that she has class. My sunglasses are for her bright future, and the fedora hat is for fun.”

• Brandon Ivie recognized Trista Hull.

“She’s always been polite, even a little reserved,” he said. “What I really appreciate is how this student has started to come out of her shell and has taken steps to get out of her comfort zone and take on more responsibility.”

He added, “I love to see young people trying new things, especially things that are going to help them in the future.”

• Linda King recognized Irene Seaver for being a motivated individual, and having the ability to balance extracurricular activities and rigorous curriculum.

“Her biggest accomplishment, however, is that she will have earned her Associate of Arts Degree from North Central Michigan College this May, one month before she graduates from high school,” said King. “This young lady set her goals, and she is determined to make them.”

• John Hertel awarded Kyra Brazell for maturity and ability to maintain excellent academics.

“The way that she is so genuine, I felt I needed to nominate Kyra,” he said.

• Corey Redman was recognized by David Smith for the way he handled a sports injury during this year’s basketball season.

“It would have been very easy for this person to give up,” Smith said. “Instead, he chose to have a positive attitude.”

• Amy Hertel described Sabrina Nemecek as a quiet leader with a positive attitude who makes good choices.

“I took this student on a trip to Puerto Rico in the fall, and it was so much fun to watch this student experience a different culture,” she said. “She was always smiling, and ate every bite of the authentic food put in front of her… I’m so proud of her commitment to experience the trip to its fullest.”

• Don Nohel awarded Spencer Binkley for giving his best effort, trying to make everyone’s day better when he walks into class, and generally being a good upbeat person.

• “Bright, soft-spoken, kind-hearted, unique, true to herself, and one of the most talented individuals I’ve ever met,” began Michele Deming in describing her nominee Sky VanVolkenburg. She described Sky’s performance in High School Musical, the recent drama production. “You rocked those heels and you owned this stage.”

• English Teacher Jeanne Heath described the process of discerning which student to pick before announcing her nominee Molly Korthase.

“Every teacher who had this student in class would be really proud to have her on stage tonight,” Heath said.

• Dale Thomason began by speaking of students he tries to help that never choose to improve. He then mentioned that with some students, their grades slowly improve, and he sees positive change.

“(Calli Mathers’) scores have skyrocketed,” said Thomason. “This student is probably surprised and thinks I haven’t noticed, but I have. I’ve noticed your scores on tests, and when we hold study nights in the media center, I wasn’t at all surprised to see you there.”

• Rachel Kopec described her student as funny, humble, honest and possessing a maturity level not seen in many students.

“This student is a positive influence in Boyne City and helps out with volunteer projects,” she said of Lee Rainey. “I’m so proud of you, and good luck in your future.”

• Nick Redman recognized a student who helps out at events others wouldn’t notice, and talked about how he does so with a smile on his face.

“He cares about his teammates, and he’s a really great friend, and for those qualities, I know he’s going to be successful and live a happy, full life,” Redman said of Trevor Day.

• Teacher and pole-vaulting coach Andy Bryant talked about a student who has consistently met his expectations.

“Pole Vaulting is pretty tough, and this student has done exactly what I’ve asked and expected, and has yet to disappoint me,” said Bryant of Anna Harmeling. “I’ve never picked a freshman for a People’s Choice Award, but I have this year, because I’m in awe of this kid.”

• Khristy Wisson-Powell talked about her nominee Chloe Beek, and described her compassion for others.

“This nominee speaks up for others when they aren’t being treated fairly or aren’t getting the same opportunities as everyone else,” Wisson-Powell said. “This student’s ability to think outside of herself makes her wise beyond her years.”

• Chuck Day thought back ten years ago to his nominee Dalton Gardner, watching him in a little league practice, admiring his skills, and laughing at his attitude and energy. And, despite never having had this student in class, he has coached him for a year.

“He has done nothing but impress me every time he has walked in to the building,” Day said. “He is unselfish to a fault … he is a total team player.”

• Student Success Adviser Erin Bybee announced her winner Jordan Sutton.

“What I find most endearing about this student is (his) kind heart, although at times (he) may show a rough exterior, this student has a heart of gold,” said Bybee. “If this student saw me on the side of the road with a blown tire, (he) would be the one to stop and change it.”

She added, “Whomever Jordan Sutton chooses to spend his time with in the next phase of his life will be lucky to share in his kindness and humor.”

• Principal Karen Jarema recognized Kelly Bellant for his good grades, leadership, and the excellent example he provides to other students, especially in leading more than 30 other students in the school’s robotics program.

“I’ve had the privilege to watch this individual step beyond his comfort level and lead both intentionally, publicly, and also with his heart,” she said.

• Aaron Fritzsche honored new student Adelia Cooper who came in the first day and thanked him after class. As this continued day-by-day, other students picked up the habit, and began saying “thank-you” as well.

“If you’re lucky enough to have a job where someone thanks you for doing your job every day, you realize how cool that is,” he said.

• Counselor Cathy Brown said Josh Gallup, despite struggling academically, has improved greatly this year.

“What I’m awarding him for, though, isn’t based on grades, it’s just for being him,” she said. “I’ve seen him developing skills to be able to take charge of his life and make it better.”

Pam McDowell extolled the virtues of Ann Durbin, adding that she admire’s the student’s ability to encourage and help others.

“If children were like picking flowers, this student would definitely be in my bouquet,” she said before reading from Dr. Seuss’ “Oh, the Places You Will Go.”

• Randy Calcaterra described Kory Skop and his love of running, continuing with the metaphor to describe his performance in everyday life.

“What I’ve learned through the years is not only does he love running to run, but the kid will literally run through glass if you ask him to,” he said.

• Andy Place gave his award to Garrett Fogo, describing his efforts in being the only member of the male cross country team for several years, and Garrett’s patient wait to have a team to join him.

• Jen Michael-Sikora described Amanda Vondra-Speltz as loyal, goal-oriented, focused, trustworthy, smart, fun and a sports fanatic.

“She works for what she wants. She prepares, and is nothing short of amazing, and her obstacles are opportunities to overcome,” said Michael-Sikora.

• Hospitality Teacher Dennis Crissman expressed his pride in Adam Patrick for being soft-spoken and easy to get along with, as well as being helpful in the classroom.

“This person wants to be helpful, and works to do a good job,” Crissman said. “This person reminds me of the number one mission of hospitality, and that is that to be kind to guests and strangers.”

• Mark Pontoni gave Luke Sage credit for stopping to ask questions, and making an effort to learn and improve himself while in his class.

“When this guy walked into my classroom, I kinda knew who he was, and had stories about him making mincemeat of opponents on the football field,” Pontoni said. “I thought ‘OK, another jock. I’ve gotta get this guy throug.’ But, when I had Luke Sage in my class, he asked questions, and they were good questions.”

• Matthew Swank commended Alyssa Petriw for bringing the learning spirit in the classroom with her.

“This student takes the time to ensure that she really understands the information being presented and how she can use it in her life,” said Swank. “When most students are tweeting, snap-chatting, and hanging out with friends, this student has the opportunity and courage to take on any task in life with the lessons she has learned in my class.”

• Megan Neidhamer told a story of Ethan Book and how, as she struggled to politely get off the phone with someone, she observed a student get knocked over. While other students continued running by, Ethan came out of nowhere to help and make the situation better.

“I was so impressed by that, and I don’t even think he knows that I saw it,” said Neidhamer. “I don’t even think Ethan Book even knows how cool of a thing that is, because it doesn’t happen all the time.”

• Sandy Clausen presented the final award to Katelyn Skornia while fighting back tears.

“She’s exactly what I would like my daughters to grow up to be, and she’s exactly who I would like my sons to date,” Clausen said. “You know, there’s nothing I’d change about her.”

Clausen went on to describe Katelyn as being great with kids and a great student.