BY CHRIS FAULKNOR, PUBLISHER
The 2017 Boyne City High School People’s Choice Awards honored over two dozen students this year on April 5 at Boyne City High School.
This 3,000-word article offers the most in-depth coverage of this year’s awards that you will find anywhere. Each of the nearly thirty winners from Boyne City High School are given a spotlight in the article, with comments from the person who nominated them for their award.
Pictured in the featured photo is Emma Vondra and her parents. Photo by Chris Faulknor. For many more photos, see our photo gallery post.
The People’s Choice Awards are unique to the plethora of awards and honors bestowed upon the high school students in Boyne City, with the defining characteristic, ironically, the lack of criteria.
Each teacher, coach, and support staff member is given the opportunity to select one high school student in any grade to present with a People’s Choice Award.
Historically, awards have been conferred for reasons including good character as a student walked their sibling to school, kindness in helping another fellow student, hard work on a project, and even generally displaying a good attitude.
The 2017 award began with an introduction by teacher Michele Deming.
“Parents, family members, and friends: thank you for sharing your students with us,” said Deming. “I know you’re as proud of them as we are.”
Deming began her nomination by describing the relationship she has had with a student since their Freshman year.
“She is one of the most caring individuals I have ever met. She looks out for others before she looks out for herself. She is positive, even in the toughest times, and we have both had some tough times together,” said Deming.
“When one of us struggled, the other was there with a smile, a hug, or a message to make sure the other one was okay. I want her to know how much I appreciate her.”
Art Teacher Jim Beckering chose a student he admires.
“I selected him because I respect and admire him. I respect that he is a person who follows his own path, not wavering for peer pressure, or to please others,” said Beckering.
“I admire him because of his vision. He literally has the ability to visualize and then create with incredible skill, and I believe he will use these abilities to see himself and build himself a great future.”
Band Director Brandon Ivie selected a student for standing out.
“My nominee truly represents what a Boyne City band member is,” said Ivie.
“She is a talented musician, as many are, but she is a hard worker. She’s dedicated to improving herself and those around her. She is often one of the first ones to volunteer when things need to be done in the school.”
Further, Ivie acknowledged his nominee’s leadership skills.
“She’s a leader that doesn’t have to have all the attention to herself. She stands out amongst many excellent young men and women,” said Ivie.
Assistant Principal John Hertel focused on a student for his attitude.
“Every day when I make my rounds in the morning, in the cafeteria, and especially at lunchtime, when I go to lunch, I’m walking around the cafeteria he puts a smile on my face pretty much every day with a compliment or a funny story,” said Hertel.
Cindi Place nominated a student for their maturity.
“When life throws this young lady a curve ball she tends to pick it up and throw it right back at them,” said Place.
“She pushes me to be a better teacher, a better coach, a better person. This is the kid, who when she overhears gossip, makes her presence known and stands up for the person that’s being gossiped about. She’s not always the popular person in that respect, but I respect and admire her ability to do that and speak her mind.”
Amy Hertel chose a student for her personality.
“This person is modest, caring, polite, and respectful she works hard at the school, holds down a part-time job, is involved in co-curriculars, and volunteers in her spare time,” said Hertel.
“I have never heard her say ‘I can’t,’ or ‘I don’t want to,’ She’s never groaned when given a daily task. Instead, what I have noticed is that she’s one of the first people to jump in and take on that task that I give to her.”
Hertel also praised her nominee for her love of learning.
”You are the type of girl who I hope my daughters grow to be like. And I can’t wait to hear all about your adventures.”
Media Center Supervisor Flo Smith admires her nominee for her hard work as an aide.
“She checks the copy basket faithfully and gets to work without prompting,” said Smith.
“Teachers request her for jobs knowing they will be completed quickly, carefully, and always delivered with a smile.”
Building Trades Instructor Don Nohel found one of his student’s attitude to be commendable.
“This person has the ability to brighten the room by just walking in,” said Nohel.
“When this person smiles at you, you can’t help but smile back. She exudes a love for life that is contagious.”
Principal Karen Jarema chose a student—her son—in spite of their relation, because she felt he deserved recognition.
“I’ve had the unique opportunity to know this young adult through many facets of life and by looking through many lenses. They are my choice for this year’s award but not because of this but actually in spite of this,” said Jarema. “This individual displays a great many characteristics that I greatly admire and hope that all of our students aspire to have. They have dedication to the many teams he’s been a part, to academics, and doing what he loves. He is responsible. He seemed to know as a freshman that he was responsible for the type of student and person that he wanted to be, and he’s taken that responsibility, made good choices, and is relied on by many.”
Pam McDowell felt perseverance was a worthy attribute.
“Respectful, kind, helpful, a great role model, extremely hard working are all ways of describing my nominee,” said McDowell.
“For this student, quiet and steady conquers the challenge. Whether it’s performing a solo, taking calculus, or building a bow for his next hunting expedition, he perseveres.
Government teacher Mark Pontoni picked a student for his response to challenges.
“My People’s Choice Award winner has seen plenty of challenges and occasional struggles in the classroom to a rash of untimely injuries. I’m sure he wishes he had a chance for a couple of do-overs. But I have never seen him give up,” said Pontoni.
“He’s always owned his mistakes and struggled to learn from them and to make it up, most importantly, to those who suffered because of the mistakes he made. I’ve never seen him waver in his loyalty to those who went to bat for him when others, many of us, have turned their backs.”
Bobbi Sue Reinhardt
Pam Crouch chose a student who exhibits wisdom.
“I’ve known this student since the ninth grade and even back then, in the ninth grade, she was wise for her years,” said Crouch.
“I see her as a young adult who is responsible, talented, and a positive influence to her peers.”
Health teacher Josh Fritch picked empathy.
“My candidate not only has the ability to understand someone else’s feelings, she steps in their shoes and tries to walk with them,” said Fritch, telling a story of his nominee’s response to an argument.
“She goes out of her way to make sure that everybody feels welcomed, that everybody feels like they’re special. And she herself is a very special girl.”
Drama director Mike Houser picked a student for his hard work on the drama shows.
“The drama program is unique in that it is a really, truly a team activity. Everybody’s individual contribution makes the show better, and we need every single person to do that,” said Houser.
“It’s just that certain people have more of that weight on their shoulders than others, and their sophomore year, they showed that they were up to that task, that you were able to build a show on their shoulders, and they were not only able to shoulder that, but help other people through the program as well.
First-year teacher Nicole Seymour admired her nominee’s self-understanding, telling a story of her nominee coming to realize that she begins well and loses motivation.
“I told her just work hard and you’ll do fine. I believe in you. You need to believe in yourself. And she did,” said Seymour.
“We’d also had a foreign exchange student in a class with us. And as you can imagine, coming in, English speaking and trying to get into textbooks and some of the assignments, this student really sat down and worked with her. And when she wasn’t doing her own lessons she was working with the student, so much so that other students in the class started gravitating towards her leadership and her really being a mentor, and I would just beam with pride because it was so wonderful to really see that in action.”
Science teacher Shelly Brya chose a good athlete and student.
“This young man is incredibly motivated in the classroom. He’s very focused. He’s also very talented on the athletic field, but there’s a couple of qualities about him that make him stand out for me, and one of them is that he’s incredibly humble, and he’s also a very kind young man,” said Brya.
Further, she used a set of song lyrics to describe her nominee: “Hold the door. Say please. Say thank you. Don’t steal. Don’t cheat and don’t lie. I know you’ve got mountains to climb. Always stay humble and kind. When the dreams you’re dreaming come with you, when the work you’ve put in is realized, let yourself feel the pride, but always stay humble and kind.”
Business teacher Tony Cutler gave his presentation via Skype while his class was at an event.
“Tristan is our student section leader and does a great job. And for that reason, he’s my People’s Choice Award,” said Cutler.
Christine Nothstine made her choice based on attitude.
“When I think of a positive student at Boyne City High School, this student is the first one I think of,” said Nothstine.
“When I met this young man, he bounded into my classroom with a smile on his face and eagerness to learn, just the motivation to make himself better and make his classmates better, and a positive attitude that just brightened the entire classroom.”
Dave Willson chose two characteristics on which to base his nomination: integrity and heart, going so far as to define integrity with Webster’s Dictionary.
“For as long as I’ve had the pleasure of knowing this student, she has never shied away from doing the right thing in dealing with what most people would try to avoid,” said Willson.
“The second characteristic I admire is this student’s heart. This person has shown a passion and enthusiasm for everything she does. Not a day goes by where this is not shown by work in the classroom, in the arena of athletics, or an enthusiastic smile in the hallway.
Finishing his speech, Willson thanked Annika’s parents.
“I also want to pay tribute at this time to this person’s parents for the great job they have done encouraging and instilling these qualities in their child.”
English teacher Katherine Palmer, teaching for her first year, had trouble picking just one student, but said that after some thought, one stood out.
“Tonight I’m honoring a young lady whom I rarely see without a smile. This student is in my English class that meets sixth hour, which is a time when most students at the end of a long day would rather be someplace else,” said Palmer.
“But this student always enters the classroom with a smile and a positive can-do attitude, looking forward to what she will learn in class this day although English may be a subject she has struggled with in the past, she is a girl who works hard to improve and always gives 100 if not 110 percent effort on every assignment, even the most minor assignment.”
Further, Palmer praised this student’s goals.
“This student has shown she has a dream in her heart to study and possibly work as an artist someday. And she appreciates how the work she does at Boyne City High School will help her to accomplish her goal someday.”
Counselor Cathy Brown picked her nominee with his preparation for the future in mind.
“He has successfully managed college and scholarship applications, campus visits, orientations: a world which he knew very little about but kept at it even though it was new and confusing at times,” said Brown.
“He’s just a good kid. I always enjoy interacting with him. He’s the kind of person who you could count on to pull you out of a ditch. He would be helpful. I know I could count on him.”
Visual Imaging instructor Randy Calcaterra chose to tell a story.
Calcaterra spoke of a time when the students working on the Rambler Sports Network wanted to enter a competition which he didn’t feel they had time to do.
His nominee persisted, and with the help of the other students, was able to get the project done in spite of two snow days.
Further, his nominee found a replacement for himself at another activity so that he could get the project done on time.
“I’m always very impressed with people that take self-direction, and are self-motivated, and that’s so cool,” said Calcaterra.
“It turned out after I thought it wasn’t going to be so hot, it turned out to be an outstanding experience for the student body, for the team, for the community, and for a positive relationship with MHSAA.”
Hospitality instructor Dennis Crissman praised a student for overcoming shyness and exhibiting hard work.
“This person has been a good student, not only completing their classroom assignments but also have done very well in kitchen instruction and learning how to be successful in a sometimes very tough environment,” said Crissman.
“Even though this person is somewhat shy, they have forced themselves to do what is necessary to be successful. To be successful in the hospitality industry, you must have a passion to serve and put others first, while continuing to provide excellent service and products.
Further, he praised this student’s involvement in Skills USA and her upcoming participation in Culinary Boot Camp this summer in Kentucky.
Chuck Day, despite knowing his nominee through coaching basketball, said that his nomination has nothing to do with basketball.
“He is one of the most respectful, polite kids I’ve ever been around,” said Day.
“He says ‘please,’ he says ‘thank you,’ he asks you how your day is going, which is nice as a teacher to hear sometimes.”
Further, Day praised his student’s evolution over time.
“I’ve watched a huge change in this young man as far as his role on our team and his excitement, and I watched him get the student section involved with our team. He got everybody enthusiastic about the games.”
English and Social Studies Teacher Ross Daniels, being in his first year at Boyne City schools, took a kindred spirit approach with a new foreign exchange student from Hungary.
“I had the joy of getting to know him as an individual, as a student with an excellent personality and a unique willingness to try something new,” said Daniels.
“The reason I’d like to recognize this student is not only because of his individual abilities in the classroom but also because of his tremendous ability to adapt. Coming here and being someone new in the community and the school, he was able to adapt, but he has really taken that to another level and thrived in this new school, community, and culture.”
Math Teacher Jason Terryberry admired one student for helping in the classroom.
“There was one student who did stick out. This person is always willing to help out in the classroom,” said Terryberry.
“She reaffirms me becoming a teacher, and I hope I’ve been a positive influence on her life.”
Volleyball coach Mallory Slate picked out a student for their hard work.
“I first met this young lady when she tried out for the JV volleyball team three years ago, which was also my first year of coaching. She made the team and that’s where we started our journey together,” said Slate.
“Her motivation and contagious smile is what stuck out to me the most. She did everything she could to make her team better, starting with herself and her own skills. This person came to every team camp, every scrimmage, every open gym, and every youth camp that she could. By her senior year, she had improved her skills so much that it earned her a starting spot on the varsity team, which I know was what her main goal was when she first started,” Slate added.
Basketball coach Nick Redman also chose a student for his hard work.
“My nominee first earned respect by all his teammates by working incredibly hard to reach his goal, which was just to make the team and to be part of something special because he wasn’t born, I would say, physically gifted like maybe some kids,” said Redman.
“Once on that team, he always went above and beyond to show how much he totally cared about the success of the group.”
Sandy Clausen chose a student of good character.
“She is an excellent leader both by example and as well as being vocal. She is competitive, wants to win, and wants others to win just as much as she wants to win,” said Clausen.
“She is committed to her team. In fact, the day volleyball ended, the following day she was rallying her softball teammates to be in the weight room all winter long. And they were.”