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She’s a mentor, performer, editor with ‘a servant’s heart’

Works with elementary children, student reporters

Mary Holohan doesn’t hesitate when asked if she’s a natural leader.

“It’s been a pretty consistent thing throughout my life,” said the Northview High School junior. “I am very open and empathetic. … I love to talk but I love listening to people, and interacting has never been intimidating to me; it’s just fueled who I am.”

Junior Mary Holohan, Roar co-editor, discusses a staff bias exercise with freshman reporter Da’torian Roberts

Besides playing on the volleyball team in the fall, Mary is part of a new group this year of a half-dozen students who travel to the district’s elementary schools as “Camp Wildcat.” They write and perform skits around themes being taught in the buildings such as kindness, safety and caring.

“It was an idea, and we turned it into this actual thing, which was a really interesting process,” Mary recalled. “Going to the schools and performing, and having the kids get into our chants and mottos, it’s like the best thing.”

She also takes part in SEALS, a class that puts high school students into elementary classrooms for leadership and mentoring. Every day she spends 45 minutes at Field School, helping out with kindergartners and first-graders.

“We learn all about ways to deal with certain situations, IQ and EQ and aspects associated with teaching and working with kids, which is really interesting to me,” Mary said.

Nose for News

Betsy Verwys teaches 10th-grade English and is adviser to The Roar student newspaper, which typically appoints seniors as editors. Mary joined in 10th grade and is co-editor. Verwys recalled Mary “had this ability to bring out the best in people, something that’s not always evident in high school sophomores.”

To hear Mary tell it, the credit goes to “being in class with an amazing group of role models.”

It was during her second semester on the Roar staff that Verwys approached her about applying to be an editor.

Northview senior Mary Holohan and third-grader Journey Kemp spend time together outside Field School (courtesy)

“Historically this has been a position held by seniors, but as a sophomore she exhibited such great leadership skills that I opened it up to her,” VerWys said. “And she has exceeded my expectations. She meets writers at their level, casts a vision for the direction of the paper, works hours on her own time to make that all a reality.”

And she does it all, added VerWys, with “a servant’s heart.”

Mary admits “it blew my mind” to be asked to consider the newspaper’s top spot.

“But I was ready for the challenge because I really got to fall in love with the art of telling people’s stories,” she said. “And every day in that class we talk about something that’s real in the world. I think that’s very meaningful.”

And while honing her writing and editing skills and becoming a more savvy news consumer, she said, she also realizes the value of deadline pressure.

“It’s very interesting to have that ongoing pressure that’s not necessarily tied to an immediate grade,” Mary said. “Most things we do in high school is for a grade. In this class we are consistently putting out something that is impactful.

“The skills I’m learning right now are going to be with me throughout my whole life no matter what I do, and I’m very grateful for that.”

See SNN’s entire Student Leader series

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Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio or email Morgan.


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  1. Congratulations to Mary on her passion and success for all she is doing.
    It will be exciting to see what path she follows. No doubt she will continue to shine and make a difference.


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