Godwin Heights — The word “cheerleader” would probably best describe senior Kevin Zube, because he’s loud and proud when it comes to his school.
“I want to shout it out to all of Godwin that it is a good place to be,” Kevin said. “We’ve got really good kids, especially in this school… and the teachers here really do care about the kids and their education. It is a very caring place.”
Kevin, who has attended the district since first grade, didn’t always feel that way. When he entered Godwin Heights as a freshman he found the transition difficult, he said, especially since grandfather Enrique Duran had recently died.
“There was never a doubt I would go on to college,” Kevin said. “There has always been a push for education in my family. I credit a lot of that to my grandfather. He was a migrant, and he always wanted more for his kids and grandkids.”
Kevin admitted he felt a little untethered when Duran, with whom he was close, died. Math teacher Tracy Kraft noticed he was struggling and offered to help.
“My freshman year was hard, especially math,” Kevin recalled. “I just was lackluster and not making the grade. Mrs. Kraft offered to help me. She worked with me to help me get my grades back up.
“One thing I will remember most about Godwin Heights is the amount of care that the teachers put into their students here,” he said. “They really do care about your education and will put in the time to help you with anything.”
Kraft said she has enjoyed watching him grow as a student and a leader, and hopes his dedication will encourage other students to follow his example.
Remembering his grandfather’s desire for his children to do better, and inspired by his sister Marissa Navarro, a Godwin graduate who earned a full university scholarship, Kevin pushed himself forward.
“I had to try my hardest to make myself do better, for my family and for me,” he said.
Since his sophomore year, Kevin has been on the honor roll. He also joined the teen leadership focus group that looked at ways to address issues at school, as well as the multi-tied systems of support student team. Similar to the MTSS staff team, student members review data on attendance, course proficiency and behavior, and look at ways to improve those areas.
“A lot of kids you see get caught in this cycle where they don’t want to do anything. I want to show them that they can break the cycle, that there are future endeavors that they can succeed just by reaching for them.”– Kevin Zube
Because of his leadership, Assistant Principal Michael Porco recommended Kevin this year to the Michigan Department of Education’s Student Advisory Recovery Council.
“Kevin has overcome many obstacles during his high school journey and used those experiences to empower students and share his wisdom with staff for their continued learning,” Porco said.
Said Kevin: “A lot of kids you see get caught in this cycle where they don’t want to do anything. I want to show them that they can break the cycle, that there are future endeavors that they can succeed at just by reaching for them.”
‘Put Effort into What You Do’
Kevin also joined the broadcasting team this year, where he has found a creative way to address student issues.
“I have to give a shout-out to all the students in that class because they really make it what it is,” Kevin said.
He said a favorite project from broadcasting class was a piece he did on vaping.
“Vaping is a huge problem among students, and they are targeted by the ads,” he said. “My piece focused on abstinence along with the side effects, such as (that) vaping can increase depression.”
And all that while starting his own roofing business, helped by an uncle. Perhaps not surprising Kevin also is an entrepreneur, given his father owns a flooring installation company.
“I have never been one to sit around,” Kevin said. “I go to school from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and usually start work around 4 p.m. On the weekends, I focus on my homework.”
He maintained a 3.8 grade-point average in his last semester, which included taking some courses at Grand Rapids Community College. “Those have really prepared me for what it is going to be like in college,” he said.
He said he is ready to make that transition. His degree choice probably does not come as much of a surprise: business management, at either Michigan State University or Grand Valley State University.
His advice to peers who may be where he was nearly four years ago: “… if you put effort into what you do in school, that it will pay dividends for you in the future. I also want them to know that stress, anxiety and any other emotions you are feeling are completely normal.
“You are not the only one, and you have a safe place to talk about these emotions here at Godwin Heights with your teachers, other staff members and peers.”