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Student Leaders

A series dedicated to students that go above and beyond to serve their school, peers and community.

A ‘drive to do good in the world’

Born in Paris, Léa Schmitt and her family moved to Grand Rapids from France in time for the last few weeks of her sixth-grade year at Breton Downs. She barely spoke English...

Giving back as others gave to them

Three sisters, refugees from Rwanda, devote their Monday evenings to volunteering at the Learning Café, an education center in Grand Rapids that serves refugee children...

Injury, illness can’t hold back this future teacher

Her junior year, another ACL suffered a tear, and that too meant a visit to a surgeon. It was while recovering from that injury that Emily was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma...

Practicing leadership on the playground

Sixth-through-eighth graders are using the skills they learn in the semester-long leadership class and paying them forward helping out at the elementary school to reinforce good behavior...

Getting it All on Film and Dreaming Big

If you want to know a bit about David Tay and the pride he takes in his school, watch this video. It’s a lip-dub he filmed of the high school last spring, a catchy cavalcade of students dancing, running up...

Tireless Go-getter Makes Her Community a Better Place; Dreams of a Brighter Tomorrow

Maria Aguirre likes to help other people's dreams come true: making sure a child has presents wrapped under the tree on Christmas morning, doing her part to fund cancer research, helping distribute grants to organizations doing good in her...

Sharing Her Music to Feed Body and Soul

Playing piano moves Becca Hanson's soul. That's why she makes it about something bigger than herself. She likes to share that feeling – indulgent, she calls it – with others. She's that kind of leader: a poised, soft-spoken doer who...

High School Sideline: Organic Milk

It looks like big things are on the horizon for sophomore and Future Farmers of America member Shannon Good. Shannon is really no "future" farmer; she's already milking cows, driving tractors and cleaning stalls at her family's small dairy and...

This Eagle Scout and 3-point Shooter Gives His All

Kyle Bueche has done exceptional things. As an eighth-grader he was recognized by peers for his fabulous three-point shot in basketball. Now, as a junior, he has earned the top rank in Boy Scouting. Kyle, who has Down syndrome, works...

‘I’ll Saw this Wood Up – I’m Not Scared of It’

From the courtroom to the archery range and beyond, a quartet of female high school students are breaking into fields dominated by males. Two Kent Career Tech Center students were among 32 students across Michigan to receive 2016 Breaking Traditions...

‘I Want to Do Something Big’

If you visit junior Alexis Sell at Crossroads High School, you'll likely find her helping a fellow student, packing care bags for people in need or organizing her report as a Board of Education student representative. But just two years...

High School Student Turns Senior Project into Community Festival

When Byron Center High School senior Evie Misiak wants to make a difference, she goes big. Big like this: Evie had to complete a senior project for National Honor Society with the instructions to "make a difference." So she planned...
'I feel I wouldn’t be productive if I wasn’t involved,' says Sparta graduate Erica Humphreys

Erica Humphrey: Busy Senior with a Lot to Give

Erica Humphreys' grandparents died nearly a year ago, one month apart from each other. The tender care they received in their passing is a key reason the recent Sparta High School graduate says she is bound for Michigan State...

Too Many Student Leaders? No Such Thing, Say GRPS Officials

When Grand Rapids Public Schools officials went looking this year for two student representatives to serve on its Board of Education, they found students like Javonte Jefferson, Henry Atkins and a whole bunch more. In the past, district leaders had...

Senior’s International Efforts to Help Others Influence School Culture

Emily Macalka sees parallels between helping people in the Dominican Republic and her volunteer work in the Comstock Park High School special education classroom. Both experiences have helped the 2015 graduate appreciate what she has and brought happiness to those...

‘Leader of Leaders’ is All About Creating Change

During her shifts as a dietary aide at St. Ann’s Home, 18-year-old Naomi Cuenca likes to chat with 97-year-old Isabel Butkiewicz. “How are you?” Naomi asked her one recent afternoon. “I’m alive,” Isabel cheerfully replied, as she always does. Then she...
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