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Student Leaders

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

From Victim to Advocate: Student Raises Funds, Awareness for Child Abuse Agency

What a night it was. Cascades of glittering lights. Gorgeous gowns and snappy suits. Fine sculpted centerpieces on the tables. And two talented teens dancing elegantly as more than 200 guests watched. The teens were Alicia Monteith and her brother,...

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...

Students Lead Drug, Alcohol Awareness Conference

Two hundred Kent area students, selected for their leadership potential, gathered for a day of lessons and activities as part of the Empowering Youth Leadership Conference at Calvin College. The conference was produced by eight volunteer students from area schools...

Advocating for The Voices of Youth

Behind her beaming smile, Lee High School junior Jisel Ochoa often is considering center-stage topics in national politics: immigration policy, women's rights, gay marriage. Though she's a talented student and runner, Jisel's interests surpass sports and academics. She wants the...

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...

Students Offer Peers a Safe Place to Get Away

The room is buzzing. Kids chomp on pizza as they play chess, a game of “Sorry” and laugh at videos of people doing goofy things. Others chat cheerfully. It’s just what Emma Fraam had in mind when she organized Lunch...

Student Council President Asks ‘Why Not Make a Difference?’

Hector Zoleta lives a line made famous by the late Sen. Edward (Teddy) Kennedy. "Some men see things as they are and say why?" Kennedy said at brother Robert's funeral. "I dream things that never were and say why not?" The...

Student Leader Devotes Fridays to Friendship

It’s a little card with simple directions, but Byron Center High School students know what passing it out results in: smiles, a feeling of belonging, friendship and confidence. The business-style cards circulate the high school, West Middle School and Nickels...

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...

Student Rep Sees School Board Service As Preparation

Parker Fritz is one of those guys you just know is going places. That's why when the Kent City Community Schools Board of Education decided they wanted to mirror neighboring districts by having a student representative, they asked Parker. For the...

‘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...

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 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...

‘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...

Scarred by War, Driven to Make a Difference

Born against the backdrop of war, Bosnian immigrant Katarina Vickovic is driven to take advantage of her second chance, and to help others avoid the heartache she and her family suffered. The Caledonia senior was a baby when her parents...

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...
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