Leader photo/ALY GIBSON From left, back, Elizabeth Brito, Rebecca Franklin, and, front, Ryan Payne, Angel Luthringer and Yaritza Castillo-Mendez, were named as the September 2012 Students of the Month during the regular board of education meeting at Dowagiac Middle School. Absent from the presentation was Dowagiac Union High School Student of the Month Isabel Vazquez.

Archived Story

Dowagiac honors students for September

Published 9:45pm Monday, October 15, 2012

Six Dowagiac students were honored Monday evening, one from each of the district’s school buildings.

During the regular meeting of the board of education at Dowagiac Middle School,Yaritza Castillo-Mendez, Ryan Payne, Angel Luthringer, Rebecca Franklin, Elizabeth Brito and Isabel Vazquez were named for outstanding student behavior and achievement for the first month of the 2012-2013 academic year. Each student received a Student of the Month Chieftain T-shirt with their name emblazoned on the back, as well as a plaque.

“This is, by far, one of the best things that we do here in Dowagiac,” DMS Principal Matt Severin said to the board.

Board President Michelle Helmuth-Charles agreed, stating that a committee of adults who work in the schools decides which students are chosen.

“It’s based on academics, behavior in and out of the classroom, their attitude,” Helmuth-Charles said. “The biggest percentage comes from academics.”

Helmuth-Charles said the experience connects students to the administrative part of the district.

“It’s awesome,” Helmuth-Charles said.

“It’s a huge connect for us, and for them to see the inner-workings of the school outside of the classroom.”


Castillo-Mendez, a seventh-grade student at DMS, is the daughter of Antonio Castillo-Garcia and Sandra Castillo-Mendez. She was nominated by her English teacher and claims her favorite subject is mathematics, with hopes to attend New York University to become a doctor.

When asked why she thought she was nominated, Castillo-Mendez said she wasn’t sure, but that “maybe it is because I pay attention and don’t disrupt the teacher.”

Payne, a fifth-grader at Patrick Hamilton Elementary School, is musically gifted, playing the organ, keyboard, guitar and drums. Payne also claimed to be a student helper who enjoys trying to aid other students struggling in class.


Luthringer, a fifth-grade student at Justus Gage Elementary School, is the daughter of Lisa and Richard Luthringer. Her favorite subject is reading, and she enjoys drawing, watching movies and caring for her dog and seven rabbits. She was also a member of the fourth-grade spelling bee team.


Franklin is the daughter of Todd and Sharese Franklin and is a fifth-grader at Kincheloe Elementary School. Principal Cathy Stone helped Deputy Supt. Dawn Conner, former Kincheloe principal, present Franklin to the board and audience.

Franklin enjoys dancing and playing softball while at home and her teacher claims she has a “terrific sense of humor and always has a smile on her face.”


Sister Lakes Elementary School named Brito as the September Student of the Month.

As the daughter of Andres and Natalia Brito, the fifth grade student has 11 brothers and sisters and said she would like to be teacher when she grows up.


Vazquez was named as Dowagiac Union High School’s September Student of the Month during the meeting, though she was unable to attend. Vazquez will be honored during the November meeting of the board.

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