A group of freshmen display their award certificates outside the school cafeteria. Twenty-two students were honored for their positive contributions to their classrooms in a short ceremony Thursday morning.
A group of freshmen display their award certificates outside the school cafeteria. Twenty-two students were honored for their positive contributions to their classrooms in a short ceremony Thursday morning. (Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)

Archived Story

Freshmen recognized for impact on classroom

Published 6:31am Friday, December 13, 2013

Typically, high school students are rewarded for their academic prowess or their achievements made in athletics.

However, the teachers and administration at Dowagiac Union High School decided to shine a spotlight on the unsung heroes of the classroom, the teenagers whose hard work and dedication forms the backbone of a productive learning environment.

Twenty-two freshmen were honored during a short ceremony Thursday morning and given a certificate and voucher for a free Pizza Hut personal pan pizza by Principal Pieter Hoekstra. The awards were the latest in the school’s 2-year-old “Youth Experiencing Success” program, which is focused on recognizing the achievements of the school’s freshman class.

The students honored during the ceremony were selected by their teachers for their contributions to the classroom, their marked improvement in grades since the beginning of the period or for their hard work throughout the fall semester, said Doug Pearson, the school’s student advocate.

“A lot of these students that were present today don’t typically get recognized,” he said.

In making their selections for the awards, the 10 teachers who participated didn’t look at GPA or test scores in determining which students to pick. Instead, the educators look at factors such as attitude and drive to succeed, Pearson said.

This is the second year that Dowagiac Union High School has partnered with Pizza Hut for this award. Pearson worked with Stacy Behnke, the Dowagiac store manager, to provide the coupons to students.

“[Behnke] has been very supportive of our students,” Pearson said.

Last month, the school partnered with McDonald’s, giving vouchers for free extra-value meals to freshmen who earned high marks on their report cards during the first marking period.

The YES program is still in its infancy, with much room to grow, Pearson said. The educator wants to partner with more local businesses, in hopes of being able to reward students in higher grades as well.

“We think that any business or corporation could come with something to give to students who do well in school,” Pearson said.

Pearson encourages any business interested in participating in the YES program to reach out to him, at dpearson@dowagiacschools.org.

Students honored on Thursday are:

• Roy Payne

• Terra Beardsley

• Isaiah Clark

• Alyssa Starrett

• Kristopher Wigent-Kinyon

• Jeffrey Holloman

• Sierra Alspaugh

• Miracle Drake

• Antonio Lear

• Gavin Green

• Josh Cloud

• Genaro Sotelo

• Julio Moreno

• Roel Rios

• Macey Hess

• Dakota Luna

• Abby Klann

• Jordan Alejo Martinez

• Jarajay Bryant

• Justin Taggart

• Kevin Whitaker

• Kendall Race

By using this website’s user-contribution features, including comments, photo galleries, or any other feature, you agree to abide by the terms of use. Please read this agreement in its entirety because it contains useful information that will help you better understand the rules and general "good manners" that are expected when contributing content to this website.

Editor's Picks

shoes