Niles Community Schools honors outstanding achievers at annual Notre Dame event

Published 7:23 am Thursday, March 4, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The phrase "Breakfast of Champions" is usually associated with Wheaties and athletics, but on Wednesday morning the phrase took on a whole new meaning for high-achieving Niles students.
The third annual "Breakfast of Champions" took place on Wednesday morning and was organized to honor Niles High School and Ring Lardner Middle School students who earned all As during the first semester of the 2003-2004 school year.
The event took place in the Monogram Room, located upstairs in the Joyce Center at the University of Notre Dame.
Niles Director of Curriculum Jim Craig welcomed the 111 students and the students' guests and congratulated them on their outstanding academic achievements.
He encouraged them to continue on their paths to success and pointed out the benefits of high academic achievement.
After a breakfast buffet of pancakes, eggs and bacon, the celebration continued with two speakers, Ryan Kennedy and Keri Pawielski. Both were graduates of Niles High School that have continued their success beyond our community.
Kennedy was up first with a speech titled "High School to College -- Keep on Achieving!"
Kennedy graduated from Niles High School in 2000 and is now attending the University of Notre Dame with plans to graduate this May.
He explained how he knew he wanted to attend Notre Dame at an early age and set goals for himself to make it a possibility.
Kennedy told the students of the importance of hard work and how it will pay off for them in the end.
Craig then explained the two speakers were chosen to demonstrate that there is no limit for what Niles students can achieve.
Pawielski, who graduated from Niles High School in 1995 with all A's, also emphasized the importance of hard work in her speech,"Is It Worth It?"
She graduated from Hope College in 1999 and went on to attend graduate school at Duke University. She is now a pediatric physical therapist at Lakeland Regional Health Care System in St. Joseph.
She said a huge contributing factor in her academic success was the involvement and sacrifices made by her parents, Doug and Ellen Law. Pawielski thinks it is very important for parents to be "partners with their kids."
She also encouraged the students to challenge themselves.
She closed her inspiring speech by telling the audience to follow their dreams and set the goals necessary to make those dreams a reality.