Dowagiac schools celebrate January Students of the Month

Published 1:46 pm Thursday, February 22, 2024

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DOWAGIAC — Six local students have been selected for recognition by teachers and faculty for their outstanding performance in school this January.

Nominated by teachers and faculty from their respective schools in the Dowagiac Union Schools district, Amberley Meyer, Mason Chorba, Hadlie Reiter, Paola Mireles-Veloz, Jenna White and Mindy Jimenez received plaques and T-shirts with their names on them for their accomplishments and attitudes in the classroom.

White is a senior at Union High School. According to her business teacher Judi Henckel, what stands out most about White is her commitment to doing her best and being “a really good human being.” White plans to further her education by attending Davenport University for a degree in business and she hopes to one day own her own coffee shop.

Principal Kelly Millin read aloud a letter from Henckel, who was unable to attend the meeting. Henckel was impressed with the way White handled herself recently when a staff member in the school was experiencing a medical emergency. 

“Some students began speculating about who it might be or what the outcome was,” Henckel said. “I don’t remember her exact words, but before I could say anything, Jenna gently reminded her classmates that whoever was involved was a human first and was someone’s whole world. I couldn’t have said it better and because it came with genuine care and concern from one of their classmates, the rest of the class immediately adopted the same perspective. 

“That kind of influence is rare and cannot be taught.”

Mireles-Veloz is a seventh grader at Dowagiac Middle School. Her favorite class at DMS is science with teacher Pat Lyle because she really loves science. She also enjoys English with teacher Kelly Cromer, who nominated her for this award.

“Mireles-Veloz is an excellent student and is a tremendous help to all of her classmates,” wrote Cromer. “She makes sure to complete her assignments on time and takes great pride in her grades. She is a role model for her peers and encourages others to be positive and do the right things all the time. I can trust and depend on her to be a leader in the classroom and also in the hallways. It’s a pleasure to have Valentina in class.”

Mireles-Veloz hopes to fulfill her dreams of attending the University of North Carolina to play soccer and one day be a part of the National Women’s Soccer League.

Meyer is a first grader at Kincheloe Elementary and was nominated by her teacher, Cari Soderbloom.

Her favorite subject in school is math because she can do lots of problems and they are easy for her.

Outside of school, Amberly enjoys playing with her little sister. She also participates in youth basketball and is taking ballet. When she grows, Meyer would like to become a veterinarian because she loves animals and wants to keep them healthy. She enjoys being part of 4-H and she’s also on the open circuit for pig showing.

“Amberley is definitely a great student to have in class,” Soderbloom said. “I did ask her classmates one day when she wasn’t in class why they thought Amberley was picked for this and they said she is kind, she’s helpful, she plays with them during recess time and that she helps them with their math work. She stands in line nicely, she’s funny, she’ll partner with anybody and she likes math games. Those are some great attributes her classmates have noticed.”

Jimenez is a first grader at Patrick Hamilton Elementary and was nominated by her teacher, Jennifer Clanton. Her favorite subjects are math and reading. She loves math because she learns lots of new things and she loves reading because she can read to her sister, who is four. At home, she enjoys playing Roblox and Barbies with her best friend. When Jimenez grows up, she wants to become a teacher because she wants to help students learn and learn new things like she does. Clanton described Jimenez as “responsible, safe and a great student” and said that she sees great things in her future.

Chorba is a first grader at Justus Gage Elementary and was nominated by his teacher Nancy Northrop.

Chorba is described as a conscientious and hard worker who completes all of his assignments with diligence and determination and actively participates in all class discussions. Academically, he has scored in the 98th percentile on both his math and reading assessments throughout the year.

His favorite subject is reading because he can learn new stuff he does not already know from books. Mason wants to be an NFL football player or a firefighter when he grows up. When asked why he was selected as a student of the month, his response was “I’m well behaved during carpet and whole group time.” Mason was asked what makes him a Justice Gage hero and he said “I’m always nice.”

Reiter is a first grader at Sister Lakes Elementary and was nominated by her teacher, Robin Ennesser, who described her as “kind, helpful and a good friend to everyone in our class.”

When it comes to working in class she participates, she gets to work right away and always tries her best. Hadley has made tremendous growth on both of her i-Ready assessments this year, with a 91-point improvement in math and 86 points in reading.

Reiter enjoys arts and crafts. Her favorite thing to do at school is math. Her favorite time of the year is the spring because she likes to play outside and she likes Valentine’s Day. According to Ennesser, Reiter would like to be a teacher when she grows up. 

“Hadlie is the kind of student that anyone would love to have in their class,” she said. “I feel very lucky to have had her in our class this year.”

Board approves hiring of math specialist

In Dowagiac Union Schools Board of Education meeting business, the board approved the hiring of Kathryn Kohli to be a math interventionist at Dowagiac Middle School. According to superintendent Jonathan Whan, Kohli’s family recently moved to the area from Canada.

“She has extensive experience at the middle school level and that’s why we saw her as a good fit. She has a great heart for kids, excellent knowledge and we’re looking for great things from her.”

The board also accepted the resignation of Claudia Zebell from the high school’s media specialist position. Zebell, of Dowagiac, is the owner of downtown boutique Rosy Tomorrows and was as a past member of the board of education who spent years volunteering with PTO, band boosters, athletic boosters and more.