It is one of the most positive stories the Squire covers in the course of a year. Actually, it is over a dozen separate stories.
From every school in the Rockford district, principals and staff have the hard task of picking just one student for a very special honor.
In Examples in Excellence, Rockford Students Making a Difference, we honor young people chosen for their generosity of heart and strength of character.
In a joint effort with Rockford Public Schools, Douglas Photography and The Rockford Squire, students are recognized in print, in portrait photography and in person next Monday, February 8.
Photographer Dan Davison brought to Rockford the idea of recognizing kids for all they do to make a difference in the lives of others.
The students are chosen by the school staff, the first step in a long process that culminates at an unveiling ceremony that will be held at 7:30 p.m. at the auditorium at the Rockford Schools Administration building.
Parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, school staff and the Board of Education recognize these youngsters and first see the biographies and photographs published in an heirloom publication that will be treasured for a lifetime.
Douglas Photography’s Davidson donates his time and cost in taking portraits of the kids and creating large framed photos that will be displayed in the administration offices for the next full year. After, each family is given the portrait as a gift. At the ceremony, the portraits are seen for the first time.
The Squire publishes a keepsake edition supplement to the newspaper, a stand-alone, full color Examples in Excellence, Rockford Students Making a Difference. Supported by local businesses, the publication is also unveiled for the first time at the ceremony before being distributed in the Squire and at participating companies.
“It gives us an opportunity to recognize these very well-rounded students,” said Lisa Jacobs, Director of Rockford Community Education Services. In its ninth year, the ceremony continues to be packed with proud supporters of these students.
“These students are always very humble, very thankful to be recognized,” Jacobs said. Each year the families are thrilled that their child was chosen for such an elite honor and for such a good cause.
“Any time we have an opportunity to recognize student achievement and excellence we should embrace it,” said Dr. Michael Shibler, Superintendent of Rockford Public Schools. “It is really an honor that obviously goes to only a select few, we see parents who are overwhelmed.”
In years past family from out of state have flown in to be present at the evening’s unveiling, where the biographies of each student are read as the young person takes their place of honor on stage.
Kids who volunteer in church, in senior living facilities, for outreach organizations have been selected. Others are recognized for their leadership in kindness to their fellow students. This year has a very exciting group of young men and women who represent true stories of success in heart and selflessness.
“Ever generation is critical of the generation that coming up behind them,” Shibler said. “It’s always the same, I remember it when I was young. This is one example, with these kids, that people should be confident that the future is going to be in good hands. These are young people who excel in community service, in athletics, in academics or on stage. It is a reflection of an entire generation.”
Shibler said it is also a reflection of our community and families, in producing such caring students. It is typical of Rockford in many ways, where the community embraces so many important events, such as Relay for Life, Mitchell’s Run and so many others. Watch next week’s Squire for this year’s Examples in Excellence.