Ashley Gremel

Rockford High School’s Ashley Gremel, an Example in Excellence

May 20, 2010 // 0 Comments

Generous spirit seeks to help the less fortunate Ashley Gremel, 17, is the daughter of Meredith and Andrew and sister to Emily. She is described as a most-dedicated student with a generous heart, who seeks to help the less fortunate. Ashley has a jovial spirit and is a leader on her swim and water polo teams. She knits mittens and hats for the indigent, and runs the semi-annual blood drive at Rockford High School. She is a leader in Youth Initiative, a community service organization at Rockford High School. Among examples of Ashley’s accomplishments are her position as captain of her swim team, Youth Initiative treasurer, blood drive coordinator, and founder of her Cast Off the Cold knitting and donation program. Through Cast Off the Cold, volunteers have donated over 1,400 scarves to the homeless in Grand Rapids and Lansing. Ashley founded this organization in 2007 when she was just 15. Ashley is a Dartmouth Book Award winner, is recognized on the Principal’s Honor Roll, is a YWCA Tribute Award nominee, a four-year member of the varsity swim and water polo teams—and a member of the 2008 state championship swim team—twice an Academic All State, and scored over 30 on her SAT. Other activities Ashley enjoys are marching band, where she plays alto saxophone, and wind ensemble, where she plays bassoon. She also enjoys knitting, being outdoors and playing with her two dogs. Friends and staff describe Ashley as “always upbeat and positive,” despite a tremendous schedule and multitude of tasks. Ashley believes in losing herself in the service of others and pours herself into all she does. She believes in changing the world from a place where people are focused on serving themselves to a world where people are focused on serving humankind.

Gremel awarded Congressional Medal of Merit

April 22, 2010 // 0 Comments

Rockford senior Ashley Gremel has been recognized by the United States House of Representatives with the highly prestigious Congressional Medal of Merit. Gremel was recognized at a ceremony Saturday, April 17 at the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids. Congressman Vern Ehlers stated, “This award is being presented to you in recognition of your many achievements in the areas of academic excellence, school citizenship and community service. Your enthusiasm and dedication are qualities that all good leaders possess and strive to instill in others. You are truly an outstanding example of what is good about our young people today. Ashley’s nomination from Rockford High School read, “Generous spirit seeks to help the less fortunate: are the words used to describe Ashley. This exceptional young woman has a jovial spirit and is captain of her swim and water polo teams.  She also serves as Youth Initiative Treasurer, Blood Drive Coordinator, and Founder of the Cast Off the Cold Knitting and Donation Program. Through this effort, volunteers have donated over 1400 scarves to the homeless in Grand Rapids and Lansing. Ashley founded Cast Off in 2007, when she was just 15.  Always upbeat and positive, Ashley is a Dartmouth Book Award Winner, is recognized on the Principal’s Honor Roll, and is a YWCA Tribute Award Nominee.  She is a Four Year member of the Varsity Swim and Water Polo Teams and band, twice recognized as Academic All State, and she scored over 30 on her ACT.  Ashley believes in changing the world from a place where people are focused on serving themselves to a world where people are focused on serving humankind. The Congressional Medal of Merit is bestowed on one outstanding senior from each high school in the Third Congressional District (45 high schools total).  These students have demonstrated exemplary citizenship and academic excellence in their high school careers. They have been leaders in the areas of peer respect, community service, school citizenship, and involvement in extracurricular activities.  The students who receive a Congressional Medal of Merit have significantly contributed to making their school a better place and did not seek or expect recognition for their extraordinary efforts.

Gremel earns prestigious Morehead-Cain scholarship

March 18, 2010 // 0 Comments

Rockford High School senior Ashley Gremel has been awarded the prestigious Morehead-Cain Scholarship to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This full four-year scholarship is based on merit, moral force of character, commitment to lifelong learning, dedication to fitness and physical activity, and leadership. Of the 1700-plus applicants from throughout the world, less than four percent received this invitation. Students outside of North Carolina must be nominated by an approved nominating institution. Rockford High School received its nominating credentials in 2007 after a vigorous selection process (less than ten schools in the State of Michigan qualify as a nominating school). Rockford High School Principal Dan Zang said, “We are so excited for Ashley; she is a phenomenal young lady! This is the most comprehensive scholarship I have seen in my 22 years in education.” According to the Morehead-Cain Foundation, “The scholarship is truly an experience that will last a lifetime. Over the course of four undergraduate years, Morehead-Cain Scholars begin to forge relationships with a vibrant network of nearly 3,000 Morehead Alumni—some of the most influential and prominent people in a wide array of careers around the globe. Scholars also meet and work with Summer Enrichment Program sponsors in the U.S. and abroad, many of whom become mentors and potential employers. In exchange, Scholars are expected to make a perpetual commitment to lifelong personal growth through hard work, discipline, humility, and compassion. Morehead-Cain Scholars accept rigorous challenges that may intimidate others. They embrace obstacles as opportunities to lead. They understand that with great gifts come even greater responsibilities.” A few of Ashley’s accomplishments in Rockford include: • Founder of Cast Off the Cold (a community service initiative which has donated over 2,000 hand-knit scarves, hats, and mittens to homeless missions throughout West Michigan and Lansing) and subsequently, “United We Knit,” in which 300 hand-knit items were donated to the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans ( • Treasurer of RHS’s Youth Initiative Community Service Club, including fundraising efforts to secure more than $42,000 and recruit volunteers for a Habitat for Humanity project • Coordinator of RHS’s MI blood drive • Four-year letter in swimming, water polo, marching band, and academics • Recipient of the 2010 Congressional Medal of Merit award • Recipient of the Dartmouth […]

RHS Youth Initiative launches community-wide effort to build Habitat for Humanity home

October 15, 2009 // 0 Comments

This summer, a group of Rockford High School (RHS) students active in their Youth Initiative Community Service Club met with school administration, their club advisor, RHS English teacher Dan Modderman, and representatives from Habitat for Humanity of Kent County to discuss a partnership like none other undertaken by Youth Initiative. The club wanted to work with the local Kent County Habitat affiliate to build a LEED-certified home for a hardworking Habitat homebuyer during the 2009-10 school year. They knew this was no small task. In fact, the club would have to raise $75,000 to underwrite the cost of the home, volunteer 2,000 hours to build it, and secure skilled labor and building products. In doing so, the students would leave a legacy while helping a family realize the American dream. Plus, they would learn a lot about homebuilding, how to collaborate for a common goal, and more about their fellow classmates and community. In short, they would be a part of something much bigger than themselves. Since August, the club of over 100 students has rallied and kicked off a number of fundraisers, including: • volunteering to run the children’s activities and games at the Heirloom Tomato Festival and Rockford’s three weekends of Harvest Fest, collecting donations for their help; • running numerous bake sales at the high school and before home football games; • selling cider at the home football games; • selling pancakes before school. Their efforts have accumulated more than $5,000 to date, but most importantly, the students are getting the word out, gathering support and planning additional fundraisers on a larger scale. Habitat representative Kathy Forzley is also working with Youth Initiative officers to prospect and plan corporate visits. Youth Initiative is excited to partner with the HEART of Rockford Business Association and its Community Unity fundraising program. From October 15 to 31, anyone who presents a Community Unity ID card when shopping or dining at any of the participating HEART businesses will help raise money for the Rockford-Habitat build. Participating businesses will donate 10 percent of the cardholder’s sale to Youth Initiative. Participating businesses include: A Charmed Life… Nail Salon, Aunt Candy’s Toy Co., Baskets in the Belfry, Bow Dacious Designs, The Corner Bar, Creative Concepts, Dam Dogs, G. Willikers, […]

Girls water polo near upset at West Ottawa

May 7, 2009 // 0 Comments

by PATRICK KEELEY The West Ottawa Panthers water polo girls celebrated senior night at their pool when they hosted the Rockford Rams on Thursday, April 30. Rockford quickly took control with two goals and it looked like a Ram party instead. Then West Ottawa stopped the Rams’ next scoring try and scored themselves, and the battle was on. Then, both teams each scored three more goals, and Rockford led at the half, 5-4. Kelsey Vermeer scored her third goal of the day to make it 6-4, but West Ottawa defense clicked and the Panthers came back with one goal in the third. Then the Panthers tied the score at six apiece with five minutes to play in the fourth quarter. Molly Wooldridge got the ball in the hole and, with a player drowning her, managed to get a shot off and beat the goalie to give the Rams a one-goal lead. A minute later, Christina Weston looked right and zinged one left into the left side of the net for the final goal to give the Rams a hard-fought 8-6 victory. With the win, the Rams need only one more win-against East Kentwood on May 5, which is also senior night for Rockford-and they will be undefeated in league play. Rockford’s water polo girls have been incredibly busy for the last two weeks, with the varsity and junior varsity teams playing almost 20 games each. The varsity team managed to beat Grand Haven, Hudsonville and Zeeland twice each, plus Grandville, Forest Hills and East Grand Rapids once each. But a tournament final loss to Ann Arbor Pioneer, and losses to Chicago area teams from Stevenson, Fenwick and McCauley, followed by additional losses to Ann Arbor Pioneer and Fenwick May 2 give the Rams more losses than Rockford has had in years. Coach Reickard was philosophical, saying, “In Chicago, we got off to a slow start and made too many mistakes. Then we picked up the pace and our last game was our best. We moved the ball. Fenwick hasn’t been held under eight goals all year, and we had them until the last quarter when they beat us 4-3. It was a successful tournament and it taught us what we need to do to make […]