Jenna’s eyes sparkle with fun and warmth and reveal her personality to everyone. She is self-motivated and wants her environment to be a little happier, a little nicer, a little more creative and a little less stressful because she is in it. Jenna Olson, 10, is the daughter of Todd and Jennifer Olson and sister to James. Jenna is described by her teachers at Lakes Elementary as wise, forgiving, hard working, fun and a leader among her peers. “Jenna reaches out to other students without being prompted,” her teachers describe. An example of her generosity of spirit is evident in her work in the Lakes’ Ram Buddies program. Her teachers say Jenna went out of her way to make a true connection, befriending other students. “This year those skills are very evident in the classroom and playgrounds as I see her quickly choose to work with others who may not normally be in her peer group,” said Sandy Knottnerus, her fifth-grade teacher. She is able to accept the differences in others with grace, innately understanding that diversity of ability, background and belief is something to be celebrated. Another example of Jenna’s maturity is her ability to understand the importance of the relationships of family. Parents tell their children often that their siblings will be their friends when they become older. Jenna is proud to announce that her brother is her best friend now. Jenna’s leadership and enthusiasm are recognized by her peers as well as teachers and staff and she was voted as president of Student Council by her classmates. n addition to her academic endeavors, Jenna is a member of the St. Luke’s Lutheran Church Youth Group and the Rockford Community Theater. She includes art and drama among her hobbies. This smart, caring student makes an impression on those around her and proves that the efforts of an individual really can make a difference in the lives of others. Jenna Olson is a true Example in Excellence for Lakes Elementary School.
Lakes Elementary School
by CINDY M. CRANMER More than one-third of the students at Lakes Elementary School participated in the first-ever art competition and creativity display at the Rockford school. Art Attack, which the students considered as their version of ArtPrize, included entries from kindergarten through fifth-grade students, according to Matt Zokoe, the fourth-grade teacher who led the Lakes Elementary Student Council in putting together the event. The Lakes Student Council wanted to coordinate an event for the school as part of their mission. Art Attack allows students to express their creativity without feeling compelled to do a project in a particular manner. The entries in Art Attack were completed and on display as part of the annual Art Make-and-Take. Kenn Vidro, art teacher, has a passion for art, whether creating it or helping students learn how to express their creativity. “Art is about the students expressing their creativity,” Vidro said. Art Attack allowed students to do any type of artwork that was original. Vidro said some students did artwork to share with other people, such as paintings on canvas, which they are not able to do in art classes because of the expense and don’t want to do just for themselves. All 504 students at Lakes Elementary had works on display at the Art Make-and-Take. There were 161 entries and 190 participants in the first Art Attack. Students were able to either enter an individual piece or work with someone on their artwork. Zokoe said all students did their piece on their own time and received a ribbon for participation. “We wanted to emphasize this is about an art expression not art competition,” he said. The Lakes Elementary students were able to vote and choose their favorite 10 entries as part of Art Attack. The winners, whether an individual or a pair of students, received recognition certificates and gift cards for entry to visit the art at Fred Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park along with recognition at an all-school assembly. “This allowed students to go outside the mold and be individuals,” Zokoe said. The Lakes Elementary Student Council funds its projects, such as the costs of Art Attack and donations to Kids Food Baskets, through events such as a school store. “The students have been inspired by […]
by BETH ALTENA Future Eagle Scout Andrew Manning, 17, a senior at Rockford High School, thought of his former elementary school when it was time for his last Boy Scout project. The strides he’s made in his career with the organization are nothing short of amazing, as few Scouts ever make it to Eagle Scout, the organization’s greatest honor. For Manning, the real march for success has been even more personal—a series of grueling surgeries and recoveries to correct defects in his feet he suffered from his whole life. Manning has had pain in his feet his whole life, but his family never knew the extent of the problem. He said he didn’t know if it was just natural growing pains and, having suffered from it his entire life, he didn’t realize it wasn’t normal. When he sprained his ankle in gym class and went to see a doctor about it, the extent of his problem became clear. “I went from doctor to doctor to specialist to surgeon,” Manning said. A problem with his bones had been the cause of his pain, and the doctors couldn’t believe he’d been walking with the condition his whole life, much less waterskiing and tubing. The diagnosis: major, complicated surgeries involving months of rehabilitation and keeping off his feet. Then, more surgeries on the other foot with the same pain and rehabilitation afterward. He had surgery on his right foot in March 2010 and the second nearly a year later—sooner than his doctors would have liked, but the timing took advantage of time off school to miss as little as possible. Manning is philosophical about it. “You wouldn’t ever choose to go through it,” he said. “But if you have to go through it, this was the best time of my life to do it. If I was older and found out about the problem, I wouldn’t be as young and strong to recover. If I had been younger, I would have had to have more surgeries because my bones wouldn’t have been close to their full size.” Teachers at Lakes Elementary School had called The Rockford Squire to do a story on Manning, not because of his surgeries, but because of the impressive project and his thoughtful nature. […]
Sara Kraus, a second-grader at Lakes Elementary School in Rockford, cut off eight inches of hair, which was donated to Children with Hairloss. They will use her donated hair to make a wig for a child in need. Sara wanted to help out another child because she wanted other children to have pretty hair and be happy. It took Sara a little over one year to grow out her hair. In her free time, Sara likes to read, play outside and swim.
Alina Porter, 10, is the granddaughter of Chuck and Gayle Porter and sister to Nico. Alina is described as a selfless, determined and gracious student who is wise beyond her years. She does not draw attention away from others. Even with her strong academic talents and achievements, she instead allows others to shine and is happy to celebrate their success with them. She prefers it when the spotlight is on someone else. Alina volunteers as a kindergarten bus safety, where her gentle good nature encourages youngsters. She is described as the “poster child for resiliency.” Nothing keeps Alina down or stops her from pursuing her goals. Her teachers, asked to describe Alina in a short phrase, chose, “Because nice matters.” “Driven to be kind” is another description of this caring student. “She watches how others are feeling and reaches out to those needing a friend, a kind word or a smile,” her teachers say. Academically talented as well as consistently kindhearted, Alina won the Sharp BMW Young Writers Award and the $1,000 scholarship offered with the prestigious recognition. In addition to her schoolwork, Alina plays piano and basketball, and loves horseback riding. She enjoys art and is also a knitter. She is a member of Calvary Baptist Church in Greenville. Lakes Elementary School teachers, staff and students are proud to highlight this selfless young woman for all she does by recognizing her as this year’s Example in Excellence.