Page 1

Publication of the Spinal Column Newsweekly

‘Selfless, genuine, and humble’

Hope Drogmiller named Outstanding Student of W. Oakland


t the tender age of 13, Hope Drogmiller has already demonstrated more community spirit and altruistic drive than many people do in a lifetime. As a result of her commitment to others, she has been named the winner of the Spinal Column Newsweekly's first ever Outstanding Student of West Oakland County Award. Hope is described as a "selfless, genuine, and humble" individual who uses her gifts of leadership to help others, according to her counselor at Sarah Banks Middle School, Suzanne Ickes. "Hope is a one-in-a-million type of student and young lady," Ickes said. Over the last few years, Hope has played a primary role in the Relay for Life event benefiting the American Cancer Society. Each year she captains her own team, Hope's Heroes. Prior to the event, she also customizes coin cans for donations, solicits businesses to house them on site for collections, and seeks out volunteers to donate beverages for the relay participants. She publishes a newsletter sharing Relay for Life information, creates a poster advertising the event and spearheads activities during the benefit event. "My mommy is a 12-year aggressive breast cancer survivor, and many of our family members have had cancer," Hope said. "We hope to find a cure soon." Hope's volunteerism doesn't stop with Relay for Life. She routinely raises funds and volunteers for charity events for the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society, St. Jude's Children's Hospital, and the Alzheimer's Association. "I get involved because I realize how important fund-raising is," she said. "Four months ago, I helped at a charity auction at St. Jude's and met a 4-year-old little girl named Kiera. Just seeing her face made me want to help more." Hope was a keynote speaker at a St. Jude Hospital dinner a few years ago and shared the perspective of a daughter's journey during her mother's battle with breast cancer. "She herself makes a sacrifice when she commits to charity work," said Curtis Drogmiller, Hope's father. "While

Hope Drogmiller (right) walks with her mother, Kathy Drogmiller, in their fifth Relay for Life together. Hope serves as Team Captain of Hope's Heroes. Kathy Drogmiller is a 12-year survivor of aggressive cancer. Hope will be a freshman at Walled Lake Western High School in the fall. (Photo submitted by Curtis Drogmiller)

others her age are playing with friends, she is busy making new friends and trying to make their lives better." Hope is a spokesperson for community volunteerism, and was recently

interviewed on a local Christian radio station encouraging people to make a difference by pitching in to help their community. She is also known for her compassion to the elderly. Hope has befriend-

ed an 84-year-old woman who lives alone with no close family, and invites her over for dinner during the holidays. "She was one of our old neighbors," Hope said. "Her son passed away seven years ago and she doesn't have anyone else." One of Hope's most recent accomplishments is writing a column, "Hope's Heroes' Spotlight on Charities," in the metro Detroit area magazine, Women's LifeStyle. The column shares inspiring stories revolving around charity work. "My daddy and I wrote a 100-word essay on breast cancer survival and my mommy was picked as one of the winners," Hope said. "We talked to the editor and (she) was impressed by my ideas for a column." Apart from her enthusiasm for community service, Hope is a 4.0 student, a member of the Junior National Honor Society, and a member of the Sarah Banks Middle School Student Council. "She is a ray of sunshine in the hallways, always greeting others and being friendly," Ickes said. "How she stands out is her friendliness to everyone and how accepting and tolerant she is of everyone. She is never negative nor complains about anything — this is what sets her apart. She's simply amazing." Hope was one of the first students to step up to tutor younger kids in various subjects during her lunch hour. "We set up this tutoring table and right away she (Hope) volunteered and kids don't mind being taught by her because she's so sweet," Ickes said. Hope also strives for her personal best in athletics. She played on the seventh- and eighth-grade volleyball team, was part of the eighth-grade cheerleading squad, and ran track. "It's nice to see all kids get involved with their schools," Hope said. Hope will be attending Walled Lake Western High School next year and recently made the junior varsity cheerleading team. "I have a wonderful family that supports me, especially my mommy and daddy," she said. ❏ — By Leslie Shepard, staff writer THE YEARBOOK 2012 | 3B


MATTHEW T. GOLBA AAMS® 1550 N. Milford Rd., Ste. 102B • Milford, MI 48381

Call Us Today


Fax: 248-529-6323

WE WANT TO HELP WITH ALL OF YOUR RETIREMENT NEEDS • Traditional and Roth IRAs • SIMPLE and SEP Business Retirement Plans • College Savings Plans • Life Insurance

• Long Term Care Insurance • Annuities • 401k Review • 401k Rollover • Retirement Planning • CDs (Certificate of Deposits)

• Stocks • Options • Corporate/ Government/ Municipal (TAX FREE) Bonds • Mutual Funds • Fee Based Planning • Complimentary Comprehensive Portfolio Review

*Registered Representative. Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a Broker/Dealer, member FINRA/SIPC. Investment Advisor Representative. Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. Cambridge and Golba Financial Group are not affiliated.

Add Some Color to Your Landscape with a Japanese Maple.

A big ‘Thank You’ to the prize sponsors for the “Outstanding Students of West Oakland County.” • The Root Restaurant of White Lake • Happy’s Pizza of Commerce Township • Marco’s Pizza of Highland • Little Caesar’s Pizza • Dairy Twist Cafe of Commerce Township • Big Boy of Walled Lake • Windmill Market Pizza & Deli We would also like to thank the Dublin Senior center of White Lake for accepting the daunting task of choosing from the many student entries representing the outstanding students of West Oakland that we received. They all deserve recognition and it was inspiring to read their stories. WEST

Family owned and local for over 52 years

Member of the SCN Communications Group SPINAL COLUMN NEWSWEEKLY • OAKLAND LAKEFRONT OAKLAND HOMES • MONTHLYADVERTISER • WEST OAKLAND DIRECTORY FAX: 248.360.5308/248.360.5309 Check Out Our Fun Vacation Travel Games

25% OFF! Take $10 OFF! Take $10 off your $75 or more store purchase. One discount per family. Not valid on sale price items. Expires 6/30/12


Creative & Cost Effective Landscape Solutions 4B | SCN COMMUNICATIONS GROUP


248.360.SELL (7355) • 7196 Cooley Lake Road, Waterford, MI 48327-4113 • 248.360.NEWS (6397)

Great Selection Now

Trees - Shrubs - Perennials - Landscape Supplies Delivery - Installation - Landscape Design



Gifts Books

Enrichment Classes Starting in July. Register on-line at Waterford Community Education

Puzzles Resources



5742 Williams Lake Rd. • Waterford, MI 48329

Ongoing kindness At home, abroad Daleo has ‘unending spirit, energy’ or Pierce Middle School seventhFbegins grader Gianna Daleo, 12, charity first and foremost in the home in helping take care of her younger sister, Abigail, who has lived with cerebral palsy since birth. For her kindness and compassion to her family and community, we're proud to announce Gianna Daleo as a runnerup in the Spinal Column Newsweekly's

Gianna (left) and Abigail Daleo

Outstanding Students of West Oakland County Award contest. Cerebral palsy is a disorder of movement, muscle tone or posture caused by injury or abnormal development in the immature brain, most often before birth, according to the Mayo Clinic. As a result, Abigail, who is two years younger than Gianna, cannot walk or talk. Abigail needs constant attention and assistance with daily tasks, including feeding and changing. It's a role that Gianna gladly embraces because she is willing to do anything she can to help her sister. "It's kind of hard sometimes, but you just try to help. We're trying to get her into stronger, more intense therapy," Gianna said. "It inspired me a lot. If I can do good things, everybody can have a better future." Gianna's father said that Gianna is aware that she is blessed, is thankful, and takes time to give back to others. "(Helping her sister is) huge when you have someone dependent on the family, kind of like a third arm," said Carlo Daleo, Gianna's father. "She'll take things upon herself in advance, such as helping (Abigail) get ready for bed, and making sure her bed is ready and the music is on." It's her love for her sister and appreciation for her talents that

inspires Gianna to reach out to others who are dealing with mental and physical disabilities. Gianna is not only active in volunteering with the Special Olympics in Warren, but she also works with other organizations and community service events, including the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the Walk to Cure Diabetes and the Special Friends Day bowling event for children and adults with disabilities. "This is a girl who just happens to have an unending spirit and energy," said Terry Lamper, a geography teacher at Pierce Middle School. "She's so kind and she just has this approach and she's remarkable. She does not ever complain and responds in full favor." While finding time to help others, Gianna also steps up in the classroom, as well, as she was on the the all-A honor roll during her entire sixthgrade year at Pierce. She has also made the A-B honor roll for both marking periods of the first semester this school year, in addition to being a nominee for a Great Lakes Scholar award. Gianna has also been previously awarded the President's Award for outstanding academic achievement, as well as a Student of the Month award. "I try to do my stuff at school and get as much homework done at school as I can and ask as many questions as I can and help others with their studies," Gianna said. She even finds time to sing in the Pierce choir and has been involved in softball and soccer. While a student at Houghton Elementary School, Gianna was involved in the Houghton Action News Team and participated on the safety patrol. "Ms. Daleo demonstrates ongoing kindness to all of her peers. Without hesitation, she will aid a student in need of help in the classroom or a friend at lunch or someone feeling left out," Lamper said. Gianna said that when she starts eighth-grade in the fall, she hopes to serve as an anchor for special needs students at Pierce. "I just want to keep doing community service and help my sister with her physical therapy," Gianna said. ❏ — By Michael Shelton, staff writer

Lee, 15, crosses oceans to serve


n July 2011, Waterford Mott High School's Jenna Lee went on a daring adventure that few other 15-year-olds would even contemplate — a service trip to South Africa with three other teens and two adults. As part of the trip that was organized through their church, Oakland Woods Baptist Church, for two weeks she spent time helping children and

Jenna Lee

teenagers who struggle with everything from poverty to drug addictions. "Our main purpose was to spend time with South African teenagers who are dealing with issues like having to raise families on their own and to help them understand that there is hope and a purpose in life," she said. "It made me appreciate all of the things that I have in my life even more, and it really hit me that we can't just be complacent in our lives but we have to go help others: Don't take anything for granted." She took away an important lesson from the trip, that people, no matter where they're from or what they do, have a common bond: Their humanity. "People everywhere aren't that different," she said. "We all want to love and be loved. Some people may seem really bad off, but to them it's their life and they don't need to be pitied, just helped out in whatever way you can." Another person who appreciated Lee's trip was her father, Bob, who nominated his daughter in the Spinal Column Newsweekly's Outstanding Students of West Oakland County Award contest, in which Lee was named as a runner-up. "The preparation for this journey took several months," Bob Lee wrote in his nomination letter about Jenna's trip to South Africa. "Jenna had to learn the culture, language, and other social

norms in order to adapt and 'fit in' ... a great sacrifice for any person, but for a 15-year-old to think about others and not of herself is a lesson for us all. The very act of sacrificing part of a summer to help others is a very humbling thing for a father." He describes his daughter as being "a very free-spirited young lady." "She often throws caution to the wind and will try new things," he said. "Being able to travel to South Africa without other family members was a brave accomplishment. She has a determined spirit and strives to do her best in all things." Jenna's determination has been in full force recently after missing a couple weeks of school to have surgery on both knees after tearing both her ACLs in a skiing accident earlier this year. Nevertheless, she has remained a diligent student, continuing to earn straight A's and maintain her 3.98 GPA at Mott, where she just finished her sophomore year. She is also a member of the National Honor Society and the Anti-Defamation League at school, and plays softball, runs, and likes to ski. As someone who loves the outdoors and enjoys canoeing, kayaking, swimming, camping, and spending time on the water, Jenna hopes to be well enough to do those things this summer. As for another trip to South Africa, Jenna said she would love to go back but has no plans to anytime soon. However, she will be going on other service trips, except these will be a bit closer to home: This summer's is to east Tennessee and next summer she is bound for Alaska. "I love traveling and would love to go anywhere and everywhere I can," she said. Meanwhile, Jenna's father remains proud of the person his daughter is becoming. "I am proud of her faith," he said. "I am proud of her sound mind and willingness to think of others first. I am proud that she has a positive outlook on life. Often, I still see Jenna as my 'little girl,' but I am proud that she has turned into a beautiful young lady." ❏ — By Angela Niemi, staff writer THE YEARBOOK 2012 | 5B

Walled Lake’s outstanding graduates of 2012 Walled Lake Central High School recently honored its Class of 2012 graduates who earned a 4.0 or higher GPA and graduated with highest honors. In the front row (left to right) are Kendall Berry, Breanna Anderson, Anna Berezovsky, Mackenzie Moug, Allison Rettig, Natasha Malek, Emily Tyrrell, Lyndsay Burke and Allyson Fulton. In the second row (left to right) are Lauren Smith, Pranitha Chekka, Valerie Yalldo, Marley Diatikar, Sarah Myers, Katelyn Dwyer, Clint Harrison, Lana Antwan, Jessica Bruhn and Courtney Stachowiak. In the third row (left to right) are Colleen Fellows, Candyce Jessamy, James Pontious, David Eisenberg, Jared Collins, Tristen Lunsford, Brandon Baroff, Jeffery Noble, Jack Peterman, Marina Baker, Jacob Peck, Miranda Brunett, Kelly Parliament and Jocelyn Hanson. In the fourth row (left to right) are Chase Rosenthal, Blake Boedecker, Lucas Wilson, Conner Marion and Matthew Saperstein. (Photo submitted by Judy Evola/Walled Lake Consolidated School District)

Walled Lake Northern High School recently honored its Class of 2012 graduates who earned a 4.0 or higher GPA and graduated with highest honors. In the front row (left to right) are Nathaniel Price, Alexis Silber, Kristina Hughes, Melissa Kramer, Lauren Slayton, Marissa Graziano, Kelsey Thomas and Adam Johnson. In the second row (left to right) are Alexander Chow, Katherine vonBernthal, Adam Giaccaglia, Hope Youngren, Olivia Crowley, Caitlin Muncy and Megan Pawloski. In the third row (left to right) are Jordan Wilson, Eden Roth, Allison Smith, Rachel Mandeville, Devon Pawloski, DeAnza Garcia and Katelyn Cliff. In the fourth row (left to right) are Alec Huismann, Jacob Rees, Scott Johnston, Alyssa Sherman, Mark Hartwig, Eme Iban and Courtney Scott. (Photo submitted by Judy Evola/Walled Lake Consolidated Schools)


Walled Lake Western High School recently honored its Class of 2012 graduates who earned a 4.0 or higher GPA and graduated with highest honors. In the front row (left to right) are Eni Mihilli, Hannah Cleveland, Noreen Kim, Tram Nguyen, Lauren Scott, Gabriella Pena, Dyan Castro and Megumi Ishii. In the second row (left to right) are Ashley Lucas, Aida Mustafa, Lindsay Brown, Tiffany Bryant, Jasmine Charter-Harris, Nick Malles, Karleen Girn, Monica Blaze, Rachel Lo and Noor Hermiz. In the third row (left to right) are Neam Asaad, Mina Khalil, Maria Meienburg, Alex Carlery, Ashley Lucas, David Faulkner, Justin Nofar, Seth Goldman and Brent Zedebski. In the fourth row (left to right) are Shayna Lickfold, Diksha Thapa, Jennifer Allen, Jaime Hawkins, Nicole Whaley, Andrew Taylor, Logan Smith, Kevin Roback, Kalon Humphries and Shawn Marshick. (Photo submitted by Judy Evola/Walled Lake Consolidated Schools)


VETERANS BENEFITS: Veterans and their surviving spouses may qualify for a well-funded benefit to help

with in-home, assisted living and long term care. MEDICAID BENEFITS: With proper legal advice you don’t have to spend your entire life savings for long term care. Please call to find out if you or a family member qualifies for this benefit.


Steven J. Lebowski


VA Benefits • Long Term Care Planning Estate Planning • Medicaid/Nursing Home Benefits WE CAN HELP YOU PROTECT YOUR LIFETIME OF HARD WORK AND SERVICE. Please call today for a free private consultation for yourself or a loved one. We can help!


LEBOWSKI & ASSOCIATES, P.C. 206 E. Commerce, Milford, MI 48381











Huron Valley Schools Outstanding Graduates

HAIRCUTS HAIRCUTS Valid at Fisk Corners and Shops at Commerce locations ONLY. Not valid with any other offer. Limit one coupon per customer. Expires 7/6/12

Valid at Fisk Corners and Shops at Commerce locations ONLY. Not valid with any other offer. Limit one coupon per customer. Expires 7/6/12

Congratulations Students! FISK CORNERS


9278 Highland Rd. White Lake 248-698-0900

2232 Union Lake Rd. Commerce 248-363-7361

Next to Sonic, Jimmy Johns & Chase


ALEXANDRU PASCA Valedictorian Lakeland High School Plans: Attending UofM to study mechanical engineering

BRITTANY LEONARD Salutatorian Lakeland High School Plans: Attending Hope College to study biology

GARRET ZUK Salutatorian Lakeland High School Plans: Attending MSU to study mechanical engineering

WILLIAM ROBINSON Valedictorian Milford High School Plans: Attending UofM to study electrical and mechanical engineering

SARAH BONHARD Salutatorian Milford High School Plans: Attending UofM to study aerospace engineering

ALEXANDER SMITH Salutatorian Milford High School Plans: Attending UofM to study computer engineering

Next to Walgreens

Congratulations to all students 3095 S. Commerce Rd., Walled Lake, MI 48390 248-624-5222

We’ve Gone


If you’d like to receive our full edition in your email box, send your request to: 8B | SCN COMMUNICATIONS GROUP

TABITHA KALABAT Valedictorian IA-West Academy Plans: Attending UofM to study biology

SYLVIA DOMANICO Salutatorian IA-West Academy Plans: Undecided

Green advocate

Stellar work ethic

Luzynski embraces steward role

O’Brien devoted to school, church

alled Lake Northern High School W senior Robert Luzynski, 18, is a true Knight — not just in the classroom, but also on the hockey rink and as an environmental activist. For his efforts on the ice, in the classroom and for the environment, the Spinal Column Newsweekly is proud to announce Rob Luzynski as a runner-up in the Outstanding Students of West Oakland

Robert Luzynski

County Award contest. "One of the main reasons why I became so environmentally aware was a class I took, AP environmental sciences," Luzynski said. "In this class we learned a lot about the environmental issues that our world today is facing, which both disturbed me and motivated me to become an activist for the Earth and its inhabitants." Luzynski didn't have to look any farther than his own school's cafeteria to start making a difference. When he saw that Styrofoam trays and dinnerware were being used and thrown away every day, he wasted little time to take action. "In terms of the polystyrene (Styrofoam), I collect the trays during lunch and then wash them so that they're clean enough to be taken to a recycling plant in Livingston County," Luzynski said. He then approached Northern Assistant Principal Vickie Banyash to schedule a meeting with Food Service Supervisor Janet Allen to make an appeal for a more environmentallyfriendly approach to food service in his school. "I have helped to implement plastic trays into the lunchroom, a change that hopefully one day will become reliable enough to replace Styrofoam use at the school completely." Getting the plastic trays required fund-raising, which Luzynski did in his own unique way, including organizing

"Water Wars" at Northern. "It's a well-known game that many high schools play in our area," he said. "It's basically a huge squirt gun tournament that participants must pay $5 to enter, with teams of four competing in two 'battles' to see who moves on to the next round. The senior class raised a substantial amount of money with this venture, all of which is used for the trays and a prize for the winning team at the end." On the hockey rink, Luzynski was an All-Kensington Lakes Activities Association (KLAA) Lakes Conference selection this past season, as he helped lead the Knights' varsity hockey team to the KLAA North Division and Lakes Conference championships. Luzynski finished the 2011-12 season with seven goals and 13 assists for a total of 20 points. He also has excelled in the classroom, as Luzynski was recently named as a National Merit Recognition student, placing him among the top 1.5 percent of 1.5 million entrants from across the country. "Rob's an awesome kid," Banyash said. "He's community-minded and a leader and helps us to grow as a school." Luzynski plans on attending the University of Michigan in the fall to begin studying psychology and environmental sciences. "I feel that more important than simply informing people about environmental issues is finding out how people think and feel about the environment, and what methods might be effective in convincing people to live sustainably," he said. "With my sciences degree coupled with my psychology degree, I hope to conduct research and strive to find ways to make people realize the harm we are doing to the Earth and become motivated to help." He added that he also plans on playing for Michigan's club hockey team in the fall. "When you first meet him, you think, 'Is he for real?' No one is that good-natured, that caring, that polite, and that fun always," Banyash said. "But he is, really. He is a pleasure to work with and a treasure to all who know him." ❏ — By Michael Shelton, staff writer


inety-degree heat in the summer is adored by some, loathed by others, and tolerated by most. However, for Kevin O'Brien, it's pretty much a standard part of his extracurricular activities in the warmer months. Imagine marching and playing the trumpet for hours in the hot sun only to finish and then sprint off to bas-

Kevin O’Brien

ketball practice in a sweltering gym. Yet those just a few aspects of O'Brien's busy schedule. His work ethic is one of the things that impresses his father, Mark, the most about his son, whom he nominated for the Spinal Column Newsweekly's Outstanding Students of West Oakland Award contest, in which Kevin was selected as a runnerup. "What a lot of people don't realize is that he will be marching in the band for summer time practices in 90-degree heat and then go to practice for basketball," Mark O'Brien said. "At the end of the day, he is drained. And what always impressed me is his continued enthusiasm for the things he wants to achieve." His band director, Mary Hulliberger, agrees. "Kevin is a great kid," she said. "He has a terrific work ethic and loves band. He is committed to our program and is still able to manage an active athletic schedule while maintaining a rigorous academic workload." A junior next year at Walled Lake Northern High School, Kevin was on the junior varsity basketball team, is on the track team, and plays trumpet in the marching and symphony bands.

"It's a joy to work with Kevin," Hulliberger said. He's done all of this while maintaining a 3.8 GPA and being involved in student government as the secretary of the Class of 2014. And he hasn't missed a day of school since starting middle school, according to his father. "His outstanding effort, leadership, and commitment to his family, school and parish community are what I'm most proud of," Mark O'Brien said. Kevin has been altar serving at St. Patrick's for the past seven years. Helping out during the Lenten fish fries, being involved with the parish's Youth Group, working the scoreboard at youth basketball games, collecting money for a soup kitchen in Detroit, and playing softball with the children at Children's Village are just a few of the other activities Kevin is involved in with his church. "I help out with my church a lot. Right now I'm actually helping out with the Confirmation classes. I'm one of the teachers," said Kevin, who can also be seen helping out his neighbors, especially those who are older. "When you're older, you need some young legs and young arms. Kevin will help our neighbors move stuff or shovel snow," said Mark O'Brien. Of all his activities, Kevin said basketball is his favorite. "It's a fun activity. I get to meet new people and make new friends. And it's all about teamwork," he said. As for managing his time to get all of this done, Kevin said he "just kind of finds a way." "I like helping out my community and church. It gets me involved instead of just laying around the house," said Kevin, 16. "He's always been somebody who goes after something he wants to achieve, and he will work twice as hard to get it," said Mark O'Brien. "Our family friend (former Detroit Tiger) Jim Northrup used to say, 'When you think you can't do better, you won't. So keep trying.' Kevin lives by that." ❏ — By Angela Niemi, staff writer THE YEARBOOK 2012 | 9B

A born leader

High-energy asset

Helping others is Salmu’s passion

Vamvakitis keeps busy schedule



icole Salmu, who will be entering her senior year at Waterford Mott High School in the fall, is no stranger to helping people. In fact, it's one of her favorite things to do, especially when it comes to helping out her community and school. "Nicole has such a big heart and loves to help people whenever she can," said Sandy Salmu in her letter nominat-

Nicole Salmu

ing her daughter for the Spinal Column Newsweekly's first-ever West Oakland's Outstanding Student Award contest, in which Nicole was named a runner up. As part of her leadership class at Waterford Mott, Nicole is involved with many different school and community activities, such as planning school events like homecoming and prom, organizing and participating in spring clean ups, and various other events to help improve the school and surrounding community. One of those activities is to read to children at Donelson Hills Elementary School every Wednesday. "She loves reading to those kids," Sandy Salmu said. "Every morning before she leaves for school (on Wednesdays) she will say, 'Mom, I'm going to see my kids today.' She gets so excited." "I like helping the young ones," Nicole said, but it's not just the "young ones" she helps. She is also involved with No Place for Hate, a nationwide initiative to reduce bullying in schools; and Link Crew, a mentoring program run by upper classmen to help incoming freshman students make a more comfortable transition into high school. She is also involved with the Mott Student Council, managing public relations for the Class of 2013, and is on the varsity dance team, of which she 10B | SCN COMMUNICATIONS GROUP

has been a member for the past three years. However, Salmu's favorite club is Positive Peer Influence. "It's a conflict mediation program that helps students solve problems without the involvement of the (school) administration. It's definitely my favorite because you're helping people solve their problems," Nicole said. She was also elected to represent her school at the Kensington Lakes Activities Association (KLAA) Conference this year in Grand Blanc. "I had a blast there," she said. "It was really fun, and a good opportunity for me. We came up with different ways of how to help people in the community, how to improve school spirit and to prevent bullying — basically how to promote your school and to make it be a better place for the students. We also did a lot of ice breakers to help get to know other people and place ourselves in their shoes. It was really eye-opening." In addition to her school activities, Nicole also works part-time at Dairy Queen, where she puts in approximately 15 to 17 hours a week. With such a busy schedule, Nicole said she just takes "baby steps one day at a time." "I have a planner. It's probably my best friend," she joked. "I just try not to overthink when it comes to that. Otherwise, I get stressed out and drive myself up the wall. I like to keep busy. I really like to help people." Nicole's mother spoke wonders of her. "She is such a wonderful person, so kind-hearted and loved by whomever she comes in contact with," Sandy Salmu said. "I'm most proud of all she has accomplished. When she sets out to do something, she does it. She works hard and doesn't quit. She puts 100 percent into everything she does. It's awesome." As for being named one of the Spinal Column Newsweekly contest runners-up, Nicole said it was "great." "It's definitely something to be proud of. I feel like hard work pays off, and it's great when somebody notices it," she said. ❏ — By Angela Niemi, staff writer

ome kids are wiser beyond their years, and Bethany Vamvakitis, 11, is a living example of knowing how to balance normal kid activities with being a community activist. She often puts aside her own ambitions to help others in her school and community at large, which is a primary reason Bethany has been chosen as a runner-up for

Bethany Vamvakitis

the Spinal Column Newsweekly's Outstanding Student of West Oakland County Award. "I really like helping people and it's natural for me," she said. "If I didn't it would be a weird life for me." Her mother, Kristin Vamvikitis, lauds Bethany for her humility and kind persona. "She's a very sweet and kind little girl," Kristin said. "She doesn't like to hurt people's feelings and notices little things, like if a person doesn't hold a door open for the elderly, and she makes sure she does. She's a peace-maker and doesn't like people to be upset." Bethany is very involved in her school, Adams Elementary School in Waterford Township. She is currently the school ambassador for Fuel-up to Play 60, a program intended to teach the entire student body healthy lifestyle choices, including nutrition and exercise. She, in conjunction with the school's physical education teacher and supervisor of food services, rolled out the program to students. "My gym teacher asked me to become the school ambassador for this program and I was really excited about it," Bethany said.

And she walks the walk by playing travel soccer for the Waterford Warriors and travel basketball for the Michigan Titans. "She's high-energy and just a positive asset to the school and everyone around her," said Adams Elementary Principal Lynn Bigelman. Instead of playing during recess, Bethany tutors kindergarten students in math. "Her calm demeanor and dedication to these children has helped them understand new mathematical concepts, as well as forming bonding relationships with them," Bigelman said. Whenever the school holds a fund-raiser, Bethany is on the front lines, always the first to volunteer. "She's really a wonderful girl," Bigelman said. "She's a positive student who is anxious to get involved. She's everyone's friend and always does the right thing." "We teach our children to respect one another and look at everyone equally," Kristin Vamvakitis said. "As a mother, I'm very proud of her." Bethany routinely visits the Lighthouse in Pontiac as part of her community outreach efforts. "Almost every month, my mom and I go and cut coupons and buy cereals and canned goods to donate. I also donated all my stuffed animals," Bethany said. She also volunteers at the Drayton Plains Nature Center to help beautify the area by assisting staff with landscaping. "Last week we helped the Garden Club make it pretty and nice," Bethany said. Bethany's outreach extends to her church, St. George's Greek Orthodox, where she helps teach the younger children the Greek language every Saturday. "Bethany strives to continuously go about above and beyond," Bigelman said. "She believes in helping those in need and making our world a better place." ❏ — By Leslie Shepard, staff writer

Waterford’s outstanding graduates of 2012

SPENCER ALLEN Waterford Kettering 3.96 GPA • Plans: Attending Michigan Tech to study electrical engineering

BLAKE ARMSTRONG Waterford Kettering 3.92 GPA • Plans: Attending UofD's physician assistant program

NICHOLAS F. CABRERA Waterford Kettering 4.07 GPA • Plans: Attending UofM to study public policy and economics

STEPHANIE DEFORE Waterford Kettering 4.094 GPA • Plans: Attending Cedarville University to study chemistry

CHAD GRIMALDI Waterford Kettering 4.06 GPA Plans: Attending UofM

AMANDA HARGROVES Waterford Kettering 4.0 GPA • Plans: Attending Kendall College of Art and Design

TYLER HASSETT Waterford Kettering 4.0 GPA • Plans: Attending OU, then UofM to study chemical engineering

AIMEE JACKSON Waterford Kettering 3.95 GPA • Plans: Attending MSU to study zoology

ELYSE KOMARZEC Waterford Kettering 4.077 GPA • Attending Frederick Meijer Honors College at Grand Valley State

ERICA MELKONIAN Waterford Kettering 4.2 GPA • Plans: Attending MSU to study neuroscience, biochemistry & biology

ALEXANDER POZNANSKI Waterford Kettering 4.02 GPA • Plans: Attending OU to study biology or chemistry

COLIN ROSS Waterford Kettering 4.0 GPA • Plans: Attending Lawrence Tech to study computer science

HANNAH STINSON Waterford Kettering 4.0 GPA • Plans: Attending CMU to study education

RACHEL L. STOPCHINSKI Waterford Kettering 4.07 GPA • Plans: Attending UofM to study English/psychology/musical performance

JESSICA WARHOLAK Waterford Kettering 4.087 GPA • Plans: Attending OU Honors College to study biology

KATELIN WEBSTER Waterford Kettering 4.08 GPA • Plans: Attending EMU to study music therapy

DAVID S. BURNETT, JR. Waterford Mott 3.91 GPA • Plans: Attending Lake Superior State to study fire science

SAMANTHA CLEMENCE Waterford Mott 4.08 GPA • Plans: Attending Northern Michigan Univ. to study nursing

PRESTON GINTER Waterford Mott 3.94 GPA Plans: Attending MSU

DANICA HARRIS Waterford Mott 4.10 GPA • Plans: Attending UofM to study chemistry

CAMERON HEINTZ Waterford Mott 4.1 GPA • Plans: Attending college full-time to study orthopedics THE YEARBOOK 2012 | 11B

ELENA DURNBAUGH Waterford Mott 4.16 GPA • Plans: Attending OU to study archeology

NICK EIZMENDI TREVOR R. EVANS Waterford Mott Waterford Mott 4.0442 GPA • Plans: 4.06 GPA • Plans: Attending Attending Kettering University OU Honors College to study to study computer science biochemistry/pre-med

Waterford’s outstanding graduates of 2012

DANA MAXWELL Waterford Mott 3.9 GPA • Plans: Attending MSU to study psychology or zoology

JEFFREY JOHNSTON Waterford Mott 4.144 GPA • Plans: Attending UofM to study biomedical engineering

ANTHONY LASZLO Waterford Mott 3.97 GPA • Plans: Attending MSU's pre-dental program, then UCLA to study dentistry

STEVEN MA Waterford Mott 4.008 GPA • Plans: Attending Kettering University to study mechanical engineering

MEGAN McCONKEY Waterford Mott 4.02 GPA • Plans: Attending UofM to study business

LIZBETH LOPEZ Waterford Mott 3.93 GPA • Plans: Attending MSU to study anthropology

BRODY LOSH Waterford Mott 3.9354 GPA Plans: Attending MSU

ROBYN MARKS Waterford Mott 4.11 GPA • Plans: Attending Case Western Reserve to study engineering and Spanish

AUSTIN TAYLOR MEREDITH MIRANDA PELKEY JESSIE SMITH Waterford Mott Waterford Mott Waterford Mott 4.04 GPA • Plans: Attending 4.029 GPA • Plans: Attending 4.089 GPA • Plans: Attending Wayne State Honors College to OU Honors College, then MSU MSU to study journalism, study chemical engineering School of Osteopathic Medicine business and political science

FURNITURE LIQUIDATION SALE Old Stock of Moon Valley Rustic Furniture (which is no longer in business)


TRAILER SALES • PARTS • TOWING ACCESSORIES 4902 Highland Road • Waterford, MI 48328

10% OFF

Any Fire Pit Ring in Stock Hurry In! Coupon Expires: 6/30/12


248.673.7876 Fax: 248.673.9739

Monday - Friday 9 am - 5:30 pm Saturday 9 am - 2 pm Pricing on Fire Pit Rings Available at


Publication of the Spinal Column Newsweekly others her age are playing with friends, she is busy making new friends and trying to make their...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you