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2012

Major

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Focus on area youth

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Sturgis Journal

Part 1 of 3

March 2012


2

Saturday & Sunday, March 31-April 1, 2012

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COLON ELEMENTARY

STURGIS - WALL SCHOOL

David Sweatt By Rosalie Currier currier@sturgisjournal.com

Moira Norris By Terry Katz katz@sturgisjournal.com

Eight-year-old Moira Norris likes to be active. Whether she’s at home in Burr Oak or at school in Colon, she has plenty of things to hold her interest. Moira is a third grader at Colon Elementary School. She lives with her mom, Robin Norris, in Burr Oak. Moira has a younger sister, Samantha, who attends first grade, an older brother, Josh, and two older sisters, Shanna and Courtney. At school, science is her favorite subject. “I really like it when we do projects,” she said. “We had to dissect a plant and it had a lot of little seeds inside. You could see the veins of the plant.” After school, Moira helps her mom by taking care of the pets. The family has twin dogs that are a mix of Newfoundland and border collie. Moira also has a gray, black and brownish cat named Bella. “Bella likes to make her voice heard. “She meows a lot,” Moira said. Moira likes to play video games at home. Her favorite is “Little Big Planet Skyland.” She’s actually thought of being a video game designer some day. She also likes to be outdoors running and playing basketball.

David Sweatt, an 8-year old, Wall School second grader likes things — lots of things. “I like to go to art and draw. I like music since sometimes we get to use the instruments. I like to read — Jack and Annie chapter books. I like to go to lunch,” David said. Which is his favorite subject in school? “I like them all,” David said. Those around him have noticed David’s positive outlook on life. “He is a solid student, an outstanding citizen,” said Wall principal Nicole Airgood. His teacher Sarah Smith agrees. “David is a fantastic student and a very hard worker. He is always willing to help his fellow classmates with anything they may need; whether it be a classroom assignment or an extra buddy to play with,” Smith said. At recess with his friends, David has some other favorite activities. “We like to play football and soccer. We like to get chased by other people and hide from them and

we like to climb,” he said. David isn’t very old, but already has some favorite teachers, especially Bill Kiem his kindergarten teacher. “Mr. Kiem always played games with us and made us laugh,” David said. Kiem has some good memories of his own. “Dakota was a hard worker who always had a smile,” Kiem said. “He was a great student and a good friend to his classmates — helpful, positive — I could have had a class of 40 with kids like him.” But school is just part of his day. David also likes family activities with his parents David and Melissa Sweatt, and baby brother Darvin. “We like to talk and play some board games. We like to get on the XBox and play some video games as a family,” David said. And of all the things David likes, he really likes to break dance. In fact, he wants to be a professional break dancer when he grows up. His parents take him to lessons and it’s paying off. People are noticing his skills. “David has entertained

our class with his exceptional break dancing skills, showing us his new moves,” Smith said. But for now he just like

being a kid. And David believes the most important thing for a child his age, is to “have fun and do what you want to do,” he said.

WHITE PIGEON - CENTRAL ELEMENTARY

CENTREVILLE ELEMENTARY

Davis Williams

Lilyann Lutz

By Kathy Jessup Journal Correspondent

Nine-year-old Davis Williams says there’s a “feeling inside my gut” that she’s meant to be a missionary. But packing a suitcase full of granola bars is the one American comfort the self-acknowledged picky eater plans to take on her first, three-week missionary experience to India next year. The White Pigeon Central Elementary third grader will travel across the world with an aunt and uncle who have conducted a series of religious missionary trips to India. Williams said she’s wanted to accompany them “as long as I can remember.” Her parents, Mindy and Marshall Williams, have supported her goal, suggesting that she be at least 10 years old to make the trip. Williams turns 10 in July and the trip is scheduled for January, when winter, and milder weather, comes to the equatorial nation. Williams plans to prepare a message to preach when she goes to India, one that will be targeted primarily for a young audience. What will be the inspiration for her message? Reality television for insects—the Science Channel’s Monster Bug Wars. “I saw a show on Monster Bug Wars about how a bunch of really small ants could go up against a scorpion and defeat it,” she explained. “When we side with God, we’re like that bunch of little ants defeating Satan. “I also think maybe I should reassure them that God is always there with them because they’ve probably gone through some really, really hard times.” The poised, self-assured girl said her strong faith has been shepherded by her parents and her Elkhart church. Streaks of compassion and adventure will also serve her well on the streets of India. “I expect I’ll see a mix of things that are very different from America,” she explained. “There will be some children living on the

By Terry Katz street and cows running amok. I also want to see a monkey and the Taj Mahal.” Davis has beautiful examples of Indian dress that have been gifted to her and brother Jack, 5, by their missionary relatives. Intricate stitching and bead work are featured on each of the pieces. Davis says she’s keeping the saris she’s outgrown, hoping someday to gift them to her own daughter. Davis also fills her spare times with many of the usual kid things. She plays volleyball and basketball, likes to read and draw and enjoys computer games. The young girl expresses only one reservation about her trip to India. But it’s nothing a suitcase full of granola bars can’t solve. “I don’t like spicy food,” Davis mused. “The food there is too hot. So I’ll probably pack granola bars and non-perishable food for two or three weeks. They do have a food that’s like a donut hole that’s good and I like rice.”

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Lilyann Lutz is a master story teller and she’s only 6 years old. Lilyann, daughter of Brett and Thayma Lutz, attends kindergarten at Centreville Elementary School. She can tell stories about famous people in history, such as wives of presidents, or fairy tales. Lilyann gives her mom all the credit, saying that it’s because she reads her a story every night at bedtime. Lilyann remembers details well enough to repeat the story to her school friends the next day. Lilyann said she has been learning about First Lady Dolley Madison, wife of U.S. President James Madison who served from 1809-

1817. “She ate vanilla ice cream like me,” said Lilyann. “When she got married to James Madison, she wore a white dress.” Lilyann said she loves reading the adventures of Olivia, the talking pig. “Olivia lives in a house,” said Lilyann. “And she likes to play with a cat named Edwin and a dog named Perry.” Lilyann said her dad likes history and on vacation, the family often visits historical sites. Lilyann has a sister, Quinlann. At home, Lilyann has three cats, Reecy, George and Snickes. At school, her favorite subjects include computers, writing and art. She said perhaps some day she will be a marine biologist.

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www.sturgisjournal.com Saturday & Sunday, March 31-April 1, 2012

3

CONSTANTINE - RIVERSIDE ELEMENTARY

BRONSON - ANDERSON ELEMENTARY

Emerie Wotta By Rosalie Currier currier@sturgisjournal.com

Emerie Wotta cares about people. She’s only 8 years old and a second grader at Anderson Elementary School in Bronson, but people have already noticed her thoughtfulness. Her teacher, Kelli Strawser, said, “Emerie is a caring, considerate child who always works hard in school and does her best. She has a very compassionate and nurturing nature. She is kind to all of her peers and is always willing to help them.” Emerie’s kindness didn’t just start in second grade, Cindy Schrader her kindergarten teacher noticed it two years ago. “She was a sweet little girl,” Schrader said. “Always cooperative. Always helpful. Always helping her friends.” But Karen Bell, a paraprofessional who works with a special needs student in Emerie’s classroom, can’t say enough about her character. “Emerie is constantly aware of the many needs of our special education students, especially one child who needs a great deal of support. She looks out for him in the classroom and she asks many questions about his disability as well as how she can talk to him to get him to respond to her,” said Bell. Emerie doesn’t think it’s unusual that she’s nice to her wheelchair bound classmate, she just wants him to join in where he can. “He can’t talk and do stuff like other people,” Emerie said. “He likes funny things. I like reading to him and he likes funny books.” In fact she looks for books her classmate will enjoy and brings them back to the classroom. But Bell said Emerie isn’t pushy about it. “She will politely ask him if he would like to read with her or play a math game with her, and she will always wait for his response and respects his response,” Bell said. “Yesterday I played a math game with him and

he actually won two times,” Emerie said. But that’s not all, Bell said. “Emerie is also very good with the other challenging students in her class,” Bell said. “I watch her try to make their day easier in the classroom as well as on the playground. If all of the other girls are upset with a behaviorally challenged child in her room, Emerie will play with her on the playground just so that she doesn’t become upset.” Maybe that’s the key to how Emerie’s responds to the special needs boy in her classroom. Emerie said she helps him because he can’t do things like other people, “and also because he’s my friend.” At home, Emerie is the only girl with three brothers. Her parents, Tony and Amber Wotta, have a busy farm life. “In the summer, I hardly get to see my dad,” Emerie said. But they have a fourwheeler and a golf cart which they all enjoy and “sometimes we go on road trips. First we have to harvest, then we can go,”

she said. The family trips are to places like Cedar Point and Disney and Emerie likes “staying in a big hotel down in Florida.” She also likes school. Her favorite subjects are math and science. “I like adding up the numbers and finding out the sum. In science we get to do cool experiments,” Emerie said. Which of her teachers has been her favorite these three years? “All of them,” Emerie said. When she grows up, Emerie has “lots of stuff ” she’d like to do. She’d like being a nurse. “My mom was a nurse,” Emerie said. “I’d like being an artist girl — I like drawing. I’d like being an singer — I like music,” Emerie said. Bell can think of one more occupation where Emerie would excel. “I think someday she will become a special education teacher as she has such a sweet and caring way about her. She has a very gentle and understanding way about her that (the special needs classmate) just loves,” Bell said.

Jennifer Hunn By Kathy Jessup Journal correspondent

Twelve-year-old Jennifer Hunn generally has a shy demeanor. She’s the kind of girl who doesn’t much like standing out in a crowd. But she just can’t hide when her strong, perfectpitched voice elevates the sound of Riverside Elementary School’s 100-member choir. The fifth-grade daughter of Anna Yoder and Mark Hunn, just may have to grow accustom to the attention that comes with the singing voice she’s working hard now to develop at school and in her church choir. Beverly Smith, Constantine Schools’ vocal music specialist, spends much of her time behind a piano when her elementary chorus works to prepare a new piece. But last year, a new sound caused her to walk down the rows of singing students to discover who

MENDON ELEMENTARY

was delivering the rich tone, one that is more mature than most elementary singing voices. “Wow! There was this great big tone and she was perfectly on pitch,” Smith recalled. “You could tell the way she held herself and from her facial expression that this was something she loved to do.” That’s created some trepidation for the talented, young singer. “I don’t like being the center of attention,” she explained. So far, Smith has not been able to convince Hunn to perform a solo. In a compromise, the director offered to let Hunn select several other singers to share the spotlight with her. Smith said she was impressed with Hunn’s choices, showing the young woman has a good ear for voices that complement hers. The Mottville girl said she practices her music

daily and has begun playing trombone in band. Each Wednesday, she is a back-up singer with a band at her Constantine church and she also sings in the regular church choir. Hunn is both creative and tough. She likes to write and draw and hopes someday to become a teacher. But not a music teacher. “I’m pretty good at math so I think I’d like to be a math teacher.” You’d be wrong to conclude that Hunn is shy and unassuming in all things. She enjoys playing basketball and football, and rolls her eyes when someone assumes she means touch football. She’s not afraid of taking or executing a tackle, she said. It all seems to fit her approach to life. “You just have to always try hard and don’t give up.”

COLON ELEMENTARY

Gracie Russell By Jef Rietsma Journal correspondent

In an age where video games, television and texting occupy the hands and minds of many children, Mendon Elementary School fourth-grade student Gracie Russell has focused her attention on a long-lost talent. Heavily influenced by her “Mimi,” grandmother Emily Shearer of rural Three Rivers, Russell spends her free time either knitting or running a sewing machine and making pillow cases, table runners, potholders and clothes for her American Girl doll. She’s also handy with a needle and thread. Russell said she’s not aware of any other student at her school who can run a sewing machine. “I’ve been watching Mimi sew and knit since I was probably 2, and when I was about 7 years old, she decided it was time for me to learn,” Russell said. Her work at sewing recently took on a more earnest tone after her great-grandfather – Robert Leeds, of Tucson, Ariz. – sent her a 160year replica of a Singer sewing machine. The special-edition Singer was developed to look like the company’s original sewing machine but includes options found on modern devices. The Singer has 12 settings for patterns, including zig-zag, leafs, flower, buttonhole and stitching. It also features a number of attachments that Russell hopes to someday learn how to use. Shearer said her father’s gift to

Russell ensures her granddaughter will maintain an interest in sewing – and for more than just a hobby. Russell said she would someday like to make a quilt and knit a sweater. In the meantime, this summer she and her Mimi plan to make “hope dolls” and pillow cases to donate to Domestic and Sexual Abuse Services of St. Joseph County. The clothes she makes for her American Girl Doll come from an easy-to-follow pattern. Russell, who turns 10 at the end of May, said she likes to dress her doll in clothes she makes herself. Mimi last year took her granddaughter to a one-day sewing class in Newaygo. By far, Russell was the

youngest participant. “I think they liked the work I did because they kept holding up what I’d make and showing everybody,” Russell said, adding that she prefers to run a sewing machine than she does knitting. Russell this summer also will participate in classes at Bernina Sewing Center in Kalamazoo. What Russell will work on next is anybody’s guess. Her Mimi said the Singer sewing machine came with an impressive booklet that details patterns from the 1850s on through subsequent decades. Russell suddenly perked up and remembered a potential job she has for her school's principal, Brandon Wenzel. “Mr. Wenzel said his dog ate the zipper off his pillow case and he wants me to fix it,” she said. “With the sewing machine I have, that shouldn’t be too hard to do.” Russell, a Park Township resident, also plans to sew items to enter in the still class at the St. Joseph County Grange Fair this fall. Mimi, meanwhile, said she’s pleased to have left a legacy to her granddaughter. “I’ve collected a lot of thread and cloth through the years, and I live only three minutes away, so as long as I’m still around, I’ll do what I can for her to keep up the sewing,” said the 58-year-old grandmother, a 30-year member of the Weft and Wooly Spinners of St. Joseph County.

Jonathan West By Terry Katz katz@sturgisjournal.com

Nine-year-old Jonathan West said his favorite subject in school is math, especially doing division. Jonathan, son of Scott and Bianca West, attends fourth grade at Colon Elementary School. He has two brothers, Joshua, a second grader at Colon School, and Jeremiah, 2. Jonathan said he thinks he might be a gym teacher some day. Jonathan said he gets good grades and hopes to become a Michigan Wolverine or attend MSU when he graduates. Meanwhile he enjoys playing football and basketball in Colon. The West family lives on a farm near Colon. Jonathan said he loves the country life because he enjoys learning about nature. “We have a few cats outside and a big brown mare,” he said. Jonathan enjoys hunting with his dad and third cousin. He has gone deer hunting, too.


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Saturday & Sunday, March 31-April 1, 2012

www.sturgisjournal.com LAGRANGE, IND. — PARKSIDE ELEMENTARY

Zoe Williams By Wanda Yoder Journal Correspondent

Zoe Williams, 10, a fourth grader at Parkside Elementary School, LaGrange, Ind., often brings a lot of ooohs and aaahs from the crowds at how gifted she is when she performs in her sports. In school, it is nothing but straight A’s and 100 percent effort in everything she does. Zoe is the daughter of Jeremy and Andrea Williams of LaGrange. Jeremy is also her softball coach in the LaGrange summer sports program. Her light shines most when she takes to the floor for Creative Gymnastic Center performances. Zoe began gymnastics at the age of 4 and has trophies for 2008, 2009 and 2010. “I hope to one day attain level 10 in competition,” she said. Zoe also has a trophy from the 2009 Laker Fun

Run, held at Lakeland High School. She also participated in the Susan B. Komen Race, recently held in Mishawaka, and raised $135 in the “Jump Rope for Heart” for the

American Heart Association, held last month at Parkside Elementary. “I like helping people,” she stressed. “Her mom and I are so proud of her,” Jeremy

said. “One of the most wonderful things about Zoe is that she has this innate drive to be the best. She never give ups, and will consistently work on something until

STURGIS - EASTWOOD ELEMENTARY

in the recent Science Fair at Parkside. The family does travel a little for gymnastics, but not terribly far. Softball involves more traveling, especially when tournaments take the team around the state. Mom does hair and makeup and her leotards are purchased through the gymnastics team. However, gymnastics can be expensive as you advance. “We pay a monthly fee for Zoe to participate on the Creative Gymnastics team, and it isn’t cheap. As long as she keeps that desire to continue, we will do whatever we can to make sure the opportunity is there for her,” Jeremy stressed. Zoe is also a role model for her twin sisters, Ella and Ava, age 5, who also like to dress in leotards and tumble the living room floor. Her older brother Elijah,12, is more into the arts.

she succeeds. I believe Zoe will stay with gymnastics for as long as she can. She recently wrote a paper for school that she wants to be on the Indiana University gymnastics team,” he said. “She’s a keeper,” her mother Andrea interjected. (Both Jeremy and Andrea are IU graduates.) Not only is Zoe noted for her gymnastics, but as a role model for others. “Zoe is a model student, she is a joy to have in class. She was the Positive Attitude Award winner the first nine weeks of school,” Denise Shull, fourth-grade teacher at Parkside, said of Zoe. “Zoe's positive attitude toward school, her classmates, teachers and staff truly makes her an asset. She begins tasks without being asked, sees a need and helps others. She excels in her studies and always gives it her personal best,” Shull explained. Zoe was also named Principal’s Award winner

BURR OAK ELEMENTARY

Brooklyn Hernandez By Rosalie Currier currier@sturgisjournal.com

Nyah Campos By Rosalie Currier currier@sturgisjournal.com

Nyah Campos is 11 and a fifth grader at Eastwood Elementary in Sturgis. School isn’t hard for Nyah, but that doesn’t mean she’s lazy. “Nyah not only tries her hardest at everything she does, she is willing to help others be successful too,” said her teacher Susan Amburgey. “To me, math is the easiest,” Nyah said. And when asked which is the hardest, she paused and admitted most subjects aren’t too hard “but if I had to say it would be science,” Nyah said. She likes school and her teacher Mrs. Amburgey. “She’s really funny. She might be strict, but she’s really nice too,” Nyah said. And she has fond memories of her second-grade teacher, Lesley Starkey from Congress. “Mrs. Starkey is funny and loving and she used to

bring her dog into school,” Nyah said. Starkey’s black Labrador retriever, Blue is clearly a fond memory from the way Nyah’s eye lite up. Starkey has some fond memories of her own. “As a second grader, Nyah was always determined to do her best in every subject. She pushed herself and was able to set goals that stretched her academically,” Starkey said. “I remember that Nyah had a real passion for writing; whenever she finished an assignment early, she would be writing a story of her choice, and they always highlighted her imagination and creativity,” she said. Nyah was pleasant in the classroom with a smile on her face. And she was willing to help others, Starkey added. Nyah’s parents are Angelo and Leah Campos. She’s a middle child with

an older sister Michael and two brothers Jesse and Evan. Of her family life, Nyah said, “We go a lot of places — Michigan Adventure in August,” she said. And last year they went to “Kalahari” a water park in Sandusky Ohio. In her free time, Nyah likes to crochet. “I’ve made writsters (mittens that don’t cover the fingers) and a hat,” Nyah said. “And I like art — I like drawing but I’m not good at it. My sister is.” But even though she doesn’t feel overly successful, Nyah said “I like drawing flowers.” And while she still young, Nyah said some careers she might consider would be nursing or teaching. Being a nurse sounds interesting because she likes helping people and a teacher because “teaching people is fun for me,” Nyah said.

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Brooklyn Hernandez is a smart little girl. She turned 6 years old part way through second grade. “When I started reading I read Dick and Jane books with my Grandma Linda,” Brooklyn said. That was before she went to school. With that advantage and the fact that Brooklyn was doing second grade work in first grade, there didn’t seem to be any reason not to move her up, said her mother Cindy Hernandez, the Burr Oak kindergarten teacher. So Brooklyn was bumped into Melissa Poley’s second-grade class and even that’s not a struggle. “Brooklyn tries her best at everything she does,” Poley said. “If she feels she could do better at something she tries again and succeeds.” Her efforts encourage the whole class. “Brooklyn is a good leader and someone the other students look up to,” Poley said. “They push themselves to do better because of Brooklyn and her age.” Maybe she pushes herself to keep ahead of her brothers — Braden, Braxton, and Branson. Her only sister Braylyn is younger the five children of Fidel and Cindy Hernandez. With her family, Brooklyn likes “to go to the flea market in Paw

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Paw. There’s lots to see,” she said. Brooklyn, who is all girl, like shopping for “girl toys and play sets.” But they do other things too. The family play soccer together and goes swimming in the pool. “Sometimes I do baseball,” she said. And her favorite food is “chicken tacos with salsa on them. My dad makes them the best,”

Brooklyn said with emphasis was on best. Back at school her favorite subjects are math — subtraction and addition — and her favorite teacher was her mom, last year in kindergarten. In fact, that’s what Brooklyn would like to do when she grows up. “Be a kindergarten teacher when my mom gets old and can’t do it,” she said.

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www.sturgisjournal.com Saturday & Sunday, March 31-April 1, 2012 BURR OAK ELEMENTARY

WHITE PIGEON - CENTRAL ELEMENTARY

Noah Norton

Reyna Fielis

By Rosalie Currier currier@sturgisjournal.com

Noah Norton of Burr Oak has a sense of confidence without being cocky. It’s an unusual trait for an 11-yearold fifth-grade student. “I consider Noah to be quite outstanding,” said one of his teachers, Deb Rifenburgh. In fourth grade he was doing fifthgrade math, in fifth grade he’s on to sixth- and seventh-grade math, Rifenburgh said. Maybe that because numbers are fun for Noah. “I like figuring out numbers and equations and using all the numbers,” Noah said. He also likes reading especially action stories and mysteries. “I like anything but I like those the most,” Noah said. Another of his favorite teachers he is Patty Seeba. “Noah is every teacher’s dream student,” Seeba said. “He does everything you ask and more and is smiling and enjoying every minute of it.” Noah is also willing to help students who struggle, Seeba said. “That shows me he has a heart for others. Noah has a positive influence on his entire class.” And he also likes sports.

Noah plays soccer in Colon and this year was on a basketball team for Burr Oak that had a good season. “We won almost every game,” he said. Perhaps that’s because, “Noah’s a great basketball player too,” Seeba said. When he’s not busy at school Noah spends time with his family — two younger brother, Dominic and Dillon. His mom, Kendra Norton lives in Burr Oak and his dad, Kevin Norton lives in Colon. “My dad and my brothers and I like to go to Ponderosa Steak House and eat at the buffet. We might go watch a movie or go to Jungle Joe’s,” Noah said. With his mom, Noah said, “My mom has friends that come over and if it’s nice we’ll go out and play.” But when he has free time, Noah also likes quiet activities. “I like to read a good book or play a video game,” he said. And while he doesn’t have to decide on a career just yet, Noah’s been thinking about it. “I want to become a lawyer because I like helping people with their problems,” Noah said.

By Kathy Jessup Journal Correspondent

The blonde curls that surround her face and cascade down her back provide the first clue to the music star the 10year-old Reyna Fielis idolizes. “Taylor Swift is one of my favorite singers,” she said, fingering the fretboard of her father’s shiny guitar. “I hope I can actually become famous for my music and take my family with me. I hope I can make it with this band. We really try our hardest.” Fielis, a third grader at White Pigeon’s Central Elementary School, is part of an all-girl band she helped create with two classmates. They’ve been a musical hit playing at school and community events and the dream of an American Idol audition is always in the backs of their minds. Her mother is one of her biggest supporters, Fielis said. “When we see someone famous playing a concert, my momma will tell me, ‘Reyna, someday that will be your concert’.” Today, Fielis concentrates on her music; she’s self-assured and confident that fame won’t send her down the destructive path some other young performers have followed. “I look up to Taylor Swift and she hasn’t messed up and gone the wrong way,” said the young, White Pigeon singer/songwriter. “I look up to my momma and

papa too. We’re a whole musical family. I’m not playing for myself. I’m playing for the people that I love and for Jesus.” Young Fielis’ love of music is multi-faceted. Although she’s had no formal training, she writes melodies and lyrics for some of her own songs. And it’s music with a message. One of her first tunes was about the academic challenges of third grade. Another entitled “Super Hero” says she wants to be a super hero for girls who are being

bullied. The lyrics come easier for her now than the chords. “I’m not into bar chords yet because my fingers are still to small,” she smiled. She sighs when she talks about becoming as accomplished on the guitar as her father. She likes country music and some pop artists like Selena Gomez. “I also like Christian music,” she explained. “I love singing the Christian music about Jesus.” The White Pigeon girl’s

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creativity isn’t limited to music. She enjoys art, something that she’s pursued both in 4-H and assisting her sister Melissa, 14, in painting murals on the interior walls at their church. And there may be a novel in her. “When you read a book, you might want to change what happens, but you can’t,” she explained. “Writing is so much fun because you can make whatever you want happen in your own story.” Fielis admits to a certain amount of stage fright, a little shaking when she begins to sing and an occasional false start. But once her guitar chords and voice begin to mesh, ease sets in. The daughter of Tracy and Bruce Fielis also has a competitive side that plays out on at the roller rink where the fourth grader is an avid roller hockey competitor. Her father coaches her “Wolf Pack” league team. “I love hockey and I really like to play. I wish I could play professionally.” Reyna aspires to go to college, but she has a few years to figure out a career that combines singing, strumming, writing and roller-skating. Whatever her choice, the White Pigeon girl will apply some of her dad’s advice. “My papa will ask, do I want to do a good performance or a great performance? If I want to be great, I know I have to try really hard and practice.”

MENDON ELEMENTARY

Sarah Sutter By Jef Rietsma Journal correspondent

An appearance of bare feet, mosquito-bitten legs and a streak of sweat across her forehead is a common summertime look for Sarah Sutter. Good luck, however, catching a glimpse of the Mendon Elementary School fourthgrade student. “She’s outside the minute she gets up, she’ll come in for lunch and it seems more often than not, it’s dark outside before I’ll see her again,” said her mother, Shelly Sutter. The 9-year-old Sutter isn’t one to sit still for long. In fact, sports editors for local newspapers would be wise to familiarize themselves with Sutter. In about five years, her surname could be common in sports page headlines. For starters, Sutter loves basketball. She spent plenty of time this season watching and learning from the Lady Hornets squad that went on to

dominate its opponents this season. She was a critical component to the elementary school’s “Rising Stars” basketball program, which staged competitive games against teams from other area school districts. Her softball talents are already creating a buzz. She pitches, she’s an apt first baseman and she loves to catch. That defensive versatility should have Mendon’s high school softball coaches drooling. In addition, Sutter’s secondyear participation in Girls on the Run could be a prelude to a commitment to cross country. She’d be following in the footsteps of her seventh-grade sister, Julia, who is active with Mendon Middle School’s cross country, basketball and softball teams. Sutter was modest about her activities and it took some prodding before her mother finally shared a bit more about her daughter’s busy, active

lifestyle. “It was fun watching Sarah play basketball this year because her development has been obvious,” she said. “She’s at a point where she can dribble and look around the court instead of dribbling and watching the ball only.” That’s one example of how Sutter’s athletic development has her on track to becoming an integral part of future Lady Hornets sport squads. As for softball, when Sutter’s not firing dozens of pitches to her mother or father, Steve, a makeshift strike zone – defined by a clever set up in the family’s back yard that involves a tire hanging stationary about waist high, and fencing for a backstop – allows her to perfect her pitching when there’s nobody to throw to. Sutter said she’s still apprehensive about being up to bat but has no qualms taking the field for defensive duty. She proudly shows a spot on

her wrist where an errant fastball bit her. “It left a bruise for, like, weeks,” she said, while her mother added Sarah didn’t miss accepting a pitch behind the plate despite the sting. Once she has her running shoes on, Sutter keeps moving as she practices for St. Joseph County's Girls on the Run event May 17. Her running days, however, won’t end there. She also faithfully participates in the 5k Hornet Hustle, a benefit run staged as part of the annual Mendon Riverfest community celebration. With the subject of the Mendon Riverfest raised, Sutter mentioned that she has been a part of the popular opening-night lip-sync event since she was 2 years old. Sarah, meanwhile, said she and her friends enjoy singing and dancing, and the Riverfest lip-sync event is a showcase opportunity for them to play out their love for the stage.

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Saturday & Sunday, March 31-April 1, 2012

www.sturgisjournal.com CONSTANTINE - RIVERSIDE ELEMENTARY

Marquise Wykle By Kathy Jessup Journal correspondent

Combine a pair of slicksoled dress shoes with a heavy, hip hop beat and Marquise Wykle’s limbs become multi-jointed appendages and he spins like a top. The 10-year-old Riverside Elementary School fifth grader is considered “the man” when it comes to bustin’ a move. Just ask Beverly Smith, Constantine School District’s music specialist. “Michael Jackson could have learned a few things from Marquise,” Smith gushes. “His dancing skills, in the hip hot and popular area, are the best I have ever seen in all my 37 years of teaching students.” Some friends knew about Wykle’s talent. But it was during a school as-

sembly, when a teacher picked him to dance in front of the student body, that his performing fame spread. Wykle takes the praise in stride, simply shrugging when he’s asked how he perfected a physical style that makes his moves appear to be flesh unencumbered by bones. “My mom said I used to dance when I was a baby,” explains Wykle, the son of Mark and Dottie Wykle, of White Pigeon. “Whenever I was standing up, she’d always catch me dancing.” The White Pigeon youth also exudes a selfconfidence that comes with knowing you’ve got moves. “I enjoy it and I’m not afraid to dance for anybody,” he says. “I don’t really have a role model. I do my own thing. I like to

practice my moves with my friend. The toughest thing to do is the moon walk. I like lots of singers’ music, but probably Chris Brown and mostly hip hop.” As Wykle’s dancing fame has spread, so too have the requests for lessons. “People ask if I can teach them stuff. A few of my friends have asked and a couple of them got the hang of it.” According to Riverside’s dance wizard, the ability to dance apparently is not genetic. “I tried to teach my sister Tadasha. She’s 9 and in third grade. But she just couldn’t get the hang of it,” Wykle smiles. Still the young man has good advice for the dance-challenged. “If you don’t get the hang of being a good

dancer, maybe you can be very good at something else,” he says. “Don’t be afraid to try other things.” Wykle embraces his own advice. His first choice for a future career is actually basketball, something else that he practices to perfect his crossovers, spins and dribbling through his legs. Under Wykle’s own training regime, he concentrates now on his ballhandling skills; perfecting shooting will come later. “I would like to be a point guard,” he says. “Maybe when I get older, I’ll want to be something else though.” With his can-do attitude and strong self-confidence, Wykle just may play in the National Basketball Association and spend the off-season showcasing his dancing in music videos.

BRONSON - CHICAGO STREET SCHOOL

STURGIS - WENZEL ELEMENTARY

Dakota Smith By Rosalie Currier currier@sturgisjournal.com

Dakota Smith, a Bronson fourth grader, is full of life. On a warm March day, she was especially excited about an upcoming trip to Florida. “I just can’t wait,” Dakota said as she bounced lightly. It was a family trip with her parent Josh and Tammy Smith, sister Skylar and grandma. Dakota was looking forward to Legoland, Downtown Disney and the warm weather. But Dakota is excited about many things. In her free time, Dakota likes to draw. “I draw real good. I like to make stuff and I like to read,” she said. In the summer Dakota likes to play with friends, ride bikes and go camping. “We go camping all the time,” she said. Her favorite sport is bowling and she likes baseball, “but I always throw too hard,” which stresses her arm. In school, Dakota’s favorite subject is math because, “I always get 100 percent,” she said. “I was the only one who passed a test we took yesterday.” Maybe that’s because she pays attention. Tracy Bassage, her teacher said, “Dakota is always doing what she is supposed to do. She’s always paying 100 percent attention and is on task when needed.”

Julio Garcia By Rosalie Currier currier@sturgisjournal.com

Dakota’s sunny personality lights the classroom. “She is cheerful and respectful. She loves to smile and has a great sense of humor,” Bassage said. Dakota clearly likes school and talked about several favorite teachers. “Mrs Bassage is a fun teacher. She helps you out when you get things wrong,” Dakota said. She also fondly remembers her first-grade teacher, Stacey Winter. “Mrs. Winter was nice and friendly. She was a good teacher,” Dakota said. And Winter remembers Dakota well. “She is a such a sweetheart,” Winter said. “She always had a smile or joke — she was quick to give a joke.” There’s nothing a teacher likes better than a student who lives up to her potential.

“Dakota always did her personal best,” Winter said. But what makes Dakota outstanding is her “willingness to push further. She gave 110 percent effort in everything she did,” Winter said. “And with a smile.” After one year at Anderson Elementary, Dakota has been at Ryan. And while she looks forward to Chicago Street School, already she know what she’ll miss. “This is my last year doing Mileage Club,” Dakota said. During recess, “When you run around the whole playground four times, you get a foot,” she said. “Last year I got 23 feet. I put them on a necklace.” Bassage and the Ryan staff will miss her too. “Dakota is just a great student,” Bassage said. “I use her often as the role model for others to follow.”

Julio Garcia, a Wenzel Elementary second grader, has already made an impression on his teachers. Not because he’s perfect — he’s all boy, said Julio’s teacher Patty Rutenbar. “He makes mistakes, but he learns from them and tries not to do them again,” Rutenbar said.’ Julio loves a good time on the play ground. “He has many friends and is a well rounded young man. He likes to fool around just like any boy. He is a likeable person. I’m very glad that he is in my class,” Rutenbar said. That could be said of many students so it’s Julio’s intelligence that amazes the teachers. “The first strength Julio showed us was his gift for learning his math facts,” Rutenbar said. In second grade he’s mastered addition, subtraction, and multiplication and “right now he is on letter J of division,” Rutenbar said. Julio admits that math is his favorite subject. “Cuz I’m good at it,” he said. “I pretty much like it.” But he also likes reading. It’s Julio’s second year in Rutenbar’s class first and second grade combined classroom. The only other teacher he’s had was in kindergarten with Sherry

Hibbard. “Julio was an incredible reader even in kindergarten. I believe he was reading at a second grade level when he left kindergarten,” Hibbard said. In second grade he’s jumped two more grade levels and likes reading “Long books. Chapter books and funny books,” Julio said. Currently he’s reading “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” No. 6 — again. He’s been through the series several times, Rutenbar said. He can read and comprehend well into the fourth-grade level, she said. “Julio is pretty amazed with himself,” Rutenbar said. “He once said to me, ‘Can you believe it? I can read fourth grade books!’” Julio is the younger son of Daniel and Maria Garcia. His older brother is also Daniel. Rutenbar is impressed with with Julio’s supportive parents. “They encourage him to always do his best. They truly value education,” she said. And although he’s only 8 Rutenbar can see that Julio can have a bright future. Hibbard agreed. “He is a child who thinks things through thoroughly before he ever says anything. He was very thoughtful in his answers to questions and gave deep answers,” she said. “With intelligence like he has, Julio will be very successful in life,” Rutenbar said.

LAGRANGE, IND. — PARKSIDE ELEMENTARY

Hunter Frost By Wanda Yoder Journal Correspondent

If words could describe Hunter Frost, they would call him a “well-rounded sportsman.” Hunter, 10, is the son of Rob and Noel Frost of LaGrange, Ind., and a fifth grader at Parkside Elementary School. He began his sporting career at the age of 4 with the West End Soccer League in Shipshewana. His was the winning team in 2006 and was sponsored by LaGrange Veterinary Clinic, LaGrange. He began playing football, basketball and baseball at Parkside as soon as he could and many trophies commemorate his accomplishments. “I think he has had a ball in his hands since he was born,” said Rob Frost. “Every night when I get home he wants to go out and practice. But, I think with him practice is not work, but fun!” “Hunter has a good

memory and really focused at everything he does,” Noel stressed. Rob added that he also has a good sports attitude in that “not everyone

wins.” “Hunter is a role model for other students,” said Galen Mast, Parkside principal. Hunter’s trophy wins

and accomplishments include: Six years at West End Soccer, 2006 winning competition, at age of four; in 2009: Parkside Vikings, football quarter-

back; and LaGrange Cubs, LaGrange championship, winning runs; in 2010: Little Hoosiers Punt, Pass and Kick, fourth grade first place; and in 2011: Named MVP for the Parkside Jets football team; NFL Punt, Pass and Kick at Cole Center in Kendallville; Little Hoosiers Punt, Pass and Kick at Cole Center in Kendallville; 2011 All-Star Baseball Travel Team (Indiana Energy); 2011 Bulldog Bash against Auburn; and played point guard for Lakeland All-Stars in the Hoop Dreams competition at Lakeland High School. Hunter excels academically as well. Mathematics being his key subject, he knows all the stats and strives to follow after his sports idol Peyton Manning and to someday play for the Indianapolis Colts. His future plans include attending college, Notre Dame in particular. Even though his sched-

ule is busy with practice and playing sports, he is studying guitar and manages to reach out in the community, volunteering at Granger Community Church, Granger. Hunter admitted that he was influenced by his older sisters, Kaitlyn and Kayleigh, who both played and competed in sports while attending Lakeland High School. Kaitlyn is a senior at IPFW, where she played three years of NCAA division I softball. Rob Frost, employed at Zimmer Orthopedics in Warsaw, also played football, basketball and baseball while in high school and Noel, a full-time mom, played tennis and was on the cheer team at her high school. Paternal grandparents are Gordon Frost of LaGrange and Carolyn Antone of Clearwater, Fla. Maternal grandparents are Lloyd and Melody Carney of Mount Pleasant, S.C.


www.sturgisjournal.com Saturday & Sunday, March 31-April 1, 2012

7

NOTTAWA SCHOOL

CENTREVILLE ELEMENTARY

Samantha Chaplin By Terry Katz katz@sturgisjournal.com

Ten-year-old Samantha Chaplin has her sights set on some day achieving the black belt degree in karate. Samantha, a fifth grader at Centreville Elementary School, is the daughter of Rob and Mary Jo Chaplin of Parkville. She has an older brother, Jeremy, 21, who also likes karate. Samantha started her karate training at age 5 at Anglemyers Tae Kwon Do in Constantine. She has won trophies and medals over the years as she sharpens her skills. She is now looking forward to a state competition in Noblesville, Ind. Samantha said she also likes to swim and ride her bike. Some day she wants to be a teacher. Her favorite class at Centreville School is social studies.

Rowan Klar By Terry Katz katz@sturgisjournal.com

Ten-year-old Rowan Klar always finds time to try something new. The Nottawa Community School fourth grader is already experienced as a performer. Rowan is the daughter of Robert and Michelle Klar. She has a younger brother, Eathan, 7, who attends first grade at Nottawa. She has had small parts in five Sturgis Civic Players productions go-

THREE RIVERS - ANDREWS ELEMENTARY

Journal correspondent

Christine Pashby said she remembers looking over a drawing her daughter, Alise Roberts, brought home as a pre-school student in Three Rivers. “Her teacher said something to me about how impressed she was with how well Alise drew … it was just a picture of a witch on a broom, but it didn’t look like the work of a 4-year-old,” Pashby said. Now a 10-year-old, fourth-grade student at Andrews Elementary, Roberts and her artistic talents have blossomed. So much so, she has an idea of her ultimate goal. “I’d like to go to college and someday be a famous artist, so famous that everybody knows me by just my first name,” she said. Step aside, Vincent and Pablo, and make room for Alise. Roberts said she is fond of drawing flowers and fairies. She said flowers are fun to draw because they are colorful and bring happiness to people. Fairies, she said, are a fantasy object in which she has a personal interest. Though modest about her artistic talent, Roberts said she is usually in popular demand at school

when her class has a drawing assignment, whether it’s in her classroom with teacher Brea Bennett or in art class with teacher Judson Stemaly. “People come to me to help get started … sometimes I don’t get a chance to get my own work done because I’ve been too busy with other people,” she said. Roberts said she isn’t sure from whom her artistic gene was inherited. Her mother, though, noted that Roberts’ stepgrandfather was responsible for developing the universal “biohazard” symbol, a creation he developed years ago while working for a company in Saginaw. “Alise got to know my dad through a lot of his

drawings and I have his briefcase with all his art tools in it,” Pashby said. “He used a lot of drawing utensils and they’ve kind of become an heirloom that Alise is putting to good use.” During her years at Andrews Elementary, Roberts has wound up creating art work that has been on display at the Carnegie Center for the Arts. A current display, called Save the Frogs, includes some of her work. Roberts said she especially enjoys art galleries because the drawings they feature serve as inspiration. It’s not unusual to see her with a clipboard, notepad and pencil in hand, as she’s inclined to draw when something enticing catches her eye.

NOTTAWA SCHOOL

Quinn Kelley By Terry Katz katz@sturgisjournal.com

Ten-year-old Quinn Kelley has many interesting chores to do after school. Quinn, son of Kenton and Michelle Kelley, attends fifth grade at Nottawa Community School. First, Quin said he mixes powered milk for his calf. Quinn has two feeder steers he is raising for 4-H projects. He joined the Fawn River Clovers last year. In his first experience showing livestock at the St. Joseph County Grange Fair, he had the grand champion turkeys. Quinn said his turkeys sold for $625. That was enough money to invest in this year’s livestock. He

bought his day-old calves for $75 each. This year he is also buying two lambs and four more turkeys. But this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to pets at the Kelley house. “We have three donkeys,

one small pony, a horse and a mule. We also have three cats, three dogs, two turtles and five snakes,” Quinn said. In addition to taking care of his two feeder calves, he helps water the livestock and clean cages of the house pets. He also likes helping his dad on the tractor. Quinn said he has grown up with snakes in the house. Other pets at the Kelley house include a hedgehog, leopard gecko, a tarantula and three gold fish. Quinn said he’s been thinking about what he might like to do as a career some day. “I think I’d like to be an electrician like my dad,” he said. “I like working with electricity.”

sored by Three Rivers Community Players last year. She was in “Annie” and the “Christmas Show.” Rowan enjoys playing soccer. She has been a member of the Sturgis Youth Soccer organization since 2006. This year, Rowan will participate in Girls on the Run at Centreville. She has also joined the Burr Oak 4-H Club and plans to raise chickens. At school, Rowan said reading is her favorite subject.

Serving You For 36 Years.

Alise Roberts By Jef Rietsma

ing back to 2006. At age 4, she participated in a Valentine’s show sponsored by the Civic Players. At age 6, in 2008, she appeared in “Wizard of Oz.” The in 2009, at age 7, she was in the Civic Players “Best Christmas Pageant Ever.” Rowan appeared in “Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat” at age 8, and “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” at age 9. Rowan also appeared in two productions spon-

She also has ambitions of possibly parlaying her love for art with writing. On her own, she wrote and illustrated a story called “Odd Flower.” The theme promotes accepting people in spite of their differences and focuses on a flower that is picked on because it looks different than all other flowers in a garden. Roberts, who is also a student council member at Andrews, said her artwork in Stemaly’s class often stays in his room. She explained that he has a tendency to hang on to her artwork and use it as an example for future classes. “It’s OK,” she said. “I’m glad that something I make or do in class can help someone else.” Meanwhile, Pashby said she has been looking for art classes outside of school where her daughter’s talents might be nurtured, either through a class or the expertise of an individual. Pashby said she’s aware of a graphicdesign class being offered through the high school’s CTE program. Whether it’s still available when Roberts is old enough to attend concerns Pashby. “Alise has a real gift and I’d like to see it developed and given some sort of direction she can take with it,” she said.

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Focus on area teens

May 2012


2

Saturday & Sunday, May 5-6, 2012

www.sturgisjournal.com STURGIS MIDDLE SCHOOL

BURR OAK HIGH SCHOOL

Ben and Brady Littlefield By Rosalie Currier currier@sturgisjournal.com

Tiffany Jackson By Rosalie Currier currier@sturgisjournal.com

Tiffany Jackson, a 17year-old Burr Oak 11th grader, loves school, sports and her family. “I love history. I like English pretty well, too,” Tiffany said. “Chemistry is kind of interesting to me. I like all the subjects. I like learning I guess.” And there’s more. “I love to play sports — softball, volleyball, basketball. I’ve been in cheerleading,” Tiffany said. The draw for Tiffany is the competition and being with her friends — many of whom she’s been with in Burr Oak since pre-kindergarten. When she is home with the family, Tiffany loves that too. Her parents are Robert Jackson of Burr Oak and Teresa Bender of LaGrange, Ind., and she has five siblings. “I love going on family vacation. It’s a great bonding time for us,” Tiffany said. Tiffany fondly remembers a trip to Disney they went on when she was about 10. “Now that I’m older I really like up north in Michigan — the scenery and being in nature,” she said. Family tops the list of what Tiffany loves and she credits her dad for having the greatest impact on her life. “My dad is always there for me. He helps me push through school. He’s very straight forward. He doesn’t sugar

coat things. He tells me what I need to hear, not what I want to hear.” But times haven’t always been rosy. One of Tiffany’s most difficult times was her parents’ divorce but she made it and has advice for others going through tough times. “Stay strong and keep the ones who want to help you close,” Tiffany said. Sometimes those who want to help are teachers and it was hard for Tiffany to name a favorite. “They all help me,” she said. “I don’t put to put one out there. They all teach in different ways.” But she did mention Jennifer VanHoe, who teaches high school chemistry and biology as a really good teacher. It’s a case of mutual respect. “Tiffany is a wonderful student,” VanHoe said. “She always comes to class prepared and ready to learn. She works hard and will put in the extra work to get high grades,” She’s also kind and willing to help others. “Tiffany is very selfless and always puts others first, especially when it comes to her family. She manages her class work between family and sports,” VanHoe said. In sports, Tiffany gives “100 percent at practice and games. She is very coachable and is an essential part of the team,” Van Hoe said. “I am truly honored to have Tiffany as a student.”

Ben and Brady Littlefield are 14-year old Sturgis eighth graders. Eric Anderson, the middle school principal, said the twins are “respectful, courteous and outstanding.” They are actively involved in school and outside of it. The majority of their outside-of-school activities has anything thing to do with outdoors. Both boys said their favorite past time is to hunt and fish. “My Grandpa Cook took me hunting since I was like 2,” said Brady. “Grandpa Littlefield takes us fishing.” Their other favorite activity is showing cattle, pigs and horses in 4-H and

Michigan Livestock Expo through Michigan State University. Last year, at MLE, Ben’s hog was the grand champion overall. The year before, Brandy’s hog was the reserve grand champion. Do they know ahead of time that it’s a really good livestock specimen? Brady said, “You can kind of tell, but it all comes down to one person’s opinion.” Animal shows and 4-H is a family activity with their parents Matt and Andrea Littlefield and their siblings Andrew and Alison. “My mom had two sets of twins,” Ben said. “Going to animal shows — those are our vacations,” Ben said. Their dad works at Ad-

vanced Farm Supply and their mom is a Sturgis Middle School seventhgrade teacher. At school, the boys both mentioned woodshop and science as a favorite class. Ben said he also likes history while Brady likes math. They both agree on a favorite teacher — “Mr. Wheeler.” Wally Wheeler is their woodshop teacher who doesn’t give himself credit for being a favorite teacher. “I think they like working with their hands and seeing the end results. It’s not a grade, it’s a product,” Wheeler said. “They are great kids. I wish I had a whole class of them.” While they’re only in eighth grade, both have thought about the future. Ben sees himself work-

ing “in something to do with agriculture. Something to do with outdoor stuff,” he said. Brady agrees. It goes along with his favorite free time activity to “Go back to the woods or work with my animals,” he said. While both boys love to show animals, it always comes to an end — the sale. For Brady, selling the animals is the hardest part. Ben said the money they earn first goes to pay back the feed bill — “that’s expensive” he said. And all the rest goes into their college funds. Family support and direction is a common part of their life and Brady would advise other students to “get good grades in school and trust your parents.”

COLON JUNIOR/SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL

Ronny Moyer since he was 8 years old. He plays fullback and linebacker and is also a weightlifter. Moyer said he would like to continue playing football after he graduates from Colon. He also participates in baseball and track. Moyer’s favorite subjects in school are science and math. “I’m thinking of pursuing a medical career,” he said. In addition to sports, Moyer is a talented artist. He likes to draw nature scenes. This summer he hopes to find a job working for a farmer. “I can help bale hay or pick rocks,” he said. “I just like doing things outdoors.”

By Terry Katz katz@sturgisjournal.com

Hunting runs in the Moyer family and Ronny Moyer, 15, feels proud to follow in his dad’s footsteps as an avid hunter. Moyer, a ninth grader at Colon High School, has bagged 20 deer since age 10. The Moyers live on M-86 in Matteson Township, a short distance from the St. Joseph County line. His parents are Luke and Amy Moyer. Ronny has two brothers, Ryan, 20, and Chase, 18, a senior at Colon High School. He said his biggest buck was a seven point. He is also a local coyote hunter. So far, he has

tracked and killed one coyote. The Moyers do a lot of deer hunting in northern St. Joseph County. Moyer said he likes to cook deer meat. Deer

steaks are his favorite, but he knows how to make deer jerky. In addition to hunting, Moyer is a Colon Magi football player. He has been playing football

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www.sturgisjournal.com Saturday & Sunday, May 5-6, 2012

3

CONSTANTINE HIGH SCHOOL

Tommy Reed By Kathy Jessup Journal correspondent

Over the summer and into the fall, Constantine High School junior Tommy Reed works hard developing his quarterback skills. Spring means batting cages and snagging groundballs to prepare for the Falcons’ baseball season. But for the past three years, the weeks before Halloween are focused on collecting games, books, stuffed animals and handheld video games and music players for kids who will be celebrating Christmas in a hospital bed. Reed says his role contributing to a project called Crayons For Kids is his way of “giving back” for the empathy he experienced three years ago when a serious blood infection had him in Bronson Methodist Hospital for 28 days. “I was in intensive care for 14 days, on a ventilator and they saved my life,” Reed recalls. “My doctor came in and asked me what I would like to pass

the time while I had to be in bed and couldn’t do anything. I got gifts, candy and games and a little iPod from this program his kids started.” Reed’s doctor, Bronson

pediatric surgeon Dr. Michael Leinwand, was well acquainted with the process that provided the items the then-8th grader received. Dr. Leinwand’s children—then ages 5 and

6 — had organized Crayons For Kids in 2001 when they made rounds with their father on a pediatric floor, observing young patients’ stress and long hours with perhaps only a TV to keep them occupied on something other than their illnesses. The kindness made such an impression on Reed that he decided helping the effort would be a way for him to show his appreciation and pay it forward. He learned the hospital’s toy closet gets lean each year around Halloween, just before a major push begins to collect Christmas gifts. Reed had found his niche. For the past three years, the affable student athlete and his family have collected all sorts of toys and games, blankets and gift cards, delivering them to the children’s unit around Halloween. Some of the donations eventually become presents for patients on the floor, while others are added to the hospital’s toy collection

NOTTAWA COMMUNITY SCHOOL

that’s used by children during recovery. Reed said his effort started small, with donations coming mostly from family members and his mother’s co-workers. Since then, the collections have multiplied and this year Constantine High School students joined in, donating items beginning when classes started in September. By Halloween, Reed and his parents, Tim and Jan Reed, delivered five, huge containers of items to Bronson. Most donations were toys, but they also included an assortment of gift cards that can help outof-town parents with the costs of gasoline and food while their children are hospitalized in Kalamazoo. Reed, 17, still has the iPod he received on his bedroom dresser. But it’s not so much to remind him of his own serious illness. “When I could finally get out of bed and out on the floor, I remember this one kid who had a bald

head; he probably had cancer,” Reed says. “I felt bad for him. I thought I had gone through a lot, but there were kids in this world worse off than me.” The Constantine junior said he’s never been one to ask “why me?” when life hands him a challenge. That was tested again recently during football season when Reed, the team’s quarterback and a defensive back, broke his leg making a tackle. Reed’s dream is to become an orthopedic surgeon. But in the meantime his contribution to medicine will be helping young patients have something to smile about. “If maybe someone doesn’t make it out of the pediatric unit, I can at least hope I could give them one thing for them to enjoy their last days on Earth,” he said. “I don’t have to see the kid’s face. I have the satisfaction of knowing we’re helping a good cause.” For more information on Crayons For Kids, visit the nonprofit’s website at crayons4kids.org.

BRONSON HIGH SCHOOL

Hobie Ramsey By Rosalie Currier currier@sturgisjournal.com

Madisyn Chapman & McKenzie Blair By Terry Katz katz@sturgisjournal.com

Two Nottawa Community School sixth graders are taking cheerleading to new heights. Madisyn Chapman, 12, and McKenzie Blair, 12, are cousins. Both are members of the Sturgis Young Champions of Sturgis and both have taken their cheers all the way to Las Vegas. Once they graduate from Nottawa Community School, they hope to be cheerleaders at Centreville High School. Chapman is the daughter of David and Heather Chapman. She has an older brother, Michael. Blair is the granddaughter of Lorelei Blair. She has two brothers, Mason,

8, and Evan, 5. Last summer, when they went to national competition in Las Vegas, they brought home a fourthplace trophy in their division. It took a lot of competitions to qualify for the national event. First they went to regionals, which they won in Grand Rapids. Then they went to state competition in Grand Rapids where they qualified for the nationals. Both girls say it takes a lot of work to be a good cheerleader. “We do flips, stretch outs, and practice gymnastics,” said Chapman. “You have to believe in yourself and trust your group.” Chapman and Blair are the flyers who stand on

the cupped hands of their teammates. This year, their team will compete May 12 in Grand Rapids. If they win the regionals, they will go on to the state and possibly the nationals again. Chapman and Blair say they have set goals for themselves to improve their cheerleading skills. Blair said she wants to perfect her back tuck skills. Chapman said she wishes she could be a cheerleader for the rest of her life, or at least until she gets old. Her favorite subject is science and she has a project for the upcoming science fair. “I’m studying soil to see what type of soil holds the most water,’ she said.

Hobie Ramsey, a 16year-old Bronson sophomore, has an easy-going personality that doesn’t show what a tough school year he’s had. “On Halloween, my best friend was in an accident,” Hobie said. That was Byron Smith, who with his bother, Manny, were killed in a car accident that rocked the community. Hobie and Byron spent a lot of time together. “I’d always hang out there,” with both brothers, he said And while there is a gaping hole in his life, Hobie can see a positive result. “Ever since Byron passed away, our grade has gotten a lot closer, so I’ve made some good friends through it,” he said. The teachers and administrators at school have also been supportive, Hobie said. “I like the teachers here. You can always go and talk to them,” he said. Lisa Franks, who teaches physics and chemistry, is one of his favorites. And physics is one of his favorite classes along with math and anything in science. Franks said, “Hobie is a very bright young man with a promising future.” That’s good as he’s interested in the medical profession. “My mom and sister are in the health field and really like it,” Hobie said.

CENTREVILLE HIGH SCHOOL

Sarah Cline By Terry Katz katz@sturgisjournal.com

Thirteen-year-old Sarah Cline, a seventh grader at Centreville High School, is a pro at playing the French horn. Sarah, daughter of Mike and Diane Cline, has been taking French horn lessons since fifth grade. She is a member of the Junior High Band and has participated in a band festival. Her peers find it interesting that she stayed all this time with the first instrument she ever wanted to play, the French horn. The music she plays is mostly classical, but she also likes jazz. “You have to stay focused and follow through if you

want to play an instrument,” said Cline. “I like learning new music.” She is the only Centreville student who plays the French horn. When she reaches high school, she is thinking of switching to trombone lessons so she can participate in the marching band. Cline has other interesting talents and abilities. She likes to knit. So far she made two scarves. She makes necklaces out of paper beads. She takes art classes at the Carnegie Center in Three Rivers. Cline was a star participant in the Quiz Bowl at the St. Joseph County ISD where she answered random questions

about history, math, science and English. Her team won first place. She likes sports, especially basketball and volleyball. Her goal is to some day be a psychologist. At home, she enjoys the company of her pets, a dog and a parakeet. Sparky is a mixed lab, beagle and spaniel. Two years ago, Cline won Dewey, the parakeet, in a library raffle. They have since become good friends and Dewey loves to chatter when she is home from school. Cline also has time for church activities. She attends Centreville United Methodist Church with her parents. She also has an older brother, Keith.

So at this point it’s a toss up, between being a medical doctor or a physical therapist. “Physical therapy would be like the same thing every day,” he said. “I like helping people.” Franks added that Hobie is also motivated and a young man of integrity, with good character. And “Hobie always makes everyone smile,” Franks said Not only does he expect to enjoy the occupation his mom and sister have chosen, Hobie likes being with his family. Hobie parents are Jim and Dawn Ramsey and he has three sisters and a

brother. Together they head to the tennis courts to play as a family. “I really like tennis,” Hobie said. That’s one of his sports, and he plays both basketball and tennis in school. “I was going to play baseball, but I got a job at Dairy Queen,” Hobie said. So he’s chosen the two sports because there is only so much time and academics are important to him. Hobie’s advice to younger students is, “Make sure you do your school work,” he said. “Put everything else behind it, especially your freshman year.”


4

Saturday & Sunday, May 5-6, 2012

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THREE RIVERS MIDDLE SCHOOL

WHITE PIGEON MIDDLE SCHOOL

Tyler Slaton

Kayleigh Grimm By Kathy Jessup Journal correspondent

By Jef Rietsma Journal correspondent

If it has an engine or a motor, the odds are good Tyler Slaton can fix it. There’s little doubt where the 14-year-old Three Rivers Middle School student hopes to find himself in about 10 years. “Ideally?” he said, pondering his career opportunities. “Fixing tractors at Fillmore (Equipment Inc.).” Ever since he struggled to get his grandmother’s lawn mower started a few years ago, Tyler has taken on a vested interest in figuring out why things don’t work – and doing everything he can to correct the problem. So far, his success rate is close to 100 percent. Tyler still recalls that day he tried in vain to start his grandma’s mower. He took apart the motor, examined all the internal pieces and tinkered with it for days. With some help from his Uncle Wilbur, Grandpa Mains and father, Brad Slaton, the mower eventually got started. By that point, a seed had been planted in Tyler’s mind. “From that point on,

I’ve always been curious about motors, engines, just anything that’s gaspowered that doesn’t work, and I’ll do everything I can to fix it,” he said. Tyler and his dad are currently working on a 1994 Ford Ranger, a vehicle that sat idle for about 10 years before Brad Slaton popped the hood and began a restoration project that continues to this day. In time, he said he hopes the vehicle will become Tyler’s when the young man is old enough to drive. An alumnus of Hoppin Elementary in Three Rivers, Tyler is also spending his time tinkering with a 1967 Snapper riding mower. He’s rebuilt the motor and is close to having it ready to run. Brad Slaton said his late father spent hours upon hours working with him as a young boy, rebuilding engines, finetuning motors and other work by hand to make things that didn’t work function once again. “I’ve been working with Tyler a few years now and he’s doing well for himself … he doesn’t usually need any help and he gets things start-

ed up again,” Brad Slaton said. “It’ll be nice when he’s driving and when he’s on his own he won’t have to take the truck to the garage for repairs.” His mother, Michelle Slaton, said Tyler has a stubborn streak in him that gives him a neverquit work ethic. “He doesn’t give up … he’s determined to make it work and he won’t give up until he’s got it running,” she said. Tyler said he likes school but he looks forward to high school, when he can take CTE classes, where he’ll spend a portion of his days under the hood of a car or truck. Meanwhile, he’ll continue to use a concrete slab near the door to his family’s Lockport Township residence as his workshop. Though he didn’t barter for a grade, Tyler recently fixed a lawnmower belonging to one of his middle school teachers. Tyler said he is glad to be helpful. “I remember what it felt like watching grandma not being able to start her mower, so I want to fix things so people don’t get mad,” he said.

When Kayleigh Grimm says a goat ate her homework or that she’s danced in a cow suit to sell milk, people who know the White Pigeon seventh grader have no doubt. Once you’ve met the effervescent 13-year-old, you can believe she likes snakes and aspires to become a zookeeper, provided the job doesn’t require giving animals any shots. Her eyes sparkle as she talks about the goats, turkeys, chickens, ducks and rabbits she raises and shows at the St. Joseph County Grange Fair. But tears also well quickly when she talks about Silver, a goat who became Grimm’s four-legged best friend before the animal died a year ago. She misses the “smile” and “kiss” Silver would deliver after Grimm milked the goat, or the long, summer afternoons when the girl would fall asleep in a straw-covered stall, lying on the animal’s flank. From her youngest years living in an apartment to farm life today, Grimm says she’s happiest in her relationships with Niles and Frasier, her turkeys; Murphy, a big Rhode Island Red rooster; and a host of other feathered or hooved friends. The farm also has taught tough life lessons to the young teenager. Grimm learned what it was like to care for her dying Silver and grieve her loss. Saying goodbye to her market goat “Johnny Depp” after the fair livestock auction was made more difficult by her feeling that “he had the most character I’ve ever seen in a goat.” Turkeys, like some people, are high-strung, Grimm says. And they don’t like to bathe. “They’ll grab you with their feet or smack you with a wing and pull you in,” she explains from experience. “I’ve been smacked by a person and getting smacked by a turkey wing hurts worse.” Grimm says goat’s milk is more easily digested

than cow’s, something she learned in supplying the milk her special-needs brother drinks. She’s learned first-hand why people say goats will eat anything, pointing to one of her prized 4-H ribbons that was shortened a few inches by a nibbling animal whose antics brought it this close to becoming mutton. Grimm produced the mangled notebook paper when she returned to school after Fair Week with a “my-goat-ate-myhomework” excuse. Grimm said she had been sitting in her goat’s 4-H barn stall doing assignments when the animal began chomping on the paper. Grimm is a hero to another young 4-Her whose goat swallowed her first ribbon. “I got the goat and reached down its throat to get the ribbon. Someone had to save it,” shrugs the girl who’s also known as the first to don a “cow suit” to advertise milk sales during fair week. The White Pigeon seventh grader helps younger students share her appreciation for farm animals each year by setting up a

petting zoo at school where kindergarteners can get an up-close-and-personal look at some baby goats, some chicks, a rabbit, an adult chicken or two and some newborn ducks. A White Pigeon teacher first proposed the idea and the Grimm family has been supplying the animals for the event ever since. Do kindergarteners enjoy the experience? “All I know is a whole bunch of little kids swarm me,” Grimm laughs. If her love of farm animals comes from her mother, Julie, she says her artistic talent can be traced to her father, Chadd. She’s done pencil drawings for as long as she can remember and has entered oil paintings for 4-H judging. Grimm says challenge from her middle school art teacher, Corrine Myers, has affected more than her painting. “She always told me to keep pushing myself and at first it made me mad,” Grimm admits. “But I think she saw I could do something and she wanted me to get better. It taught me patience and that’s helped me showing my animals too.”

COLON JUNIOR/SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL

Julie Milliman By Terry Katz katz@sturgisjournal.com

Pets have a big impact in the life of 12-year-old Julie Milliman. Milliman, a seven grader at Colon Junior/Senior High School, has several pets at home, volunteers at an animal shelter in Kalamazoo, and loves to draw pictures of pets and wildlife. Julie is the daughter of Tyler Milliman of Colon and

Tracy Ladidie of Three Rivers. Julie said she wants to be an art teacher, just like her Colon art teacher, Shannon Vallier. “I got my art talent from my dad,” she said. “I like to draw with colored pencils and do water colors.” She drew a water color portrait of a wolf that received many compliments. Some of her art work has been on display in school.

“I like to draw cats,” she said. “I drew a picture of cat eyes that everyone liked.” In addition to art class in Colon, Milliman attends classes at the Kalamazoo Art Institute every fall and winter. When Julie spends weekends at her mother’s house in Three Rivers, she and her brother do a lot of activities in Kalamazoo. In the summer, Julie, her mom and brother volunteer at the SPCA of Southwest

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5

MENDON HIGH SCHOOL

Samantha Griffith By Jef Rietsma Journal correspondent

Sixteen-year-old Samantha Griffith is at an age where her friends are becoming less interested in raising animals and more focused on sports and other social options. Samantha, however, said there’s nothing more important to her than the three horses she helps oversee at her family’s Mendon Township residence. Her love for the trio of horses – two paints and one miniature – stems from a passion stoked by her mother, Tricia Griffith. “Mom had horses all the time when she was growing up and horses have always been a part of my life,” the Mendon High School sophomore said. “Horses are a common interest we love and share, and it keeps us close.” Samantha joined the Town and Country Riders 4-H club when she was 8 years old. She enjoys par-

ticipating in horse shows and is a one-person equestrian team, repre-

senting Mendon High School. Her competition as an

equestrian participant finds her working with members of a Vicksburg

High School squad, the closest school with an equestrian team. In addition, Vicksburg’s coach is Samantha’s 4-H leader. Proving that she knows as much about the equestrian as she does horses in general, Samantha won a district title in middle school and last year was third runner-up in regional competition. Samantha’s participation through 4-H takes her to events in Kalamazoo County as well as the St. Joseph County Horseman’s Park, just outside Centreville. Tricia Griffith, wife of Constantine football coach Shawn Griffith, said she’s happy to see her daughter involved in an activity that involves horses. She said caring for horses or animals in general tends to make people compassionate toward all living things. “She’s proven to be a very responsible young lady, doing all the night chores and even more recently doing morning

LAKELAND MIDDLE SCHOOL

chores, too,” she said. “Rain, sunshine, holidays, it doesn’t matter, the animals need to be cared for and Sam does a nice job of it.” Tricia said Samantha’s two sisters have little interest in horses. As a lifelong horse owner, Tricia said she was thrilled at least one of three children took an interest in her passion, too. In addition to the horses, the family has dogs, chickens, rabbits, goats and a guinea pig. Samantha said she hopes to someday parlay her love for horses with her equestrian experience. “I’d like to be on a college equestrian team,” she said, noting the Michigan Interscholastic Horse Association, of which she is a member, offers partial college scholarships. “I’d like to go to Western Michigan.” Samantha also shows dogs through her 4-H club, but she much prefers the horses. Her favorite is the miniature horse.

CENTREVILLE HIGH SCHOOL

Cassandra Santana By Wanda Yoder Journal Correspondent

Cassandra Santana, 14, an eighth grader at Lakeland Middle School in LaGrange, Ind., and the daughter of Irma Caballero of LaGrange and Juan Santana of Fort Wayne, sees her artwork as a hobby. But her art teacher, Amy Whited, sees so much more in Cassandra’s renderings. According to Whited, Cassandra is a stand out in her art class. “Ms. Whited is always pointing out my work to other students as an example and places them on display. I began saving my work since she began doing that,” Cassandra said. Although she did not compete in the school’s recent art fair, she received a certificate for exceptional artwork. Her latest classwork included a scratch board of a bird, which has been on display at the school. And although Cassandra is good at realism she prefers cartoon drawings, mostly those that center around candy. “Candy of all kinds. I like candy,” Cassandra confessed with a smile. Candy wrapper “doodles” is what she calls them. Her favorite color is yellow, which comes out in a number of her doodles. “The colorful candy wrappers are what catches my attention. This is something that I began at the age of 9. It is something that I am drawn to. When you create something for class or contest you must ‘make it into a picture.’ It is not your vision anymore. I want to draw what I like,” she said and explained that that was the main reason for not competing in the school’s contest. She is not comfortable with sharing her handicraft with others

Kali Notestine By Terry Katz katz@sturgisjournal.com

and would like to keep her “doodles” as a hobby. Cassandra is on the honor roll at Lakeland Middle School and is taking advanced math class, which she confided also plays a big part in art graphics. She also explained that she creates clay models before drawing them. Her future plans include graduating from Lakeland High School with an academic honors diploma. She is undecided on a career course but is working on getting

college grants and scholarships. “I am of course proud of her,“ her mother Irma said and admitted that she is not artistically inclined, but is more interested in music. “Cassandra follows her father’s footsteps, as he also enjoys drawing. Her sister Emilce, a 2011 LHS graduate, also has artistic interests.” Cassandra also has two brothers at home, Juan, a LHS senior classman, and (Juan) Alonso, age 6, attends Parkside Elementary.

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Kali Notestine is becoming a versatile musician at Centreville High School. Kali, 13, daughter of Jeff and Debbie Notestine, plays the flute and the piano. “I am dedicated to music,” she said. “I want to be a piano instructor. While she has played the flute since fifth grade, she has four years experience playing the piano. “We have a piano at home and I take lessons from Jeff Keefer in Three Rivers,” she said. Her favorite subjects in school are English and histo-

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Saturday & Sunday, May 5-6, 2012

www.sturgisjournal.com CONSTANTINE MIDDLE SCHOOL

Nora Corbiel By Kathy Jessup Journal correspondent

Thirteen-year-old Nora Corbiel has learned some rich lessons from helping to feed the poor at the Constantine Community Soup Kitchen. “You can’t classify people if you don’t really know them,” says the curly-haired Constantine Middle School seventh grader. “The people who come to the soup kitchen for a meal are just normal people. They’re no different.” Corbiel was recruited to be an extra pair of hands at Constantine’s free, weekly meal center nearly a year ago by her grandmother, Chelly Hoover, who also volunteers for the community service. “They were running low on help and my grandma asked me if I

would come along one day,” Corbiel recalls. “The first time I went I didn’t know what to expect and it made me really sad, it made my heart break, to see people coming there who were hungry.” But the heartbreak has evolved into friendships and a sense of giving that the Constantine teenager experiences as she serves the prepared food and delivers drinks. “The best part is the feeling I get after everyone’s gone,” Corbiel says. “I know I just helped one more person have a meal so they didn’t have to go to bed hungry.” The warm-hearted seventh grader says an average 50 people, including children and senior citizens, come most Mondays to have meals that range from turkey and mashed potatoes to soups to

BRONSON

Cyrus Colyer Mohamadi By Rosalie Currier currier@sturgisjournal.com

If there is something Cyrus Colyer Mohamadi likes it’s a mental challenge. Things like books on subjects that interest him, art, music, and “don’t get me started on science and math,” Cyrus said. The things he’s not so impressed with include TV, video games and sports. “I’m not athletic,” Cyrus said, “so sports have never really been my forte.” But since he paints, draws, plays the piano, guitar, banjo, harmonic and mandoline, as well as keeps a rigorous home school schedule, he would hardly have time for other things. Although he lives in the Bronson school district, Cyrus and his sister Soraya are educated in classroom at their mother’s medical practice in Coldwater. Their mother, Dr. Marjan Mohamadi, specializes in internal medicine and has every expectation that the children will follow in her footsteps. “We were born and raised medical,” Cyrus said. He’s considering either, cometic surgery or orthodontistry but with so many interests he could go in nearly any direction. Their father Chris Colyer, teaches Cyrus and his sister skills with archery, guns and fishing and the family has cows, horses and several dogs. Cyrus said his room is littered with books, his bow, a wood carving he’s working on and “Lego creations all over the place.” Art work done by the children and their mother line the walls and there are plenty of musical instruments waiting to be used. “My parents had a piano before my sister and I were ever born,” Cyrus said. Several years ago he started taking lessons. “I can’t walk by the piano without setting down to play something,” he said. Their art work began to accumulate after hiring Carl Mosher, an art teacher from Kendallville, Ind., to come to their home on Tuesday afternoon for lessons. “I love it when a light goes off in the students eyes when they realize, ‘I can do this,’” Mosher said. When did that light shine from Cyrus’ eyes? “About 45 minutes into the first lesson,” Mosher said. Teaching his students to observe everything around them is a passion for Mosher. “When he first started teaching us, all the colors and all the details started popping out,” Cyrus said. “I felt like I was going crazy.” He has other moments of being

overwhelmed by the vast diversity around him, especially when considering math and science. Cyrus said he’s been fascinated by science since he was 8 years old — especially the universe, the galaxy and solar system. “What if our solar system is just one cell in a more complex organism?” he said. “There are too many things to ponder. If you think about it too much it feels like your head will explode.” So after considering scientific or mathematical theories most adults don’t understand he takes a break with books. Cyrus’ love for reading lead him to the Bronson District Library when he was very young. After reading everything they had to offer on his areas of interest, Lynnell Yesh, the librarian began interlibrary loans for Cyrus. Recently he joined the Bronson

Friends of the Library and learned of the need for a media center, so Cyrus donated one of his paintings to be auctioned. It brought $300. The Dearth Foundation of Coldwater, had created a matching fund, so his efforts were doubled giving the library a $600 donation. Currently he’s working on a painting of the library, which is in “what we call the ugly stage,” Cyrus said. All he can see is the details that need to be added. And when it’s finished, he will donate it to the library. “It’s the way I wanted to help the library,” Cyrus said. Next year, Cyrus could be taking classes from Trine University in Angola, Ind., if his parents will let him — his scores won’t keep him out. But Cyrus’ father isn’t sure he’s quite ready for the pressure of college, given the pressure he already puts himself under. But when he is ready, Cyrus will likely be a professor’s dream come true. “Math and science aren’t just subjects,” Cyrus said. “They are endless possibilities. It’s amazing to find something that doesn’t have an end and apply that anywhere you can in everyday things.”

cheeseburgers. Some seem to come more for the friendly conversation and sense of community. But most depend on the hot meal to satisfy hunger and help stretch their food budgets, Corbiel explains. One family with young children that comes each Monday night has captured a special place in the young volunteer’s heart. “The man and his wife come with their three kids who are probably elementary-school aged. Every time they will come and tell everyone thank you for the meal. You know they really appreciate it.” Nothing goes to waste at the soup kitchen, Corbiel says. Some participants eat part of their Monday night meal, then wrap up the remainder for their lunch or dinner on Tuesday. Seconds are available if servings re-

main and any leftovers are offered to participants to take home. The community ministry headquartered at the Constantine United Methodist Church depends upon donations and volunteers to operate. Corbiel says occasionally a participant will “donate a couple of dollars,” but for most, a word or nod of appreciation is their offering. The young volunteer plans to continue her volunteer service, going after school one Monday a month to the nearby church where she grabs and apron and prepares to serve the day’s entrée. Corbiel, the daughter of Rebecca and Larry Corbiel, of Constantine, hopes to incorporate her passion for service into a future career as a special education teacher.

WHITE PIGEON HIGH SCHOOL

Christian Ryall-Shoup By Kathy Jessup Journal correspondent

Christian Ryall-Shoup is a teenage Renaissance man who puts a mean hook on a bowling ball. You know you’re a serious bowler at age 15 when you own three bowling balls that haven’t been handed down to you. And Ryall-Shoup spends hours perfecting his game at a Sturgis alley in preparation for local leagues, state competitions and even an upcoming national tournament in Indianapolis. But his interests don’t end there. Ryall-Shoup applies his same concentration to his newfound love of golf. And his dream college experience would be finding a school with a competitive bowling team that offers a degree in culinary arts. He claims title to a unique grilling meat rub that features nutmeg. Beyond all that, the son of Margie King and Robert Ryall, is a regular teenager who likes skateboarding, riding a BMX and keeping a close eye on his 10-yearold sister’s own rising bowling average. “Bowling is really important to me as a sport and a hobby,” Ryall-Shoup explains. “I kind of get mad if I don’t do good. Right now I can try to win (college) scholarship money in tournaments and I’d like to bowl on a college team. I’d really like to be a professional bowler someday.” Strikes and spares are in the young man’s family. “My grandma has been bowling a long time and my mom started when she was really little,” he says. “I’ve been bowling since I was four years old. I used a six-pound ball and just ran up there and tossed it on

the lane when I first started.” He began his high school league this season averaging 216 and has a coach. Bowling, like golf, is more than setting up a ball and sending it toward a pin. Ryall-Shoup ticks off the steps that are almost automatic to him now, like checking his grip, positioning his feet and determining the degree of torque he will apply as he launches the ball. But a serious bowler, like an astute golfer, “reads” the playing field. “There are different oil patterns on bowling lanes and that affects how much a ball hooks,” Ryall-Shoup says. Good technique for him

rarely means a straight shot. His strategy typically is to launch the ball to one side of the lane with wrist action that will cause the spinning orb to curve back as it reaches a pivotal spot among the pins known as the pocket. Once he’s assessed the lane’s oil pattern, Ryall-Shoup chooses the bowling bowl he believes will perform the best. For now, you’ll likely to find the White Pigeon High School freshman at a bowling alley in his off hours, but not for leagues. It’s practice, practice, practice to prepare for tournaments. There will be plenty of time this summer for perfecting the nutmeg-infused barbeque rub.

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www.sturgisjournal.com Saturday & Sunday, May 5-6, 2012 BURR OAK COMMUNITY SCHOOLS

NOTTAWA COMMUNITY SCHOOL

Jourdan Currier

Cayla Ferrier

By Rosalie Currier

By Terry Katz

currier@sturgisjournal.com

katz@sturgisjournal.com

Jourdan Currier, a 14year-old Burr Oak eighth grader likes her school. “When we learn, it’s a lot of hands-on,” Jourdan said. “I like how small our classes are. It’s easier to get along and learn together.” Science is one of her favorite subjects and the science fair one of her favorite activities. A good fit as Jourdan would really like to go into a medical profession — that or a law enforcement related field such as crime scene investigations. “When I watch NCIS I picture myself doing it,” Jourdan said. What will it take, in the next four years of school, to get into such a fields? “Focusing on math, science and history — taking classes that goes towards it,” Jourdan said. As soon as she old enough, Jourdan is looking foward to going to the Branch Area Careers Center in Coldwater to take classes in the area of her interest. One of Jourdan’s motivations for working hard and achieving success comes from a challenge she faces. When Jourdan was in third grade she was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. Knowing it’s a costly disease, she’s planning for a job that offers a good insurance plan. It’s not

Cayla Ferrier, 12, of Nottawa Community School, has loved dancing since she was two years old. A sixth grader, she is the daughter of Phillip and Jodi Ferrier. First she learned ballet. Now she does jazz/tap. Ferrier and her cousin, Kali Tyler, 12, have been taking dance and tumbling lessons together in Vicksburg for years. They have a class every Thursday. There are 15 students in her class. Her next recital is May 5. Each recital has a theme and that means finding costumes. Dressing up with a new hat, leggins and shirt is always exciting, she said. Ferrier said she wants to continue her dance lessons after she leaves Nottawa School in eighth grade. She plans to attend Centreville High School. “It takes physical skills to be a dancer,” she said. “You’ve got to be on the beat. You

something most eighth graders need to plan for, but Jourdan doesn’t seem to resent the constant blood testing and necessary insulin shots. “I’m getting used to it. It makes me want to help others in the same situation,” Jourdan said. As science hold her interest, it shouldn’t be a surprise who her favorite teacher is. “That would be Ms. Schipper, the science teacher,” Jourdan said. Jan Schipper at Burr Oak middle school said, “Jourdan is a wonderful student to have in class. She’s a hard worker and very conscientious of her work. She’s helpful, dependable and an all around good kid.”

And in her free time when she’s not busy with basketball and volleyball Jourdan likes hanging out with her best friend, Megan. “I can tell her anything,” Jourdan said. “She’s there for me when I need her. I’m there for her when she needs me.” Jourdan’s parents Bill Currier of Burr Oak and Jennifer Gage of Marcellus are divorced so she’s not in contact with her six siblings as much as in the past. In fact, Jourdan said the relationship with her mom is rocky but she has advice to peers going through difficult times. “It’s tough but don’t be afraid to talk about it. Don’t keep it bottled up,” Jourdan said.

7

have to be flexible and physically able to do the moves. It also takes team work.” Science and social studies are Ferrier’s favorite subjects.

my favorite book,’” she said. She likes to spend the summer with her cousin at her aunt’s farm. Ferrier has a brother,

Her dream is to become a fashion designer. She also did well in the recent Clue Me In competition at the St. Joseph County ISD. She enjoys reading historical fiction and biographies. “Number the Stars” is

Colt, 8, who attends third grade in Nottawa. A family project in recent days has been taking care of four ducklings and a box of little chicks. Ferrier said everyone in the family has a hand in taking care of the brood.

LAKELAND MIDDLE SCHOOL

Victoria Miramonti ria’s mother, said she was honored to have a daughter such as Victoria. “She is very respectful of others. I feel that she helps others--more because of what I went through--my illness, hospital, and long recovery. She went through it with me.” Victoria is well-rounded. Besides entering many other 4-H categories, she has performed drama (at the LaGrange Civic Theater, Howe) and competed in art, as well as band and music along with numerous Laker athletics.

By Wanda Yoder Journal Correspondent

Victoria Miramonti, 14, an eighth grader at Lakeland Middle School in LaGrange, Ind., and the daughter of Christine Miramonti of Wall Lake, near Orland, and Charles Miramonti of Brighton, is a girl with a mission. Caring for others, people and animals, is her strength. At school, she excels in academics and is a standout in the school’s Service Learning Class, which is comprised of the top 10 percent of the student body. Service Learning affords her the opportunity to assist teachers and other students. She also serves as a student council representative, involves herself in the school’s anti-bullying group, and is on the National Junior Honor Society. Victoria also actively participates in her church, providing music and involving herself in mission orientated activities. But, not only does Victoria have a heart for people but has stretched her

Her science fair projects have taken to Regional Science Fair competitions. “As she gets older, she will have to decide (her career/life choices). In the meantime, we will make sure she studies,” her mother Chris stressed. Her goal for the future includes graduating from Lakeland High School with a Core-40 Academic diploma. Then it’s on to Purdue University for an equine therapist degree, following up with a degree in veterinary science for larger animals.

Serving You For 36 Years. caring spirit to include animals. She has taken that a step farther and has shown rescue animals in the LaGrange County 4-H Fair. Victoria not only shows for herself but also enjoys showing animals for other 4-Hers. Victoria has a number of championship ribbons for her efforts. Last year in 4-H, she entered Valentino, a rescued quar-

ter horse, who took first place. Victoria rides English and Western. She won Junior Showman, with Valentino, and placed third in Senior Showmanship. She won the All- Around Small Animal Showman three years in a row. This year, Penelope, a short-hair stripped tabby, another rescue animal will be in the 4-H Cat

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8

Saturday & Sunday, May 5-6, 2012

www.sturgisjournal.com MENDON MIDDLE SCHOOL

THREE RIVERS MIDDLE SCHOOL

Madison Haynes By Jef Rietsma Journal correspondent

Kaitlyn Sutton By Jef Rietsma Journal correspondent

Three Rivers Middle School has a budding author who appears destined for big things. Kaitlyn Sutton, after all, has ambitious goals. “After college, I hope to get some books published and go on to become a well-known author,” the 14-year-old, eighth-grade student said. “I love to write and it would be nice if I could make a career out of it.” From a young age, Kaitlyn has dabbled in writing. Starting with poems and short stories, Kaitlyn has gone on to maintain a diary and a collection of fantasy and other stories that continue to be works in progress. Her English and writing teacher, Angela Zantjer, said Kaitlyn has great talent and shows promise. “Kaitlyn is an inspiring writer,” Zantjer said. “She has a lot of written material she’s put them together to make an online book of poetry.” Though she could be considered biased, Kaitlyn’s mother, Christen, had plenty of praise for

her daughter’s work. She said Kaitlyn channels her feelings and emotions into writing, which make her poems and short stories strong. “Kaitlyn does have talent and she has a strong imagination,” she said. “It’s a pretty amazing gift … I’ve watched her writing talent evolve over time and it’s been fun to see that grow and mature.” Christen said she remembers having a similar passion for writing as a student in school. Kaitlyn’s intensity for writing, however, is greater than what she remembers of herself. Kaitlyn said she keeps notebooks and online blogs for all kinds of genres. Which she chooses to work on any given day depends on her mood. Some days, she said, she’s inspired to write a song. On other occasions, she prefers to let her feelings and emotions flow in her diary. At any given time, Kaitlyn has more than one short story or poem remain as a work in progress. Her favorite online site is called Wattpad, a fo-

rum for sharing and critiquing short stories and poetry. “I like getting feedback on my work, and the criticism is good because people make comments to help make you a better writer,” she said. “I try to be honest with other people’s work because I would want people to tell me honestly what they think about my work.” As a student at Norton Elementary, Kaitlyn received a Young Author’s award. She has also been acknowledged for her work on Wattpad. Kaitlyn said she enjoys sharing her work with her friends, mom and teacher. She said her writing features many adjectives, similes and metaphors. “And I like to go through my thesaurus and use bigger words so that my writing doesn’t look like it was done by a kid,” Kaitlyn said. “I always like to learn new words.” It’s not unusual to find Kaitlyn keep a notepad handy. She said she is always looking for something, whether it’s a person or something in nature, to serve as inspiration for her writing.

Madison Haynes was still in elementary school when she fired her first arrow with a compound bow. With encouragement from her father, Todd, the Mendon Middle School eighth-grade student continued the hobby. Today, Madison is a twotime champion for her age group at the St. Joseph County Conservation Club’s annual bow shoot. “I have three daughters, no sons, and Madison is the only one of the three to show an interest in the outdoors,” Todd Haynes said. “I came back to get the truck after I got a deer one time, and she went out in the field with me and she was there when I cut it open … it didn’t bother her.” As Madison’s apparent interest in the outdoors grew, her dad got her interested in using a bow. At 10, Madison joined the countywide 4-H Straight Shooters club, a move that saw her interest – and expertise – in archery increase. Now 14, Madison bow hunts with her dad. In addition, she remains heavily involved in the events at the Conservation Club. She smiled at the memory of herself as a little girl, watching her dad shoot bow and arrow at bales of hay in the family’s yard. “He practiced a lot and I’d watch and ask him about shooting,” she said. When Todd decided to pick up a part-time job for some extra income, he landed a position at Gander Mountain, a store that sells equipment and supplies catering to out-

door enthusiasts. While at Gander Mountain, he became the resident bow authority. Madison eventually went bow hunting with her dad and still recalls her first attempt at a deer. “I was nervous and, of course, I missed,” she said. “It was a pretty clear shot, I was just too nervous.” Meanwhile, Madison’s persistent shooting at the Sportsman’s Club started paying dividends. She said the weekly shootings with fellow 4-H members typically start as a friendly rivalry but quickly turn competitive. Each competition features 10 rounds, with each participant shooting six arrows per round. Scores are calculated on a point system starting with 10 points for a bull’s eye and fewer points the further away from the center mark. Her father said archery is a good sport because it doesn’t favor a single gender and it doesn’t require participants to be super athletic.

Madison said despite shooting thousands of rounds over the years, she still feels sore in the upper arms after a day of an inordinate amount of shooting. Her most memorable moment came when she pulled a Robin Hood, a rare feat that occurs when an arrow pierces the end of an arrow already on the target. Madison kept the double arrow for posterity. “It’s a very rare occurrence but it shows consistent accuracy from one shot to the next, that’s why a Robin Hood is such a big deal,” her dad said. Madison said she knows archery is an Olympic sport and would love to someday shoot at such an elite level. Until then, she’ll hope to land a partial college scholarship offered through her 4-H chapter. “I like the competitiveness of shooting and I especially like shooting outdoors,” she said. “It’s a fun sport and it gives dad and me some time to spend together.”

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Sturgis Journal

Part 3 of 3

May 2012


2

Saturday & Sunday, May 26-27, 2012

www.sturgisjournal.com COLON HIGH SCHOOL

STURGIS HIGH SCHOOL

Kelsay Barker

By Rosalie Currier currier@sturgisjournal.com

Kelsay Barker, a 17 year-old Sturgis senior, is not afraid of a challenge. This fall she’ll be headed to Albion College for a pre-med degree, but Kelsay is ready for it. “Medicine combines rigorous academics and social interaction,” Kelsay said. Beyond rigorous academics, she is also very involved in the music program at the high school and in the community. Her teachers have noticed. “Kelsay is a student who is multi talented. She is gifted in both the arts and sciences,” said Emerson Green, advanced chemistry. At one time, she thought being a career musician was a possibility. But while living as an exchange student in Mexico her sophomore year, Kelsay didn’t practice her flute everyday and didn’t miss it. “I enjoy it,” Keslay said. “Music is a great hobby.” But that was the first sign that music wasn’t as high on the life goals list as science. Advanced placement biology and chemistry are some of Kelsay’s favorite subjects. Advanced placement calculus teacher, Craig Evans said, “Kelsay is smart, hard working, and very responsible.” That might be an understatement. Although one of the youngest in her class, when Kelsay left in December for the semester in Mexico, she was a half year ahead of her class. In Mexico, Kelsay was in a college for foreigners who wanted to learn Spanish. Her classes included Spanish language, Mexican culture and Mexican art history. “It was all in Spanish,” she said. At 15, Kelsay was the youngest in her international classes that included adult students from South Africa, Cana-

da, Japanese, Belgium, South Korea and another from America. “I learned how to function with older people,” she said. Kelsay has seen that her peers are sometime uncomfortable talking to adults. “I don’t have that problem,” she said. The experience also give Kelsay a cultural awareness. “I learned not to be judgemental,” she said. “They might do stuff that comes off as offensive to you, but it’s not meant to be.” And she learned that you might miss something unexpected, when away from home. “I really missed my bed,” Kelsay said. But she learned that being an hour away at college will hardly be a challenge compared to being gone for six months from her parents, Tom and Loren Corbin. When she got back to Sturgis for her junior year, Kelsay tested out of three classes and was right on par with her classmates. However, in college Kelsay expects to miss, “the relationship I have with the teachers. It will be odd to step into a situation and not know the instructors.” Abby Velie, the AP biology teacher is one of those instructors. One who Kelsey said inspires her. “Seeing people being passionate about what they do motivates me,” Kelsay said. It’s a relationship that encourages Velie as well, “As a teacher, the most inspiring part of Kelsay is that she does not devote herself to school work simply to receive her impressive grades or notoriety; her outstanding work ethic and drive comes from an intrinsic love of learning and a passion to gain understanding. It is traits like this that have made me grateful to have her in class,” Velie said.

Morgan Yoder By Terry Katz katz@sturgisjournal.com

When it comes to sports, 18-year-old Morgan Yoder’s sports expertise could fill a resume. Her athletic ability is impressive. Yoder, a senior at Colon High School, plays softball, basketball, sideline cheer, volleyball, track, cross country and AAU basketball. She is the daughter of Joe and Jodie Yoder of Leonidas and sister to Bradley, 16, a Colon High School junior.

But sports isn’t all that keeps her on the go. Yoder is on the yearbook staff, active in the Magic Spirit Club which makes posters for sports events, and was formerly in Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), an organization whose aim is to prevent accidents from students taking potentially destructive decisions. Yoder said in addition to her strong interest in sports she has been preparing herself for the future through the Branch Area Careers Center. Thanks to her two years

of taking classes in health sciences, she will have competed her clinicals when she graduates from Colon High School. “This is a big step in high school,” Yoder said. Yoder has been accepted by Siena Heights University in Adrian where she will continue her nursing studies. She also plans to play softball for the Siena Saints. Before reporting to Siena Aug. 1 for a month of camp, Yoder said she has a busy summer planned. “I plan to do detasseling,

umpire Little League softball, spend time with my family and take a vacation trip to Gettysburg with my grandparents,” she said. “My grandfather was a veteran. My grandparents got me interested in Civil War history. We are also going to visit Washington D.C.” Yoder said during her high school years she was active in 4-H. She used to show horses. Yoder said even though she won’t be that far away from home in Adrian, she’ll still miss her family and her boxer, lab and pit bull mix named Lily.

CENTREVILLE HIGH SCHOOL

Courtney Yeager By Terry Katz katz@sturgisjournal.com

Eighteen-year-old Courtney Yeager knows in her mind what she will be doing 10 years from now. The Centreville High School senior will be managing her own pig farm, either in southwest Michigan or Iowa. The sign out front will bear her name. Yeager loves spending time in the barn. “The barn is my comfort zone,” she said. “When I’m attending classes in the high school, I feel like I’m in prison.” Yeager made a decision on her life’s direction while taking agriculture science classes for two years in Centreville. “Since I was little I wanted to be a farmer,” she said. “I wasn’t born on a farm. We lived in Burr Oak and my dad wanted to be a farmer.” When the family moved closer to Centreville, they bought a small farm to raise livestock. Courtney joined the Rolling Clovers 4-H Club. She began showing chickens, goats, cows and swine in the St. Joseph County Grange Fair. Her fair experiences fueled her desire to be a farmer. This year, Courtney is president of the Rolling Clovers.

She said the ag science CTE program keeps her highly motivated to do her best. She also likes the greenhouse work and is developing a passion for growing plants. Through FFA she has gotten to know a lot of people who share the same interests. Courtney’s path to higher educa-

tion will begin this fall at Glen Oaks Community College. “First I plan to get my associate’s degree in general science,” she said. After that step is completed, she plans to transfer to Michigan State University where she will work on a veterinary technician certificate with a minor in hog genetics. It may sound complicated to work in hog genetics, but the jobs are out there, especially in Iowa, Yeager said. “I would like to stay in this area,” she said, “but I may have to go where the jobs are. Michigan is my home and I love it here. But I am wide open to job opportunities.” In the meantime, Yeager said she will enjoy time at home this summer with her family. Her younger sister, Charity, is interested the agriculture science CTE program at Centreville. Her parents, Kevin and Diana Yeager, have been a major influence on her success and positive attitude. “Dad always supported us in our livestock projects and mom is into 4-H,” she said. This summer, Yeager plans to take her hogs to six area shows. “I would like to be flexible in what I do,” she said. “I want to enjoy being a teenager, but I also want to get a job.”

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3

CONSTANTINE HIGH SCHOOL

Adam West By Kathy Jessup Journal correspondent

Seventeen-year-old Adam West is literally connected at the hip to a pager the way most teenagers consider their cell phone or iPod a natural appendage. The difference is, when West’s pager tones out it can be an automatic pass to hustle out of class and leave Constantine High School. The Constantine senior is a volunteer firefighterin-training, nearing completion of his fire academy training and waiting for his 18th birthday to become a full-fledged leather lung. But it’s not just the fireside of first responding that West is pursuing. He’s clocked nearly 400 hours of service as an explorer with the St. Joseph County Sheriff ’s Department, involved in everything from patrol ridealongs to working dispatch to working at the county jail. West will begin pursuing a bachelor’s degree in public safety this fall when he enrolls at Glen Oaks Community College, with

plans to transfer to Kalamazoo Valley Community College for its police academy. By the time West has his degree, he may be triple qualified as a police officer, certified firefighter and an emergency medical responder. The Constantine native traces his interest in public safety back to the smalltown parades he watched from the curb as a kid. “I liked to see the lights and hear the sirens and stuff,” he smiled. “I saw what they do for our community and I wanted to help.” West joined the Boy Scout Explorers program several years ago and is one of a dozen young men and women mentored by Deputies Peter VandenBrink and Mark Mellinger. He’s learned police protocols, radio communications lingo and how to interact with the public professionally. West says he’s gotten better at “spotting drug users and people under the influence” and experienced the adrenaline rush of a car chase or conducting a search to serve a felony warrant. And he’s viewed the

seamy side of life. “Drugs are a real problem. I do not want to touch that crap,” West declared. “It ruins families. I’ve seen it where it breaks apart marriages and kids have had to leave their families. It’s not worth it and its illegal.” West began his fire academy training in January, sponsored by the While Pigeon Township Fire Department. “I’m fascinated with it. I love what they do,” he said. “Actually, I wanted to be a firefighter first.” As an academy probie, West’s on-scene tasks are limited to things like hauling hose and keeping track as firefighters enter and exit a burn scene. An added perk for a high school senior is executing the “get out of school quickly” privilege when his department is toned out for a structure fire. “It’s happened three times so far when I’ve been in school. Once I was in band and the pager went off and at first I didn’t hear it because we were playing. Then when I heard it, I told the band director I needed to go

and I ran down to the office to sign out.” There’s also the flip side. “On my first fire, we were toned out at 9 at night and I got home about 2:30 in the morning,” he recalled. “I had to be at school by 7:50 that morning. Thankfully, there was a two-hour delay that day for fog.” West said he doesn’t focus much on being injured in the line of duty. “My mom gets a little freaked out,” he acknowledged. “When I go out to a fire, my mom stays up and waits for me.” West says he’s already had a lesson in the unpredictability of a fire scene. “I was in a fire scene after it was out, pulling down some ceiling to make sure there was nothing left that would restart it,” he explained. “I stepped in a hole and thought I might drop through the floor.” When his education is complete, West said he’d like to return to St. Joseph County in a police/fire role. “Some people say cops have a bad name. I’ve never seen that in my two

years in the Explorers,” West said. “I want kids to see we’re not bad people. I just like to help people and make the community a

better place. I don’t want people here to ever be afraid to walk out their front door or leave their car unlocked.”

MENDON HIGH SCHOOL

Austin McClish By Jef Rietsma Journal correspondent

Austin McClish’s destiny to become a farmer was evident from a young age. “When I was little my grandpa used to buy me toy tractors and I’d play with them for hours,” the 18-year-old Mendon High School senior said. “I still have a lot of them. As Austin started to outgrow the gifts from his grandpa, he quickly proved his ability to handle tractors wasn’t limited to toys, thanks to his late uncle, John Cupp. “I just grew up around farming and from the time I was old enough to help my Uncle John, I’ve always been doing stuff around a farm,” Austin said, estimating he’s been working on a farm in any given capacity for six years. His work outdoors continues today, as he has been employed by Dusty Cupp for almost a year. The farm is on Osgood Road, just north of Michigan Boulevard in Mendon Township. Austin said he keeps busy working on irrigation lines, burying pipes, picking up rocks, working a chisel plow and any other odd jobs Cupp needs done. Austin is hopeful he’ll be

given the chance to work on his own 30-acre property either this summer or next spring. Whether he’d grow seed corn or soybeans, it doesn’t matter to Austin. For now, he has proven to be a reliable and dedicated worker, as Cupp is managing hundreds of acres of seed corn and Austin is there to lend a hand. A man of few words, Austin said he is looking forward to finishing high school so he can start working full time for Cupp. Austin said he knows there’s a lot to learn, as there’s more to farming than tending crops. “You have to know a lot about the seeds, the soil, fertilizers, just a bunch of things,” he said. “Dusty’s taught me a lot and I hope to keep working for him as long as he’ll let me.” Austin didn’t hesitate when asked if he thought there would be any other job he might find more rewarding. He’s confident he could hold his own running a farm right now and knows he’ll have his time to do that. “I like being outdoors an awful lot and it’s good working here because there’s not a boss getting on you all the time,” he said. “My life is about being outside, self-employed and working in the fields.”

CENTREVILLE HIGH SCHOOL

Teeva Carpenter-Smith By Terry Katz katz@sturgisjournal.com

Not often does a student receive an associate’s degree from college before getting a high school diploma. That’s what happened to Centreville High School senior Teeva Carpenter-Smith who enrolled in the dual enrollment program. On May 4, Teeva graduated from Glen Oaks Community College with an associate’s degree in general studies. On May 25, Teeva receives her diploma at Centreville High School. Teeva said she wasn’t thinking of all the work when she set a goal to earn two diplomas at the same time. She spent summers and weekends either taking classes or doing homework. It took a lot of planning to fit in class time and homework time in Centreville and Glen Oaks. Sometimes schedules did collide, she said. To make her best effort, she wrote everything on a calendar. One thing was for certain, she said. She had no time to waste time. Teeva’s parents are Bob and

Deb Smith. This fall she plans to attend Central Michigan University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience. She would also like to study abroad. After earning her bachelor’s degree she will go for her master’s. Her goal is to earn her doctorate by age 23. In addition to studying, Teeva has enjoyed working volunteer jobs in her fields of interest. She was a volunteer greeter at Three Rivers Health and helped at Riverview Manor. As a community service project, she has volunteered at St. Joseph County Animal Control by walking dogs. Part of her job has been to evaluate dogs on their ability to be good pets. Teeva sees herself as very goal driven. She worked until midnights many times to get everything done. Deb Smith says she is amazed by her daughter’s determination. “I never saw anyone work that hard,” she said. Once Teeva achieves her college degrees, she plans to work in the field of geriatrics.


4

Saturday & Sunday, May 26-27, 2012

www.sturgisjournal.com WHITE PIGEON HIGH SCHOOL

Kirstin Smith By Kathy Jessup Journal correspondent

Her toenails are blue and her dark, shoulderlength hair has streaks of blonde. Kirstin Smith’s bedroom walls are limegreen-and-black checkerboards, blue, purple and one, painted white, is covered with her scrawled sketches. The White Pigeon High School senior lives the life of an 18-year-old artist with one encumbrance. She’s terrified of heights. That’s not a problem unless your latest commissioned work has you working near the ceiling of a vaulted school foyer. Staying after school for the aspiring graphic artist has meant hours on a maintenance lift, adding color and spirit to the walls of White Pigeon Junior/Senior High School. Smith has done eight murals in the school, on the football stadium scoreboard and the outdoor concession stand. The free-spirited artist said creating the huge Native American portraits that honor the school’s mascot White Pigeon Chiefs were comparatively easy. But the task of creating the huge block letters—WPHS—over the gymnasium entrance kicked her self-professed obsessive perfectionist tendencies into overdrive.

“The chief head took me a week and curvy letters are not a problem. But those block letters alone took me six months,” Smith said. “They were crazy. Even when I look at them now, there’s one line I really want to fix.” The exuberant teen enjoys infusing dramatic color into her paintings. Using the school’s white walls to color the complexion of the Indian chief gave Smith both artistic and ethnic pause. To compensate, Smith said another Native American mascot she painted on the side of the outdoor concession stand “has a really good tan.” Smith’s real artistic love is painting on large, specially prepared plywood. It’s a method Smith said she models after her commercial idol, Indianapolis artist Justin Vining. Like Vining, Smith splashes color in a cross of abstract and impressionistic images. Acrylics are her medium of choice. The plywood is covered with paper; Smith uses newspaper while Vining has incorporated pages of his law school notes. Then a layer of “modgepodge sealer” is applied, creating an unusual background and interesting textures. Vining’s work was so impressive to Smith that she invited the artist to White Pigeon for classroom demonstrations.

“I got to paint with him,” she mused. “It was awesome.” Smith, the daughter of Deb Smith,has received a scholarship to pursue art at Southwestern Michigan College this fall. From there, she hopes to enroll at Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, to become a graphic artist.

Still, her love of art in different mediums is unlikely to be contained to computer screens. The young woman who loves incorporating trees and cities in her paintings admits she’d like to own a train car where she could experiment with creating urban graffiti. “I just couldn’t do it with spray paint,” she said.

“Another new medium—paper art—also intrigues her. “There’s an app for it,” Smith explained. “People create things from paper that look like the real thing. I’ve seen a examples like a pencil and a pair of glasses.” Smith, who recalls “always loving to draw” as a child, is ready to create a

new canvas for her work. The white wall in her bedroom is covered with sketches she’s drawn there in a variety of mediums over many months. But her creativity doesn’t end because the space is filled. “I think it’s time for a fresh coat of paint on that wall. I just have to find something that will cover marker.”

an anomaly in her family history. Regardless of where the gift she was born with came from, Elisa has put her talent to good work. She remembers as an elementary student liking art class. She even joined 4-H when she was 10 in order to keep working on drawings and sketches through the summer to enter in the county fair. Elisa also does some sculpting, but her true calling is clearly with a paint brush. Art classes she has taken at the Carnegie Center have fostered her talent. She said looking at her earlier pieces of work help her recognize where and to what extent she has grown as an artist. She said visits to art museums, locally and in the Midwest, are inspiring. “I like to see what materials other artists are using, different techniques, and looking at other work to get me to think about what I do and how I do it,” Elisa said. A member of Three Rivers High School’s cross country and track teams,

Elisa said she still has her favorite pieces of art work – and there have been dozens through the years – including a pastel drawing she did as a 14-yearold. Regarding what she enjoys showcasing, Elisa said portraits are far and away her favorite. While many artists will say eyes are the hardest feature of a human face to draw, Elisa said she encounters her most trouble drawing noses. The half dozen pictures she has on display at the Carnegie Center, however, may show otherwise. Ribbons for her prizewinning works substantiate the quality of her work. With her high school graduation looming next week, Elisa said she’s still coming to terms with how quickly the past four years have gone by. Still, she’s excited about her start at the Indiana-based liberal arts college. A National Honors Society member for two years, Elisa has also spent the last two years in choir and been a part of the school’s annual musical.

THREE RIVERS HIGH SCHOOL

Elisa Yonge By Jef Rietsma Journal correspondent

She’s petite and soft spoken, but the strokes of a paintbrush make loud and bold statements about Elisa Yonge. The 19-year-old Three Rivers High School senior is headed to Grace College, in Indiana, where she hopes to earn a degree in art education. Her goal is to be a high school art teacher. Based on the quality of her work on display at the Carnegie Center for the Arts in downtown Three Rivers, Elisa is well on her way to a promising future. “I had a lot of one-onone classes through the years, and that helped,” she said. “And I have had great art teachers in school, from my days at Howardsville Christian to my high school career at Three Rivers.” Surprisingly, artistic talent isn’t prevalent in Elisa’s family roots. She said her mom plays the piano and a distant relative was known to have had a passion for art. She called her love for art and talent

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LAKELAND HIGH SCHOOL

Robin Purlee By Wanda Yoder Journal Correspondent

Robin Purlee, 18, a senior at Lakeland High School, is one of 10 LaGrange County teens bringing a powerful drama about teen dating violence to Lakeland, Prairie Heights and Westview high school juniors and seniors this spring. Robin is the daughter of Greg Purlee and the late Christine Purlee of Howe, Ind. and Nancy (Carls) Purlee of Howe, Ind. “Outrage” is a drama being promoted through grants by Elijah Haven Crisis Intervention Center, LaGrange, that sends a message to teens that dating violence is not acceptable. “It contains a lot of statistics. There are two drama scenes in “Outrage.” Student’s performances interchange, according to what school we are performing at. At Lakeland, the Lakeland students act in the dramas and then change roles at the other schools. “It is a good information and the dramas are good at reinforcing the word,” Robin said. All students in Outrage are volunteers. “I don’t really have a first

hand knowledge of violence but know people who have. My family and friends encouraged me to participate, Robin said. She will graduate from Lakeland with both academic honors and tech honors diploma. She said she has no declared major but will be working toward a degree in liberal arts from Indiana University-Bloomington. Robin is currently in her second year at the Four County

Area Vocational Cooperative in Kendallville where she is studying cosmetology. “I also intern at Radiant Hair Salon in LaGrange. The hours spent there apply to my vocational school credits. I will take a state board test to my cosmology license. I plan to continue with cosmetology — it will be a good job through college,” she said. Both Robin’s parents are

graduates of Sturgis High School. She was home schooled by her mother Chris until the ninth grade when Chris’ illness made it too difficult for her to continue. (Christine Purlee succumbed to cancer in December 2009.) Nancy Purlee, Robin‘s stepmother, describes Robin as a very bright and bubbly girl ‘with the funniest sense of humor. She is such a joy to be around.

LAKELAND ALTERNATIVE SCHOOL

COLON HIGH SCHOOL

Bridget Lackey By Wanda Yoder Journal Correspondent

Twenty-year-old Bridget Lackey of Howe, Ind., a student of Lakeland Alternative School since 2009, will graduate from Lakeland High School in June. “Bridget is a driven, determined young lady who will accomplish whatever she decides she wants to do,” said Amy Garl, Alternative School teacher. In her sophomore year, Bridget found herself pregnant. Also, diagnosed with a learning disability, she had to leave the support of the high school resources department teachers for a classroom that was very different, Garl said. When many would have dropped out of school altogether, Bridget was determined. “My mom didn’t graduate and I didn’t want my child to look back on things and say I didn’t graduate because of them. “I didn’t want to be a statistic, to be looked at different — young and a mom. To be looked down on,“ Bridget said. “I couldn’t let it bother me. And just pushed through for my kids and me.” Bridget left school for a short time when her son, Masson, was born Dec. 31, 2009. She returned in the

fall of 2010. Bridget also has a second son, Tanner, who was born May 3, 2011, following an automobile accident that sent her into labor. But, with the counsel of Amy Garl, she has managed. “I can attend school for three hours a day, and then go home and take

care of the kids. I do some work at school and do some work at home,” Bridget said, although she admitted school work at home was interrupted. “It is challenging balancing homework with the boys and being a mother. Sometimes I have to wait until they are asleep,” she said. “It is easier now with the new Apex program at Lakeland,” she said. “This allows for students to study classes on the Internet, which they receive credit for, and students receive a regular high school diploma from Lakeland.” Bridget lived with her grandmother, Minnie Lackey, from March 2008

until Jan. 3,. 2011, when her grandmother passed away from a stroke. Bridget said of the women who impacted her life values, “She was the strongest woman I had ever met and a women I hope to be like one day. She was the kind of woman that would tell you how it was and stuck up for what she believed. She loved God and her husband and her kids.“ Among Bridget’s supporters are her sister, Selina Rathburn, and her dad Willard Lackey. “They are my biggest supporters. I look up to Selina because she got pregnant at a young age and didn’t give up and my dad has always been a big part of my life and was there for me through every little thing in my life. My dad and mom, — Luckie Lackey of Howe, Ind. — have divorced but my mom is also there for me in her own way sometimes,“ Bridget said. Adding to her support group are companion, Dennis Kindy, and his grandmother, Yvonne Kindy of Howe. Yvonne watches the two boys when they Bridget and Dennis are at work or Bridget is at school.

She was described by a classmate as "Someone that everyone likes. She doesn’t try to fit in but is her own person with her own style that likes everyone. Robin was recognized at Lakeland as Prom Princess last year was this year’s Homecoming Queen.” Robin also participated in the Lakeland Spell Bowl and fall play and is currently working with Lakeland English instructor, Gina Papineau, on a graphic novel. “I love it. It is the best thing! That and doing the fall school play,” Robin said. Robin is also involved with her church and went on two mission trips to Honduras. “The first time we went as a family and then after mom died we returned to finish up what she started,” Robin said and added she would like to return again. Robin and her dad recently traveled to Europe, which include visiting Madrid, Paris and Rome (where she spent Good Friday). Robin is also a musician, playing both the piano and guitar and she is also a talented artist.

Misty Frazier By Terry Katz katz@sturgisjournal.com

Misty Frazier believes the secret to being happy throughout life is community service. Frazier, 17, a senior at Colon High School, said she learned that lesson from her parents, Warren and Traci Frazier. “My dad is vice president of the Colon Lion’s Club and my mother is also active in the club,” she said. “By watching my parents, I was inspired to do community service.” Frazier has an older brother, Patrick, who attends the University of Michigan, and two sisters, Nichole and Holly. “I’m involved in everything,” she said. At Colon High School, she is president of the National Honor Society, yearbook editor, a member of the Key Club, Student Council and takes charge of the Red Cross blood drive. She also enjoys playing basketball and coaches soccer. Frazier helps the Lion’s Club with its adopt a road pickups. One summer, she had a job at the Colon Village Hall which she said was fun. Frazier enjoys volunteering at the Colon Caring Kitchen, Colon Food Pantry and the Colon Historical Society. Being a part of things in the commu-

Congratulations Class of 2012

nity is Frazier’s way of life. “I just can’t sit and wait for things to happen,” she said. “I have to be doing things.” This summer, she plans to get a job before starting classes at Ferris State University. “First I want to get a bachelor’s degree in biology with a pre-vet track,” she said. Frazier then plans to do her graduate work at Michigan State University. She loves animals and is the proud owner of two dogs, Lady and Muffin, a

cockatiel that her dad loves and two cats. Frazier said she has a passion for finding homes for unwanted dogs. She recently found homes for three homeless dogs. Frazier said she hopes to some day have a kennel to raise her favorite breed of dogs, Great Danes. Frazier said she’s going to miss the people in Colon when she goes to college. “I just want to say thanks to everyone here,” she said.

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Saturday & Sunday, May 26-27, 2012

www.sturgisjournal.com MENDON HIGH SCHOOL

Taylor Batten By Jef Rietsma Journal correspondent

Taylor Batten has been in the paper more frequently than most people her age, but she remains modest about the attention. “It’s more important to me that people focus on supporting the troops than it is seeing me in the paper,” she said. “They need our support.” Taylor, 18, is a senior at Mendon High School. She said her dedication to the military and its members stemmed from 9/11. Though Batten was in first grade when the attacks happened, she said the images she saw on TV and in the newspapers have stuck with her through the years. Around the time she was in fifth grade and the Internet was proving to be a valuable tool for research, Batten was able to track down websites that gave details about how to help U.S. soldiers. “Through help from some friends and family members, and with what I could find on the Internet, I was able to start putting together care packages and sending them (to the Middle east),” Taylor said, unable to estimate how many care packages she has sent since then. “Dozens and dozens have followed only because I was able to get a lot of help from a lot of people.” Taylor said she has used

word of mouth and letters to the editor of local newspapers to spread word about her crusade. Her efforts have helped generate donations of food, comfort items and necessities

for U.S. soldiers. She said some care packages are requested while others are sent blindly with instructions to pass on to a soldier in need of a morale boost.

Hand sanitizer is a popular item, as are bottles of sun screen and snack foods that might not be readily available to the soldiers. Taylor said her efforts have

slowed somewhat since she is winding up her senior year. She has plans to attend Glen Oaks Community College in the fall, and eventually hopes to earn a degree in sociology or psychology. Taylor said she ultimately would like to be a dispatcher or corrections officer at the St. Joseph County Sheriff ’s Department. Medical conditions prevent Taylor from serving in the military. Joining the armed forces is a dream, but Taylor said she will continue to support the military as best she can. Her legacy will remain at Mendon High School. Not far from the main entrance are plaques displayed on a wall, honoring Taylor for her efforts. One was sent by a Mendon High School alumnus stationed at Camp Fallujah in Iraq, while another U.S. flag and a state of Michigan flag flown over the state capitol building in Lansing. Taylor said she hopes her efforts help people stop and think about how critical it is to thank the military for keeping the world a safe place. She said the care packages have been a small gesture but are her way of thanking soldiers. “They wake up every day and put their lives on the line,” Taylor said. “I’m hoping something small we do can make someone’s day a little brighter.”

THREE RIVERS HIGH SCHOOL

BURR OAK HIGH SCHOOL

Sera Brown

Kayla Poley

By Jef Rietsma Journal correspondent

When a high school principal boasts about a student being “a kind, caring and respectful individual,” it’s clear the recipient of such strong words is truly unique. That may explain why there was a mere millisecond of a pause after Three Rivers High School Principal Jean Logan was asked to suggest the name of an accomplished senior who has set the standard for maturity and commitment to academic excellence. “Sera Brown is a wonderful young lady who manages to balance dual enrollment, sports and numerous school activities,” Logan said. “She has a strong moral compass that will guide her to a very fulfilling life and successful career.” Sera, 18, graduated Friday from Three Rivers High School. She’ll attend the University of Michigan in the fall with the hope of earning a medical degree in neurology. But she also has plans that will see her take time off from her studies after

earning her bachelor’s degree. “I’d like to go into the Peace Corps and focus on AIDS testing in Africa before I start medical school,” Sera said. “I’ve made a lot of friends growing up in a small town, but I’m ready to branch out and experience more of the world.” Sera already has four college-level classes under her belt, as she has taken writing, gender studies, environmental biology and world history through a dual-enrollment opportunity at Western Michigan University. Sera said she is glad to have already dived into the world of college, as the familiarity will make for less of an adjustment for her in Ann Arbor. She said the experience also made her realize the differences between the way high school and college students behave. “After taking some classes at Western, I’d come back to high school and realize a lot of people just make too much drama out of life, and in college it seems people just show up, they don’t all care what they look like or how they’re dressed and they

just focus on the instructor,” she said. “I’m a lot less nervous about my first day at U of M because I’ve been in a college setting.” Sera quickly added, however, that there’s a lot about high school she’ll miss. She played four years of basketball and two years of tennis. She is on the track team and has managed to stay heavily involved in DECA, National Honor Society and her school’s journalism program. Her life lessons learned from participating in sports were valuable, she said. “The last two years of basketball have been unforgettable and I learned so much about sharing, counting on others and working for the good of a team,” Sera said, referencing the Lady Wildcats’ back-to-back league championships. “I’m really going to miss high school sports and my friends (who are juniors).” Sera said she will miss her teachers, too. “High school was a great experience because I had great, great teachers,” she said.

By Rosalie Currier currier@sturgisjournal.com

If she is anything, Kayla Poley of Burr Oak is driven by her many interests in life. “I love sports,” said Kayla, an 18 year-old senior. “I read a lot. I like to write. I play the guitar. I do a lot of hanging out with friends. I’m very much into history and politics. I like how the decisions these politicians can make change the way everyone lives.” From history she said, “I like hearing about all these people who come from a simple middle class background and move up the ladder to become world leaders.” Kayla’s favorite sports are volleyball and softball. But she’s not playing softball right now after a side into second base in April messed up her knee. “Oh yeah, I’m done,” Kayla said. “It made me fairly angry because I was having a decent season.” While the season of her favorite sport is over for Kayla, she has other things to look forward to. After graduation she’ll head to Central Michigan University to major in education to become a middle school or high school teacher.

Kayla looks forward to “knowing that as a teacher I’ll have the possibility to change somebody’s life,” she said. It’s an influence Kayla recognizes from some Burr Oak teachers, Kris Owens and Jennifer VanHoe. “Especially those two. The amount of time you get with them is great. Not just in the subjects they teach,” Kayla said, “but they’ll talk to you. They’ll take time out of their day to do that.” Apparently it’s a pleasure for Kris Owens her English teacher. “Everyday in a teacher’s life is a day that we hope to inspire and make a difference, and it is students like Kayla that reinforce that hope,” Owens said. “I envision her becoming an outstanding teacher who shows compassion to students and one who motivates and leads by example. I will truly miss having her in class, and I know that she will be a great asset to Central Michigan University and the teaching program there.” When Kayla comes home from college at Central Michigan University, she’ll have younger twin sisters, Paige and Hanna, waiting for her. Their par-

ents, Mark and Cheryl Poley waited several years before having more children, and during that time poured their energy into Kayla. “They are the driving force behind me being a a good student or a good athlete,” Kayla said. The family does it all while having a good time together. “There’s a lot of laughing,” she said. “It’s entertaining.” And she has two grandmothers who cheer her on from the sidelines. “My Grandma Poley keeps me accountable and that I’m in church,” Kayla said. “My Grandma Hagelgans is a No. 1 fan. I don’t think I can do anything wrong with her.” And while not everyone has the kind of support Kayla has, still she wants other realized “the decision they make are going to have an affect on the their future.” Kayla knows that good grades were “a wonderful decision that turned into a couple of scholarships,” she said. At motivation came from her parents, “I’ll admit. I had to get As,” Kayla said. But she has no regrets as she moves into the next phase of life.


www.sturgisjournal.com Saturday & Sunday, May 26-27, 2012

7

STURGIS HIGH SCHOOL

Lauren Link By Rosalie Currier currier@sturgisjournal.com

English and math aren’t usually a person’s two favorite subjects, but Lauren Link, a Sturgis High School senior is not just anyone. “Laurie is a cut above the rest. She is a self-starter who demonstrates exceptional moral fiber and strong personal convictions,” said James Lamb, history and government teacher, one of her favorite teachers. The diversity of her interests shows when Lauren mentions that a favorite subject is advanced placement calculus but in the fall at Michigan State University, she is considering a major in professional, writing, editing and publishing. Mary Bogart, Sturgis English teacher and yearbook advisor agrees with Lamb’s assesment of Lauren. She is “a remarkable, competent, caring and responsible young woman,” Bogart said. Bogart should know as she works closely with Lauren who is a yearbook co-editor — a project that takes long hours outside of class. Lance Goodlock, the AP biology teacher said that in class, “I knew Laurie was going to ask higher level questions so as her teacher I needed to be prepared with a plausible answer.” These teachers are on a long list of Lauren’s favorites.

“I’ve had a lot of great teachers,” Lauren said. “Mr. Evans, Mr. Green, Ms Borgart, Mr. Lamb, Mr. Goodlock. School comes first for me.” And while she likes sports, they haven’t been the focus of Lauren’s

high school career. Several physical injuries have limited her involvement and that gives Lauren a new perspective on sports. “It’s nice to be able to do them, but I don’t base everything on sports,” she said.

Her greater emphasis has been faith based in the last few years. “I’m in Campus Life, youth group and in a Bible study,” Lauren said. Holy Angels Catholic Church is where she attends youth group,

but the Bible study has been totally instigated and lead by a group of her high school friends. In the fall, Lauren knows, “I will definitely miss my friends.” But she is looking forward to “being more independent. Relying more on myself,” she said. At home, Lauren is the youngest child of Ken and Sherry Link. Her fond memories are of the good times they have at her grandmother, Jackie Harker’s home on Klinger Lake, skiing, boating and tubing. She also has an older brother Craig, and Lauren nearly glows when talking about him. “He’s one of my favorite people in the whole world. He’d do anything for me and I’d do anything for him,” Lauren said. Older by 10 years, Craig was playing basketball when Bogart first noticed Lauren. “I feel like I’ve watched Laurie grow up. I remember when she was in elementary school and her brother was playing basketball. She’d run up and down the bleachers in a little cheerleading uniform,” Borgart said. As she’s grown, Lauren said she’s gained self confidence from her parents who teach that if you’re going to do something, do it well. “I’m a perfectionist. I get that from my parents too,” Lauren said. “Whatever I do I put my whole self in it. That can be good and it can be bad.”

BRONSON HIGH SCHOOL

Franky Cabrera By Rosalie Currier currier@sturgisjournal.com

“Franky is the complete package; intelligent, hard working, and a young man of integrity,” said his Bronson High School science teacher, Lisa Franks. Franky Cabrera, a Bronson senior, is the son of Francisco and Florencia Cabrera. He’s been in the school district since kindergarten when he had Cindy Schrader for a teacher. In fact, Schrader is one of Franky’s favorite teachers from elementary school. “He will always be Francisco Cabrera to me,” Schrader said. That year in kindergarten, Francisco and about five of his friends tried to teach Schrader to speak Spanish. “I’m afraid I wasn’t very good at it,” she said. Franky remembers “the kindness — the warmheart feeling I got from her. I just felt accepted. I still see her every now and again and she gives me a hug,” he said. Today, Franky spreads that acceptance to his fellow students whom he greets with a “Hey”, a smile — sometimes a high five. It’s genuine, but he has felt pressure to be the perfect role model, Franky said. That changed in May

during a Laurie Stewart assembly. Stewart, a veteran in working with youth in their culture, was brought to the school to encourage kindness and openness among the students. Apparently it worked for some. That day was a turning point in his life, Franky said. In front of the 7-12th grade student body, he admitted some past mistakes. It’s been a freeing experience, Franky said. He confessed his less-thanperfect choices to “show people that you can be yourself. I’ll be more willing to not hide behind a mask,” he said. Academically, Franky’s favorite classes are math and chemistry and he’s headed for Kalamazoo College for a math major. Outside the classroom Franky is involved in musical theater both high school and community theater. He’s also into sports with a love for basketball and baseball. He joined the track team just this year. “I spent three years playing baseball to avoid running,” Franky said. Now running is going well too. The draw to sports is “the competition,” Franky said. “I love it. It brings out the best in me.” Then he works to bring out the best in others.

In the fall during the girls volleyball season, Franky and a group of friends named themselves the Swag Crew. They dress up in interesting costumes — something different for each game — and lead the crowd in cheering on the team. “A 100 kids would show up and do our chants and cheers,” he said. “Anything we could do to get the girls going.” That kind of encouragement doesn’t surprise the adults in his life. “Franky is a natural leader,” Franks said. “He has such a helpful, positive spirit that it is contagious to those around him.” That part is easy for Franky but, a challenge, he said, is to “balance

everything I’m involved in. I’d like to be involved in more but there isn’t time.” He also squeezes in time for his family. Older siblings come home on weekends to hang out and eat their mother’s cooking, he said. In the summer, his extended family goes to Pokagon State Park, in Angola, Ind. They swim, have a cookout and a day-long volleyball tournament. “I love volleyball because it reminds me of that,” Franky said. And while he’s probably involved in more than most students, Franky recommends it for any student. “Get involved,” he said. “It helps socially and with time management.”

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Saturday & Sunday, May 26-27, 2012

www.sturgisjournal.com

BURR OAK HIGH SCHOOL

BRONSON HIGH SCHOOL

Brian Ultz

Miranda O’Neill By Rosalie Currier currier@sturgisjournal.com

By Rosalie Currier currier@sturgisjournal.com

Brain Ultz, a Burr Oak High School senior, is an all-boy kind of guy. “Football is my sport but I play all the sports: baseball, basketball and track my freshman year,” Brian said. His favorite subjects this year are practical law, government and economics, which is good because he’s headed into law enforcement. Brian and his twin brother Brandon, have both been enrolled in the criminal law program through the Branch Area Careers Center in Coldwater. Last year Brian spent time with Colon police officers on the road for 10 hours a week for a month or two. This school year, since December, Brian has been an intern with the St. Joseph County Sherriff ’s Department working in the courthouse, the jail, with dispatchers and riding with officers. That variety has been interesting,

he said. And county Deputy Pete VanCamp has been especially encouraging. “He wants to make sure me and my brother are on the right track to get into the police academy,” Brian said. Some students go directly from high school into the police academy, but that isn’t wise, Brian said. Those who are hiring want an officer who has at least two years of college or even better, four years of college before the academy. Taking VanCamp’s advice to heart, Brian plans to attend Glen Oaks Community College for prerequisite classes. Then he hopes to go on the Grand Valley State University. Brian knows that staying on track for these goals isn’t always easy. In fact, earlier this school year he had a case of “senior-itis” and stopped doing homework, he said. But family and friends encouraged him to stick it out and finish high school well. Along with his twin brother Brandon and

younger sister Michaela, Brian gets encouragement from his parents Michael and Amy Ultz. His grandparents, Don and Carol Laughry also live with the family and that works out very well, Brian said. When his mom is at work, his grandparents are able to do things like bring to school what he has forgotten and fix dinner. “With them being at home, someone is always home for me,” Brian said. Or ready to go fishing. “I like it that I can just say I want to go fishing and my grandpa jumps right up and goes,” he said. In the boat surrounded by family support, bad days and difficult situation get better. And Brian said, “I can talk to my mom and dad about anything.” Although not everyone has that kind of unconditional support, Brian’s encouragement to younger students is to “be yourself. Don’t change who you are to try fitting in. If people to don’t accept you for who you are, they aren’t your friends,” he said.

Miranda O’Neill, a Bronson High School senior, “is a great kid and really smart student. She has an absolutely infectious sense of humor,” said one of her favorite teachers, Don Hicks, in the social studies department. She’s also open and honest about her struggles. Miranda did very well on the Bronson varsity volleyball team and earned several all-state awards, but it took some doing to stick with the rigorous program. “I’d come home from practice bawling saying I wanted to quit volleyball,” Miranda said. Her mother, Cindy Smith and sister Brooke O’Neill would help her refocus and stay with it. It has paid off. When the Bronson volleyball team won the state championship, Miranda was on the team. That accomplishment has been life changing for Miranda. It showed her that working for and accomplishing a goal, is possible. “My goals are harder now, knowing it can be done,” she said. And this fall she’ll be playing volleyball for Kellogg Community College. From there, Miranda plans to go on to Western Michigan University to major in psychology as she works toward her ultimate goal of a career in the criminal justice system. At the Branch Area Careers Center, Miranda has been in the criminal justice program which includes working in the circuit court probation office, riding along with police officers, visiting correctional facilities and “I got pepper sprayed. That was bad,” she said It’s all part of training to help students discover what they like and don’t like about the job. Beyond pepper spray,

Miranda learned she doesn’t enjoy working with youth in trouble. “I wanted to work in juvenal court but the kids don’t listen. They think they’re invincible. It was a fail,” she said. But sports are not a fail. Beyond the volleyball court, Miranda is also on the tennis team and ran track for a few years, but track wasn’t her favorite. One favorite for Miranda was a group of high school guys who called themselves “The Swag Crew.” They would show up for volleyball games dressed alike and got the crowd and team pumped up for the game. “I love the Swag Crew they are the best crew ever,” she said. Her job as a waitress at the Bronson Strike Zone is also on Miranda’s list of things she loves. “I love being with the people,” she said. And while Miranda is positive and outgoing, life isn’t always easy. She see that one life challenge is that her mom is a single parent. It wasn’t bad, she said, just a challenge. “I think it just made me stronger,” she said. Others have noticed her positive outlook on life. “Miranda is one of the most pleasant students I have ever encountered in my 30-plus years of teaching,” said Scott German, a science teacher, another of Miranda’s favorites. “She is a fantastic role model for her fellow students.” For those fellow students, Miranda has a bit of advice. “Don’t let anybody ever hold you back. Go for your dreams,” she said. Miranda’s family also includes her father John O’Neill, and sisters Jessica O’Neill and Beann Sullivan.

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Sturgis High School

www.sturgisjournal.com Saturday & Sunday, May 26-27, 2012

9

Bailey Abbs

Christopher Abbs

Amber Adamski

Mikayla Adamski

Luis Alcantar Soto

Lauren Alldredge

Stephen Alvey

Araceli Alvez Barajas

Bret Anderson

Josef Anderson

Tara Annis

Kevin Arias Rubio

Andreina Avila

Dante Avila

Pagie Baker

Amanda Bare

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Brian Barrons II

Jenapher Barton

Marie Bennett

McKenna Bibb

Norberto Birruete

Taylir Bishop

Luis Blanquet Garcia

Jenifer Blouin

Alyssa Blowers

Christopher Boland

Alex Borgert

Megan Bowman

Sedrick Bowser

Alexandra Brazo

Nathan Brown

Maranda Buchan

Brice Burch

David Butcher

Emily Campbell

Edgar Canizal

Jessica Carr

Maria Castro Espinal

Anel Castro Nieves

Yvonne Cavazos

Adam Cline

Christopher Cline

Ceirra Coburn

Robert Compean

Luke Condon

Christian Contreras Trejo

Analiz Correa

Jovanni Cruz

Helen Datkovic

Erin Davidson

Sarai De Jesus

Michelle Deam

Stephanie Deam

Rachelle Delong

Buddy Denman II

Bradley Emerson

Gabriel Esseltine

Lucas Fagundes

Brooke Fayette

Amberle Fieberkorn

Jaime Fields

Brandon Forbes

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Gabrielle Frohriep

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Leslie Gamez Olivares

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Robert Harrison

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Sturgis High School 10 Saturday & Sunday, May 26-27, 2012

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Austin Jenks

Kaidy Johnson

Marvin Jones III

Morgan Jones

Justin Jordan

Austin Keller

Cole Kelley

Kyle Kelley

Kelsey Keyser

Caleb Kirk

Matthew Knockeart

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Mikayla Kunce

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Christopher Layman

Dayea Lee

Nathanael LeJarett

Lauren Link

Feiyu Liu

Sara Lopez Caride

Karina Lopez Gonzalez

Cristal Lopez

Haley Lunger

Anna Lytle

Gerardo Maldonado

Cristina Mangandi

Liza Marek

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Justin Maxson

Stevi May

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Amberlee Mckerchie

Joe McMillin III

Miranda Meese

Corrine Millard

Alexander Miller

Drake Miller

Ryan Miller

Sasha Miller

Stephen Miller

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Olivia Mizner

Brett Modert

Ruben Monroy Villeda

Yesenia Montoya

Scott Morris

Michael Muino

Kenneth Mullet

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Naemi Munoz

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Marcus Myers

Dakota Neff

Maria Nieves Solis

Austin Nusbaum

Adriana Olivares

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Adam Parker

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Juan Pena

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Sturgis High School 12 Saturday & Sunday, May 26-27, 2012

www.sturgisjournal.com

Omar Reyes

Gala Reynel Cerriteno

Alexandra Richards

Jackelyn Ringler

Viridiana Rodriguez Ramirez

Paten Rollins

Dalton Royer

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Elizabeth Sandoval

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Abigail Scheske

Daniel Scheske

Dustin Schmidt

James Leo Schmidt

Katelyn Schrock

Nicolette Schroeder

Lauren Schuler

Shantelle Schultz

Brooke Schwartz

Heidi Schwartz

Michael Shuler

Morgan Siler

Jacob Slone

Elena Smith

Haiti Smith

Cyrstal Snow

Autumn Stanke

Moriah Steele

Devan Stiles

Evon Stuart

Nathan Stump

Carlos Suarez

Olivia Tom

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Lena Waldner

Addam Walker

Robert Walter III

Alexa Webb

Logan Webb

Larissa Weddle

Riley Wentzel

Ashlynne Wiley

Nicholas Wilson

Brienna Wright

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Burr Oak High School

www.sturgisjournal.com Saturday & Sunday, May 26-27, 2012

13

Jasmine Anteau

Nicholas Bowman

Guilherme Campos

Colin Currier

Nicholas Eldridge

Yukun Gong

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Bronson High School 14 Saturday & Sunday, May 26-27, 2012

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Lisa Abbey

Adrian Aguilar

Donyel Albarran

Paige Aldrich

Derek Baker

Lucas Bertsch

Konstanze Borchert

Francisco Cabrera

Shane Caddell

Shawn Caddell

Dillon Carr

Danielle Cary

Katelyn Cary

Lindsey Case

Jacob Cekander

Timothy Cowell

Lindsey Cronkhite

Sean Czajkowski

Thomas Demeritt

Jesse Dibiosso

James Ferguson

Alexandre Ferrer

Dalton Fowler

Carrie Gilbert

Cecelia Gonzalez Mendez

Tyler Graybill

George Griffith

Chanelle Gunthrop

Michael Holman

Austin Hostetler

Tyler Hyliard

Joshua Hyska

Hope Johnson

Katelyn Johnson

Brandi Lafler

Erin Laukhuf

Shawn Lepper

Lacie Lind

Daniel Lipke

Courtney Losinski

Cierra Love

Heydon Lown

Ana Martinez Espinoza

Brian Martinez

Presley Martinez

Caleb McGuire

Isaac McKinley

Stephen McMeen

Ronnie Miller II

Anthony Mitchell

Austin Mohney

Heewon Na

Adrian Nelson

Meghan Nelson

Ha Nguyen

Diego Nunez Reyes

Miranda O’Neill

Phyllip Parsons

Orbelin Perez Martinez

Andres Perez-Coco Mateos

Austin Phibbs

Brooke Pyles

Joseph Ransbaugh

Elizabeth Riddle

Jaclyn Rinehart

Breana Ritter

Breanna Roberts

Angel Santamaria

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Bronson High School

Logan Stout

Ashley Sweitzer

Rebekah Taden

Llyod Wallace

Paige Taylor

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Centreville High School

www.sturgisjournal.com Saturday & Sunday, May 26-27, 2012

Candi Tice

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Constantine High School 16 Saturday & Sunday, May 26-27, 2012

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Lakeland High School

www.sturgisjournal.com Saturday & Sunday, May 26-27, 2012

17

Tim Abbott

Osvaldo Albor

Claudia Alejo

Colin Anderson

Edward Baczunksi

Kim Baker

Marcelino Ballines

Kayla Barroquillo

Ryan Barrows

Dakota Becker

Chelsea Bell

Andrew Besinger

Caleb Bortner

Kyle Bowen

Carly Boyd

Britany Brewer

Brenner Brown

Edgar Carmona

Hsing Chu

Karen Cleveland

Ryan Cole

Kaleb Combs

Ernesto Cruz

Rene Delgado

Makayla Dodd

Holly Eaton

Robert Elliott

Joshua Enyart

Nichole Enyart

Aaron Fair

Helynd Feltrin

Kyle Foulk

Ana Garcia

Nathan Garrett

Remi Gaudthier

Ashley Gerber

Vance Giles

Dustin Gilger

Avery Glick

Lynne Glick

Caitlyn Gonser

Cristyn Gonser

Brittany Graber

Paige Graham

Shawn Haire

Courtney Hall

Jessica Handshoe

Ty Harshberger

William Haston

Noe Heredia

Carolyn Hershberger

Brit Higgenbotham

Brandon Hill

Zach Hillman

Conner Hostetler

Nathan Huss

Tanakrit Imiam

Brandon Johnson

Kerry Jordan

Kasey Kauffman

Jalen King

Bridget Lackey

Devon Laisure

Brett Lantz

Emilee Lesch

Creig Leu

Cody Lewis

Jake Lichtsinn

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Phis Liu

Kathleen Long

Curtis Lumadue

Brandon Manns

Marlena Marti

Casey McCaffrey

Hailee McCann

Kristina McCulloch

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Lauren McKibben

Matt McMullen

Jillian Melton

Ashley Miller

John Miller

Taylor D. Miller

Taylor Miller

Brady Moore

Brandon Moore

Tanecia Moore

Carlos Morales

Madison Mourning


Lakeland High School 18 Saturday & Sunday, May 26-27, 2012

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Maria Munoz

Hannah Myers

Lexie Myers

Kailey Newman

Matthew North

Ryan Oakley

Brittany O’Brien

Jansen Parker

Jaclyn Plyley

Randy Porter

Chelsea Prill

Robin Purlee

TJ Rich

Cody Richardson

Jacob Ringelman

Tatum Ritchie

Gavin Robinson

Antonio Rodriquez

Alyster Roebel

Brandon Ruder

Ashley Russell

Brandon Russell

Kaitlin Sams

Rosio Sanchez

Juan Santana

Austin Schermerhorn

Brady Schrock

Shane Scott

Jeff Shultz

Ben Slaven

Cody Smith

Kayla Smith

Brannnon Springer

Chris Standord

Devanee Steider

Michael Stilley

Austum Streeter

Mainsel Theis

Brittany Thron

Adam Tjarks

Nigel Torres

Gain Troyer

James Upton

Skylar Vaughn

Codee Wallace

Elizabeth Wellman

Nicole Wetzel

Dustin Wolheter

Kyle Woodward

Emilie Wright

Yifei Yang

Cheryle Yoder

Mandee Yoder

Steven Yoder

Congratulations Julie Yutzy

Class of 2012!

Wei Zhou

uates! d a r G LUCK

Best of

NOT PICTURED Eric Bernal Damain Brown Jared Carr Matthew Hicks Jack Miller

Josh Miller Cory Morgan Anna Munoz Eric Munoz Matthew Paulus Jonathan Tracy

Lake Area Christian School

Sales Associates: Tom Helmkamp, John Fisher, Ben Kelham, Mike Helmkamp

www.lagrangecountydodge.com

260.463.7050 1109 N. Detroit St. • LaGrange • www.hometown-food.com Mon-Thurs 6am-8pm • Fri/Sat 6am-9pm • Sun 6am-7pm

260-463-2161 • 800-525-1297 State Road 9 • LaGrange, IN

Bravo Seniors! Your Next Big Step is Finding

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Pet Friendly Some Restrictions Apply

24 Hr Emergency Maintenance Service

Call Us today & Find Out!

155 Memorial Drive A-8 • Sturgis, MI

www.fitzoneforwomen.com

stoughtonestates@mrdapartments.com

943 S. Centerville Rd. • Sturgis, MI • Kroger Plaza

269-659-8177 y e w


Mendon High School

www.sturgisjournal.com Saturday & Sunday, May 26-27, 2012

WE KEEP YOUR *

19

See The Difference GM Experience Makes!

PROTECTED…

• Parts Advisors • Master Technicians • Service Advisors • GM & ASE Certified

Honest • Dependable

Huff-Riverview

See Steve Westra & His Service Team!

We Service All Makes & Models

NO MATTER THE

KOOL

Insurance Agency

*Dignity and Magnificence.

Service

Congratulations mendon grads!

Chevy • Buick • GMC

109 W. Main St, Mendon

269-496-2445 M I C H I G A N ’ S I N S U R A N C E C O M PA N Y

AUTO - HOME - LIFE - COMMERCIAL

A G E N C Y, LLC

Centreville at the Village Market Plaza

269-467-6308

www.tompkinsurance.com

Three Rivers High School

Service Hours: Monday thru Friday - 7:30 am to 5:30 pm

810 W. Chicago • Sturgis

269-651-9304

Tanner Adams

Santiago Albicker

Casey Allen

Ghalen Allen

Kent Anding

Zach Appleton

Allison Babcock

Miles Baker

Alayna Baker

Clemteen Baldwin

Anni Balog

Lyssa Barnum

Colin Batten

Delaney Beekmans

Onnika Bell

Jason Benson

Patrick Berbuir

Austin Blyly

Lynnsey Boody

Raven Bowen

Christina Brown

Hunter Brown

Sera Brown

Kristen Casler

Paul Chaberlain

Bradley Chapman

Jake Chitwood

Andriea Clark-Jaquays

David Compean

April Cossairt

Austin Cox

Kari Curtis

Julia DeOliveria

Valarie DeBoer

Jackson Draime

Brandon Ellison


Three Rivers High School 20 Saturday & Sunday, May 26-27, 2012

www.sturgisjournal.com

Eric Fleck

Catherine Friel

Amanda Frye

Alyssa Frye

Corinne Gahan

Christina Garza

Emily Gilpin

Shannon Grace

Kristen Hammon

Logan Harbin

David Hartsig

Dana Hauser

Dakota Herrygers

Tyler Hershberger

Jermaine Hescott

Jordan Hicks

Dekion Holmes

Jerrica Homan

Colbey Hoyt

Sierra Hunt

Marie Hyde

Matt Jacobs

Jory Jennings

Jacob Johnson

Joseph Jones

Tevin Jorge

Pleiness Kasie

Hunter Keith

Kevin Khim

Branden King

James Kipker

Theeron Kiser

Jamie-Lee Kline

Morgan Klingerman-Smith

Brent Krene

Phillip Kuehn

Priyanka Kumar

Terra Kutz

Amber Larkin

Amy Lau

Morgan Lewandewski

Laurin Masnari

Reynaldo Mata

Corey Matthews

Ashanti McKentry

Connar McLeod

Alayna Metty

Charles Miller

Mary Miller

Michael Milowe

Brooke Misel

Kyle Orchsenrider

Aaron Olson

Richard Paauwe

Oscar Palemino

Marcus Palmer

Martin Perez

Bryn Pollwczynski

Jacob Raifsnider

Braden Raver

Cody Richardson

Taylor Richmond

Emily Rose

Matthew Rose

Morgan Samson

Houston Sanders

Nate Sassaman

Nicole Schlabach

Shashana Schwartz

Brandon Seager

Nate Sell

Tyler Shelton

Molly Silvers

Caton Soncarty

Patriece Spain

Charli Spier

Ashley Staecker

Dustin Stevens

Katie Sussforf

Rumi Tanaka

Woody Thompson

CONGRATULATIONS GRADUATES!

Looking for a Special

Gift for Your Grad thisYear?

Sturgis Bank & Trust Company www.sturgisbank.com 269-273-8481

Parker Jewelers

43 N. Main St. Historic Downtown Three Rivers Thur 10-5 Fri 10-6 Saturday 10-3


Three Rivers High School

www.sturgisjournal.com Saturday & Sunday, May 26-27, 2012

21

Vicky Thurman

Robbie Tisset

Amber Tucker

Logan Ulmer

Tabitha Wade

Mackenzie Waltz

Erin Weiandt

Chris Weirich

Andrew Whitmyer

Miah Whitworth

Tessa Wiard

Whitney Wilkins

Joshua Williams

Joshua Winfrey

Yuchen Wu

Elisa Yonge

Sara Anderson

Emili Axe

Zack Bedard

Marshall Block

Dakota Brooks

Casey Byler

Naomi Carmona

Tyler Chantrenne

Alicia Clark

Ashley Colvin

Taylor Connell

Courtney Connell

Austin Dean

Morgan DeMeyer

Zach Dok

Aspen Eymer

Donna Farmer

Atty Flood

Zachary Gropp

Taylor Hagen

Carlee Harmon

Jessica Harmon

Jessica Hoover

Juarez Itzel

Michael Jensen

Austin Johnson

Eric Johnson

White Pigeon High School

Tanner White

CONGRATULATIONS GRADUATES! Congrats Seniors!

Sturgis Bank & Trust Company www.sturgisbank.com 269-483-9668

See The Difference GM Experience Makes! • Parts Advisors • Master Technicians • Service Advisors • GM & ASE Certified

Hair Styles Etc.

Ch

ie fs

A

Batteries • Batteries • Batteries

269-435-2090

See Steve Westra & His Service Team!

We Service All Makes & Models

269-483-2154

Ch

ie fs

Congratulations Seniors! • A/C Service • Check Engine Light • Tune-Ups • Oil Change • Brakes • Plus Much More!

Honest • Dependable

Melanie Atherton • Kelly Shafer • Chellsie Laferty

y

16946 U.S. 12 • White Pigeon , MI

KOOL

e

Service Chevy • Buick • GMC

CONGRATULATIONS CLASS OF 2012 Service Hours: Monday thru Friday - 7:30 am to 5:30 pm

1280 S. Washington • Constantine

Congratulations

Graduates!

F Farrand

269-651-9304

Wagoner’s

t Family Restauran

–Hometown Food–

Downtown White Pigeon 269-483-7960 ###

810 W. Chicago • Sturgis

CONGRATULATIONS to our Graduating Employees

Order Your Homemade Pies! # # # Congratulations Joel Miller Class of 2012

FUNERAL HOME, INC.

DANIEL R. CZAJKOWSKI, Director

JoAnna Mallo

269-483-7305

300 N. Kalamazoo St., White Pigeon, MI

CELEBRATING OUR 2ND YEAR ANNIVERSARY

Ashley Garl

350 W. Chicago Rd. • White Pigeon, Michigan 269-483-9014 • 6:30am-11:00pm Daily


White Pigeon High School 22 Saturday & Sunday, May 26-27, 2012

www.sturgisjournal.com

Andrew Jordan

Matthew Keegan

Stacey Kochenderfer

Kody Kopf

Nicole Lane

Rachel Leister

Lance Lemmerhart

Bruce Mercer

Joel Miller

Joshua Miller

Tanner Nichols

Amy Nussbaum

Jordan Phelps

Alexis Radley

Matthew Sanderson

Jacob Saunders

Roger Schmidtendorff

Ella Sherlock

Holly Sigler

Kirsten Smith

Brandon Summers

Deven Terry

Johnny Tullos

Samantha Wordelman

Mike Giera RPh.

White Pigeon

Auto Parts & Hardware

C MPLETE Alyssa Wright

Kathie Stratman 208 W. Chicago White Pigeon, MI

269-483-2277 Congratulations Seniors!

601 E. Chicago Rd. • White Pigeon, MI • (269) 483-7626 Hours: Mon.-Thurs. 9-6; Fri. 9-7; Sat. 9-2; Closed Sundays & Holidays

Congratulations Class of 2012!

White Pigeon - Branch Manager 113 W. Chicago Rd., White Pigeon

483-9671 or 800-825-7200

PMcare is a walk-in clinic intended for non-emergency care when your physician is unavailable.

We can work with you to identify your dreams, values and priorities in life - the stuff that really matters. Knowing this, we can help you to develop a comprehensive plan that targets every aspect of your goals at every stage of your life. Why wait? Schedule a free, no-obligation appointment today!

269-651-3554 Hours: 9:00AM - 9:00PM Mon. through Fri., 11:00AM - 3:00PM Sat. Appointments: Walk-in basis only. No appointment necessary Providers: Physicians, Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners Insurances: Accepting most insurances including Medicare & Medicaid Cost: Services are charged at typical office visit rates with a 35% discount for self-pay patients paying total bill at time of service. Normal office visit co-payments apply.

1717 E. Chicago Rd., Sturgis, MI | S.E. corner of Franks Ave. and U.S. 12

M. Vince Little MBA, CFP®

Chad A. Keim, CRPC® President

LPL Financial Advisor

LPL Financial Advisor

Brian R. Oswald LPL Financial Advisor

Oakleaf Financial Services A subsidiary of Sturgis Bank & Trust Company 269-651-2475 • 800-362-6827

125 E. Chicago Rd., Sturgis, MI • www.lpl.com/oakleaf.financial


Major minors 2012