The Kenai Masonic Lodge No. 11 presented its annual student awards April 15 at the Kenai Central High School Little Theater.
The awards are given to one student at the highest grade in each Kenai Peninsula Borough School District public school. After a flag presentation by Masons in colonial garb, students received awards from teachers or principals, who spoke about their accomplishments.
Each winning student's name was added to their school's plaque, and students also received a certificate, plaque, book and U.S. savings bond.
"This is an awesome opportunity to recognize the best and the brightest," Superintendent Donna Peterson said during the ceremony. "It's partnerships like these with the community ... that makes us such an awesome school district."
Winners were as follows:
Name: Michael Bruxvoort
School: Aurora Borealis Charter
Parents: Elizabeth and Brian Bruxvoort
Comments: Michael has a high grade point average, participates in sports, does volunteer work with his church and enjoys art, said teacher Suzanne Phillips. "I have never seen anyone quite like Mike with language," Phillips said. Michael excels in his Latin class and recently won the Veterans of Foreign Wars Ladies Auxiliary's essay contest, writing about his dream for America. "He is active in all his classes ... reliable, respectful and respects himself enough not to bow to peer pressure."
Name: Tris Brymer
School: Chapman Elementary
Parents: Robert and Denise Brymer
Comments: "He has that quality of leadership, when we talk about somebody who walks the walk, that's him," said Principal Dick Sander. "He is a wonderful student and outstanding athlete ... I couldn't be happier for the chance to honor him."
Name: Jeff Rice
Parents: Lynn and Cindie Rice
Comments: "I am most impressed with his ability to set a goal and see it to fruition," said Erling Hofseth, principal of the Connections home-school program. Jeff is one of three Connections students to earn the UA scholarship this year. He also has completed his EMT training and volunteers for both Central Emergency Services and Funny River Emergency Services. He has earned his private pilot's license and plans to attend PanAm's International Flight Academy school in Florida next fall.
Name: Jasmine Woodland
School: Kalifornsky Beach Elementary
Parents: Forrest Woodland and Darlene Estes
Comments: "Jasmine always comes in with a smile on her face and her strong work ethic hasn't wavered," said Principal Sylvia Reynolds. "She asks for extra work and always questions her teachers." Reynolds said Jasmine's fourth-grade teacher recalled her as "one of the sparkplugs in the class." Jasmine has participated in Future Problem Solvers, Mind A-Mazes, the borough forensics competition and the Reflections art contest. She also is a straight-A student and this year's K-Beach spelling bee winner. She also recently completed her first film. Reynolds said Jasmine's Quest teacher called Jasmine "creative, compassionate and kind."
Name: Rachel Lovett
School: Kenai Alternative High
Parents: Beverly and Joseph Lovett
Comments: "(Rachel) is just a very conscientious student," said Sandy McIntyre, Kenai Alternative's young parent coordinator. A single mom with a 2-year-old daughter, Rachel has made every effort to raise her child while completing her education. In addition to earning her high school diploma on time this year, Rachel also will earn her certified nursing assistant license and plans to work for a year before beginning college to study archaeology or forensic science. "She's a good student, a good mom and just has done a really good job here," McIntyre said.
Name: Shelah Moreno-Jones
School: Kenai Central High
Parents: Marilu and Roger Jones
Comments: "You've heard a lot of things attributed to students that could be said of Sheila," said Principal Dennis Dunn. "What you may not know is Sheila just played in the ... concert. Her piano piece was absolutely unbelievable. What that speaks to is her commitment in whatever she chooses to pursue. Whatever it is she chooses, she goes all out."
Name: Kyla Steward
School: Kenai Middle
Parents: Toni and Lloyd Steward
Comments: "Kyla is an outstanding young person," teacher Jean Dixon said. "She's in my leadership class and truly is a leader. I appreciate her hard work and tenacity." Kyla also participates in volleyball, basketball, soccer, swimming and plays saxophone in the school band. She is a referee for Boys and Girls Club soccer and a Sunday school helper at her church."I'd be amiss if I didn't take a moment to mention her parents. She has been on the receiving end of amazing and awesome parenting. But it's what you do with that guidance and knowledge that makes the difference."
Name: Alina Eldredge
School: Nikiski Elementary
Parents: Dave and Connie Eldredge
Comments: "She is someone who always does the right thing," said teacher Ann Kendall. "She always makes the best choices for herself and those around her." In addition to high academic achievement, Alina also participates in the school band, plays two instruments, writes songs and is part of the school's forensics team. "She's always doing what a well-rounded, honest person should."
Name: Ramona Baker
School: Nikiski Middle-Senior High
Parents: Robert and Leslie Baker
Comments: "Ramona was one of the first students I encountered (when I became assistant principal)," said Sandy Miller. "Ramona has helped me and bailed me out. She has a list of awards." She maintains a 4.0 grade point average, is student body president, works in the school office and recently earned first place in the state debate competition. "She is an outstanding student, and I look forward to watching what she will do." Ramona plans to attend Lewis and Clark College in Oregon next fall to study environmental journalism.
Name: Danikt 'Danny' Kuzmin
Parents: Pelagia Kuzmin
Comments: When we were surveying the staff, the name that kept coming up was Danny Kuzmin," wrote Principal Terry Martin. A participant in sports, church and his community, Danny makes top grades and is "an enjoyable young man to be around," Martin wrote.
Name: Katie Moerlein
Parents: Kristine and Tim Moerlein
Comments: "In my career, she is probably one of the two top students I've seen," said Principal Mike Wetherbee. "She's been an outstanding student for her whole career." Katie plans to take pre-med courses at Dartmouth College next fall.
Name: Dylan "Bob" Seater
Dylan "Bob" Seater
School: North Star Elementary
Parents: Callesta and Charles Seater
Comments: "We have an incredible sixth-grade class. When they were in third grade, they were nicknamed the 'Future Presidents of the United States Class.' So the choice was difficult, but time and time again, Bob's name came forward as the natural choice," said teacher Teresa Zinck. "He shows respect for other students. He is fair and kind. ... He is able to look at the big picture." Zinck also read comments from Bob's classmates: "One time I saw him help someone get up when they were hurt." "He helps me with science." "He is funny and happy all the time." "He loaned me a pencil."
Name: Blaine Carver
School: Redoubt Elementary
Parents: Brad and Jeanna Carver
Comments: "Blaine is a silent leader," said Principal Todd Syverson. "He shatters all our academic assessments." He also is at the top of his class, a member of the Future Problem Solvers Team, a student council representative and participates in intramural sports including basketball, soccer and football. "He takes on new challenges and is recognized by his peers. He is a great young man, caring, loving and courteous."
Name: Lisa Steinbrecher
School: Seward High
Parents: Roger and Noreen Steinbrecher
Comments: Lisa has spent the last four years of high school involved in several academic and cocurricular activities. She has earned varsity letters in volleyball, basketball and track and field. According to Seward High Principal Steve Pautz, Lisa plans to attend college in Minnesota or North Dakota next fall. She hopes to major in business management, play volleyball and someday own and operate an animal training facility.
Name: Emily Berezin
School: Skyview High
Parents: Elizabeth and Marc Berezin
Comments: "The greatest thing that stands out (about Emily) is her natural, innate love of learning," said Principal John Pothast. "She wants to learn and do what she can in life." Emily recently was honored with the University of Alaska scholarship and will serve as Skyview's valedictorian.
Name: Ryan Sanders
School: Soldotna Elementary
Parents: Phil and Laurie Sanders
Comments: "This year's winner is a young man most would describe as very quiet," said Principal Carolyn Cannava. "But he speaks volumes with his kindness, respect and positive attitude." Ryan participates in choir and band, helps the school nurse with the Safety Seal program and enjoys biking and soccer. "He is an excellent role model and very well liked. ... He is a talented and humble young man."
Name: Kaitlin Vadla
School: Soldotna High
Parents: Penny and Bruce Vadla
Comments: Kaitlin has received a number of awards and honors throughout her school career, and it is no surprise to her teachers. "She is one of those students a teacher never forgets. She is a leader by example. She is cheery, easy to be around," said teacher Bruce Rife. Kaitlin has won the Caring for the Kenai contest in the past, she maintains a Web business and she earns high marks in school. Earlier this year, she organized a community forum to discuss education funding, and last year, her score on the Advanced Placement biology test put her among the top 12 percent of students in the nation.
Name: Rosemary Houglum
School: Soldotna Middle
Parents: Linda and Tom Houglum
Comments: "What's in a name? Rose, I think there's a lot in a name," said teacher Letitia Hallett. "Beauty without showiness, gentleness and strength without thorns." Rose plays the piano and recently participated in the "Nutcracker" ballet. She works hard and helps others. "Kids who barely know Rose talk about how they know she is nice. Rose is no greenhouse rose. She has never shied away from a challenge. She is protected not by thorns, but by her roots, her family and her faith. She is a true rose."
Name: Michael Patrick Griffin II
School: Sterling Elementary
Parents: Laura and Michael Griffin Sr.
Comments: "I've had the opportunity to be Michael's teacher for two years," said teacher Teri Hoffman. "He repeatedly demonstrates high standards, always strives to do his best and displays an enthusiasm for learning." That enthusiasm is mirrored in athletics, where Michael plays baseball, football and hockey. "He is a genuinely honest and caring individual," Hoffman said.
Name: Emily Rojas-Mickelson
School: Susan B. English
Parents: Vivian Rojas and John Mickelson
Comments: Not available
Name: Shelby Dykstra
School: Tustumena Elementary
Parents: David and Joni Dykstra
Comments: "Some people have leadership by force, some have it naturally," said teacher Ron Records. "She is one who has it naturally. Students immediately line up behind her, whether in athletics or school. She is an example to her fellow students and an example to the community at large."
Name: Rhoslyn Jennings
School: West Homer Elementary
Parents: Richard and Rosemary Jennings
Comments: A high academic achiever, as well as a participant in sports, band, ballet and community service, Roselyn is a "very good citizen," said her teacher, Ann Heimbuch. "She's always there when I need her."
Brittany Jeska, a 12th-grader at Homer High School, and Jennifer Bitterman, an eighth-grader at Homer Middle School, also received the awards. No information or pictures were available.
Compiled by Jenni Dillon
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