By Lorae Vardas, Correspondent
The February Students of the Month at Pierz Healy High School are Katelyn Athman, daughter of Leon and Karen Athman, and Derek Spaulding, son of Danita amd Kevin Spaulding. The senior classmates are being honored for their high academic standing, leadership qualities, participation in a variety of school activities and good citizenship.
While the honorees credit teachers and staff for opening the doors of learning for them, they pay the greatest tribute to their parents for laying the foundations for success.
“My parents have been true role models for me,” said Athman. “My father taught me integrity and hard work. My mom taught me empathy and character. Through my parents I have learned love and to have my faith guide me in life.”
Spaulding shared similar sentiments: “My role models have always been my parents. Without them I wouldn’t be who I am. They have always supported me in everything I do,” he said. Both have a natural curiosity about deceased family members and picked their grandfathers as the persons they would most liked to have met.
Athletic and musically inclined, Spaulding played football and is in band and jazz band where he serves as an officer. He says his extracurricular activity of choice is Business Professionals of America (BPA) since it has brought him a lot of success and he enjoys meeting people from different schools.
Ruth Stuckmayer, business education instructor and BPA adviser, said Derek has been an integral part of the BPA organization over the past four years. “He made a commitment to BPA as a freshman and has exceeded my expectations as a competitive member,” she said
“He has advanced to state and national levels for the past two years and is optimistic again this year. He competes on a team of students who work well together and have high expectations of each other. They push each other to learn more and improve the little things, which is a hard concept to teach in high school.”
Spaulding said that the BPA program has been the impetus for some of his most memorable moments. Taking first-place in state competition and advancing to nationals twice are accomplishments he’ll never forget.
“In the classroom I can count on Derek to challenge himself and others. I can count on him to help out whenever necessary,” said Stuckmayer. “I hope he finds success in his college/career beyond high school. He will be missed.”
Spaulding’s post-graduation plans are to attend the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities concentrating on a major in computer science. He will miss the friendships he’s forged and all the teachers who’ve supported him over the years. They’re likely to remember him as hard working, fun and a good friend.
Athman’s friends will remember her as a very caring and responsible person who is always available to help out. She plans to finish her associate of arts degree at Central Lakes College in preparation for a four-year degree in social work.
The busy senior recalled some of her favorite moments as a member of Peer Helping, WEB, Spanish Club and Pierz Area Coalition (PAC). While Spanish club opened her world to new cultures and experiences, as PAC co-chair she became part of a group of student advocates who realize kids can have fun without the peer pressure of drinking.
Being in Peer Helping really impacted her as a person, she said.
“It taught me to make sure I am here to be a friend and mentor to students who may not have one; also that you can turn anyone’s day better by just being a happy and friendly face in the hallway,” she said.
“With WEB (an acronym for Where Everybody Belongs) it was so amazing to see new students come into school and be there to help them feel comfortable,” Athman said. “It was also very satisfying telling them about the great experiences they can look forward to in high school.”
Jon Thorn, Healy High math teacher sees a bright future for Athman because of her warm and cheery personality. “I have always enjoyed having Katelyn in class because she is a very pleasant and hard working student. She brings a positive outlook into the room,” he said.
Some of Athman’s most cherished memories occurred outside the classroom. She said her favorite pastimes include spending time with nephew Quinn who exudes love and happiness. Another event that has made a lasting impression was being selected by the American Legion Auxiliary to attend Girl’s State as a junior.
Athman and Spaulding join the growing ranks of Students of the Month at Pierz Healy High School eligible for $1,500 scholarships sponsored by Farmers and Merchants State Bank of Pierz.