By Anna Skinner
Twelve students were recognized at the sixth annual Westfield Youth Assistance Program Youth Recognition Breakfast April 20 at East Street Studios.
The honorees were all from Westfield Washington Schools and had all endured adversity that led to them being nominated by a teacher, counselor or principal.
“Today is one of my favorite community days of the entire year,” said Eric Douthit, president of WYAP. “It’s an opportunity to truly recognize the stars of Westfield. These are kids who have been given a challenge or obstacle or extraordinary circumstances. We are honoring kids who have impressed a teacher, counselor or principal so much that that individual has taken time to congratulate those children.”
Honorees were not required to be a mentee with WYAP to be selected for recognition.
Honorees received a plaque from Mayor Andy Cook and the WWS staff that nominated the student spoke of the student’s accomplishments to the crowd.
Students recognized were Kara Anderson, Tori Collins, Keyonna Gambrell, Renalie Ginto, Brandt Grabowski, Dylan Martinez, Kevin Uriel, Estrada Murillo, Jonathan Robles, Edgar Romero, Alayna Shea and Aqualis and Coltrane Varner. The students’ grade levels ranged from elementary to high school.
Cook spoke on Westfield and Hamilton Co.’s mission to receive funding for Youth Assistance Programs from the county council.
“There are 110 active cases right here in little Westfield,” he said. “There are eight early intervention advocates across the county, funded from different methods like schools, the city and donations and grants. Our goal is to endeavor and provide a sustainable source of income for our early intervention advocates. The county is benefitting greatly financially by not having as many kids juvenilely involved.”
Cook said some county council members are already on board with the funding attempts. State Sen. Luke Kenley, State Rep. Tony Cook and Hamilton Co. Commissioner Mark Heirbrandt were present at the event.
“We have recognized the importance of recognition,” Cook said. “In this society today, we greatly recognize our athletes. We do a mediocre job of recognizing our scholastic achievers, but we found out recognition for those who have overcome obstacles in their life, thrown at them of no fault of their own, becomes heartwarming and endearing to us all.”
After the presentation of plaques and nominators speaking to the crowd, Cook took a moment to thank recently retired superintendent of Westfield Washington Schools Dr. Mark Keen.
“Dr. Keen has just produced an unbelievable product in our school system. He has recently retired, but he and his staff has absolutely made my job so easy in attracted businesses and people to Westfield,” Cook said. “I always ask, ‘Why Westfield?’ Number one is always the quality of the schools.”
Hamilton Co. Superior Judge Steve Nation closed the ceremony and spent time thanking the staff of the school.
“Without our children, whatever our schools are, whatever are businesses are, whatever our communities are, they won’t exist,” Nation said. “Our children are our treasure.”
For more, visit http://youthassistance.org/westfield/.