Head of the class: Westfield Youth Assistance Program students honored for their work


Seventeen outstanding Westfield Washington Schools students who have overcome adversity were recognized for their efforts May 1 during the annual Westfield Youth Assistance Program Youth Recognition Breakfast.

The students earned the honor for demonstrating profound, powerful positive changes in their attitudes and behaviors at school or for making extraordinary academic strides at WWS.

Since 2009, WYAP has provided services for WWS students ages 3 to 17, as well as family education programs, to facilitate family growth and development such as workshops, guest speakers and parenting classes. The program assists students who are facing challenging life circumstances by offering programming and mentoring. Students and their families are often referred to the program by the schools, police, court officials or other agencies.

The Westfield program was modeled after the youth assistance program in Oakland County, Mich.

“It takes a very special community to make this happen,” said former Westfield Mayor Andy Cook, who played an instrumental role in starting the program, which is Indiana’s first-ever youth assistance program. “You have to find a working relationship between the community, the police, the schools, the courts and the prosecutor’s office. In most cities that have approached me and said they’d like to do this, they’re never quite able to bridge the gap of putting five bureaucratic government agencies working together, even in the best interest of their children. So, congratulations to the City of Westfield. I’m so proud of what’s going on.”

WYAP mentors are volunteers who are selected specifically to complement the needs of students enrolled in the program.

“I think the most valuable thing we can do as adults is reach out and mentor people, whether it’s adults or whether it’s kids, it’s why we’re here, it’s why we’re educators,” WWS Superintendent Paul Kaiser said. “I just want to thank all of those here who are mentoring, even our students who are mentoring other students. We’re going to make a difference for generations.”

youth assistance speech
Westfield High School senior Brandt Grabowski, who was honored by the WYAP when he was in fourth grade, speaks to the 2024 honorees. (Photo by Marney Simon)

Brandt Grabowski, a senior at WHS and previous honoree of the program, was honored at the breakfast for demonstrating great perseverance and unmatched work ethic.

“Westfield Youth Assistance holds a special place in my heart,” Grabowski said. “With an early diagnosis of dyslexia, ADHD and stuttering, school learning has always been very difficult. Winning this award in fourth grade was not a recognition of my efforts, but validation of the support, encouragement and guidance I received from so many incredible people along the way. To my teachers who believed in me and my family that cheered me on and my friends who motivated me, I owe you all a debt of gratitude. Your belief in my abilities inspired me to work harder and believe in myself.”

Grabowski said his time in WYAP taught him the importance of perseverance and resilience. He plans to attend Taylor University in the fall and said it was the support and encouragement from WYAP that helped him succeed at WWS and beyond.

Additional WYAP services include food, clothing and financial assistance through coordination with the Westfield Washington Township office; general counseling and other mental health resources; camps and recreational opportunities; and tutoring.

WYAP services are voluntary, confidential and are provided at no cost to the family.

Learn more at youthassistance.org/westfield.

WYAP honorees
Seventeen outstanding Westfield Washington Schools students who have overcome adversity were recognized for their efforts during the WYAP recognition breakfast. (Photo courtesy of Westfield Youth Assistance Program)

Westfield Youth Assistance Program Honorees

Students representing all schools within the Westfield Washington School District were chosen by counselors, teachers, principals and other school staff for recognition during the Westfield Youth Assistance Program Youth Recognition Breakfast. The 2024 Honorees are:

  • Abby K., Westfield Middle School
  • Advaith N., Washington Woods Elementary School
  • Alba A., Shamrock Springs Elementary School
  • Bagner C., Westfield Middle School
  • Beckett G., Maple Glen Elementary School
  • Cailee B., Westfield Middle School
  • Clara B., Monon Trails Elementary School
  • Cletus T., Westfield Middle School
  • Jarell E., Washington Woods Elementary School
  • Josue L., Westfield Intermediate School
  • Kenna G., Carey Ridge Elementary School
  • Marc S., Westfield Intermediate School
  • Norah B., Westfield Intermediate School
  • Reagan L., Carey Ridge Elementary School
  • Rosalinda B., Westfield Middle School
  • Xander H., Westfield Intermediate School

The 2024 Christine D. Brown Memorial Scholarship Winner was Reis Middleton of Westfield High School. Middleton is the recipient of a $5,002 scholarship, provided by donors including the Brown family in honor of Christine Brown and the 502 children who she advocated for during her tenure as an Early Intervention Advocate for WYAP.