BY PHIL CUSTODIO
Clarkston News Editor
Five students were honored with Clarkston Area Optimist Club Outstanding Student Citizen awards, April 24: Amy Coomer from Clarkston High School; Keegan Wasilk from Clarkston Junior High; Kiley Gallagher of Sashabaw Middle School; Katie Miller of Clarkston Elementary; and Makayla Butki of Springfield Plains Elementary.
“I see these kids sitting here, all great, great people,” said CHS Principal Gary Kaul. “Where does that come from? Does it come from the fact that you’re just naturally good people? A lot of these kids have a tendency to walk in, and they’re smiling all the time. They make everybody’s lives better. They just naturally do that. But then you see these great families that are sitting here. I think it’s a little bit of both.”
Katie Miller represents what Clarkston Elementary is all about, said Principal Brian Adams.
“Katie is a very special young lady,” Adams said. “It doesn’t matter when you see Katie, she has that smile on.”
She showed her strength when recovering from a serious accident last summer, he said.
“I knew in my heart and in my mind, there was no question this young lady was going to be okay, because she is destined to do great things,” he said. “She does great things around my building every day.”
Her teachers visited her regularly in the hospital and were impressed with her positive attitude. When she returned to school, she ran into her classroom, said teacher Kelly Fuller.
“Well, I was just so happy to get back to school and my friends again. And it was just so much fun to see everyone,” Miller said. “I’ve always tried to push through because I knew I could do it. And so I always try to work hard and like the Optimists Creed says, ‘I always try to look for the greater achievements in the future.’”
Makayla Butki is a quiet optimist and a quiet leader, said SPE Principal Matthew Gifford.
“Makayla exemplifies the Springfield Plains mission statement to love, learn and lead by setting a good example for younger students, and for looking out for others,” Gifford said.
She serves on the student leadership team, service squad, leads kindergarteners to the bus every day, and is active in sports.
“I like being with the kindergartners and doing a lot for them,” Butki said. “It just makes me stay positive. I know if I keep doing this. I will have a positive future.”
She is also s a math enthusiastic, Gifford said.
“She’s really interested in the dynamics of math,” he said.
“I just like having to try to solve the problems. It’s fun to just kind of get it,” Butki said.
The students brings out the best in all around her, said teacher Megan Leichtnam.
“Within my classroom if there is any person who can always bring out the best in others, lead by example, put her best foot forward, and persevere through any challenge, that person is Makayla,” Leichtnam said. “Makayla is not only someone I can count on each day, but she is someone that her friends and classmates can count on.”
When deciding who to select for this award, Kiley Gallagher quickly rose to the top of the list, said Elizabeth Walker, Sashabaw Middle School principal
“She truly exemplifies the Optimist Creed, especially ‘To wear a cheerful countenance at all times’ and ‘give every living creature you meet a smile,’” Walker said.
Her teachers say she embraces life on a daily basis, and is the kind of student who can simply change anyone’s day with a single interaction, she said.
“It’s always a joy to see kind of zest for life and how she approaches the simplest things,” Walker said. “She is a daughter, a friend, a sister, and a student, and so much more. She is that once-in-a-career student.”
Staying positive in school helps her get good grades and makes her family happy, said Gallagher, who hopes to study physical therapy and play volleyball in college.
“I get good grades so I can have a positive future,” she said.
Keegan Wasilk is a hard working, talented young man on the basketball court, and also one of the kindest, most respectful students in all the schools, said Adam Kern, Clarkston Junior High principal
“He is very dedicated in all that he does. He works hard at continuously improving no matter what he’s working on,” Kern said. “This is a young man who understands the importance of having good character, and this stands out from all of our students. He remains very humble.”
“It’s other people’s influence on me and seeing other standouts in sports in school, I just have to remain humble to show that I’m respectful to other people, and I don’t only care about me and myself, I care about other people as well,” Wasilk said.
“My biggest influences are definitely my parents (Kim and Chris) and my brothers (Chase and Jaden) because I’ve looked up to them my whole life so far.”
His teachers and coaches said he is a wonderful student, extremely trustworthy, kind, helpful, leader, positive influence around peers, and great all around kid with a bright future, Kern said.
“He is as outstanding a man on and off the court,” the principal said.
The teachers of Amy Coomer have been consistently impressed with her dedication and work ethic, challenging herself throughout her academic career, Kaul said.
“Emails started flooding in about what a good person she was,” he said. “We’re very, very happy to honor you.”
Coomer takes college prep courses, and was admitted to A World Of Difference, a course promoting a positive school culture; Junior Optimist International Executive Board; and Tim Hortons Children’s Foundation Youth Advisory Council
She is also a tutor and student liaison for Clarkston Area Youth Assistance, and represents the Tri County area of the Girls State Conference sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary.
“She represents everything that’s good about our school system,” Kaul said.
“I think it’s important we spend our time helping others,” said Coomer, who started community service in sixth grade with the Clarkston United Methodist Church youth group. “There is nothing more important than dedicating yourself to helping people. That is like my life’s mission. That is what I want to do. That is what I love to do. So that’s why I spent hours and hours and hours doing it.”
She’s going to Eastern Michigan University in the fall, looking to study social work.
“I want to help kids in the same way adults have been able to help me, just help them put their best foot forward,” she said.
BY PHIL CUSTODIO