BY PHIL CUSTODIO
Clarkston News Editor
The Clarkston Area Optimists Club honored three Outstanding Student Citizens, Jesse Hayduk of North Sashabaw Elementary School, Kennedy Bailey of Bailey Lake Elementary, and Cece Schemmel of Pine Knob Elementary.
Jesse Hayduk said he works hard in school because it’s best for his future, and he most likes whatever he learns each day.
“I think it’s a really big honor, ” said the fifth grader, who attended the March 27 Optimist breakfast meeting with his father, Jesse Hayduk Sr., and grandma, Lois Flores. Jesse exemplifies the Optimist Creed of striving for excellence in self and others, said his teacher, Mitch Phillips.
“Even as a young man, Jesse is strong, and his conviction is optimistic about life,” Phillips said. “He wants the best for others and sees the best in others. Jesse is a hard worker, always with a smile, greeting people around him.”
He’s also resilient, facing adversities in life undeterred.
“Earlier in the year, I was looking for two students to assist me with a younger student who is routinely struggling with appropriate behavior on the bus,” his teacher remembered. “Jesse didn’t just take this on as he was expected. He did more. Jesse took ownership of this partnership, and wanted this young boy to be successful.”
Kennedy Bailey is the first volunteer to assist others and goes out of her way to spread kindness and joy, said Glenn Gualtieri, her principal.
“Kennedy has a contagious smile – it’s one of those smiles that you see as soon as she walks in the door,” Gualtieri said. “My favorite attribute of Kennedy is her ability to provide a voice for those that need to be heard. She’s an advocate for equity.”
“I’m extremely excited and happy,” said Kennedy, who was there with her parents Miranda and Chris Bailey, her sister Reagan, and brother Jackson.
She works hard in school because she knows it pays off.
“I just really love it. It’s not easy, but it challenges me,” she said.
Her favorite job is kindergarten bus helper, and her main interests at school are math and making connections with people. Outside of school, she enjoys playing the piano, making arts and crafts, hanging out with family, and walking the neighbor’s dog, which she does as a kindness, not for compensation. In the future, she aspires to become a teacher.
Kennedy epitomizes the word “optimist,” said Christina Secord, teacher.
“At such a young age, she has the ability to see the good in everyone. Her heart is so full of God’s love,” Secord said. “Her compassion can be seen when she is serving as a Girl Scout and participating in church events. She has a beautiful voice and is involved in Clarkston Idol.”
She truly wants everyone to feel like part of the team.
“Kennedy is an absolute pleasure to have in class,” Secord said. “While completing all of the school assignments and duties, she does so with a joyful and positive attitude. This can be seen especially when she is working with younger students. Every Monday she looks forward to meeting with her first grade book buddy. She makes sure to use our time wisely to listen to her book buddy read and picks a book a picture book to read to her book buddy.”
Cece Schemmel truly deserves the award due to her optimistic attitude, love of learning, and willingness to help, said her teacher Heidi Wright.
“She is an optimistic, intelligent and extremely kind young lady,” Wright said. “She comes to school each day with a positive attitude and a smile on her face. She is curious and creative, and has a love of learning. Cece is a hard worker who consistently gives her best effort in everything she does. Cece is also a model classroom citizen who always sets a positive example for her peers.”
She especially enjoys the experiments and activities in science class, and works hard in school to help her get into college, where she wants to study education to be teacher.
“My sister wants to be a teacher, and I like to play school – it’s fun being the teacher,” said Cece, who was there with her parents Tom and Kim Schemmel.
Cece is a role model to other students, peer mentor, and speaker of the class government House of Representatives, Wright said.
“In this role, she guides her classmates through the process of writing, debating, and passing bills to help make our classroom a great place to learn,” her teacher said. “She never hesitates to help others, and is always supportive and encouraging toward her classmates. Cece is consistently recognized by staff members as being a leader at our school.”
The Clarkston Area Optimists Club presents Outstanding Student Citizen awards to one student per Clarkston-area school per year, honoring those who demonstrate exceptional traits and values attributed to being a responsible, compassionate and caring leader.