REACHING FOR THE STARS

Reaching for the Stars

By Michelle Ochsner

From kindergarten to high school, Meridian students use this time to develop specific life skills that will set them apart from the conventional. They incorporate personal aptitudes to stand out beyond the norm, becoming something extraordinary and special as dreams become their reality. Intermittently, a child in a state of amazement excels beyond mediocrity and overcomes today’s lifestyle, social, and economical challenges.  These three students are such people.

Izabella Toney is many things; boring is not one of them. This energetic fifth-grader has attended Ustick Elementary since second grade and imposes a lasting impression on anyone who meets her.

At the top of her class, Izabella has invariably had a sense of direction. With her mother’s help, she’s writing her first young adult novel and is an aspiring artist with a particular interest in animals. Since memory serves, she has decided to be a Marine Biologist dedicating her life to working with sharks and saving marine habitats.  “I’ve always loved animals, especially sea creatures. Someday I’d like to go to Scripps College in San Diego and maybe study and take pictures of sharks. But Zoology is interesting too. I plan to volunteer at Zoo Boise and the Boise Aquarium when I’m old enough.”

With added responsibility at school, Izabella assists the resource room aiding first graders with reading, is a volunteer assistant in the school office, and helps special needs students with class activities. On her personal time, she’s been committed to raising money for the American Heart Association.  It’s no surprise that she received an Integrity Award from teacher, Mrs. Lewis. “She puts others before herself and is always there for them. Izabella makes good choices regardless of the situation.”

Brooke Danae, a beautiful brown-eyed girl whose ambition is larger than life. A sixth-grader at Lewis and Clark, she has surmounted what could have been a debilitating learning disability. Classified as an inefficient learner due to memory inadequacies, she has more than proved otherwise.

Extremely organized, she’s an accomplished perfectionist which has set her above educational standards. With no special treatment from educators, Brooke has taught herself how to process information with an intense motivation to always do better as she plays with ideas. She has a unique ability to adapt.

Once Brooke sets a goal, there isn’t anything she’s not able to succeed in doing. “I don’t like any one thing to be disorganized. School work, orchestra, or helping at home; it has to be done right.”

Always seeking opportunities to learn, Brooke’s intellectual curiosity to acquire and understand facts is proof that a strong will and determination can carry out the impossible. With a 3.0 average, she has received praise from educators not only for her grades but her compassion for others as well. Her parents, Fred & Shell, are exceedingly proud of her. “She is an astonishing and brave soul. Brooke is

the type of person who will reach out to the person who has no one to sit with at lunch to make sure they are alright. She comforts those who are bullied and is a genuine friend.”

She actively participates in raising money for charities such as the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, and the Susan Komen Foundation. In August 2011, Brooke received the Youth of the Summer Award at summer camp for assisting counselors with various responsibilities such as organizing activities and cleaning the grounds.

With a clever smile Brooke gives the impression of perhaps one day working as a designer; either in fashion or interior styling. “I haven’t chosen a career yet because I’m still exploring my strengths and concentrating on my current classes. I love fashion and I’m good at decorating.”

Six-footer Hanah Christensen makes school look easy.  A natural leader, this eleventh grader is in pursuit of opportunity with a purpose. Her academic success is a result of good morals, intense work ethic, and uncompromising ambition. At seventeen, Hanah’s positive influence on others is to lead by example. An impressive listener, she volunteers to help and support those who are coping with personal crises. “My true passion is definitely helping people.”

Hanah’s earned several scholastic awards including the Presidential Academic Award from President George Bush, and she’s been an honor roll student since middle school. “I’m really proud of this because no matter how hard or stressful things get, I still give school my all. I know that it’s important to keep up and one day all my hard work will pay off.”

An astute writer, Hanah’s given additional projects and tasks from her Graphics Art Teacher, Ms. Frei, and English teacher, Mr. Edwards, that encourage Hanah to be more productive and become a better writer.  Excelling in English and Math, she aspires to major in English.  “Perhaps one day I’ll become a teacher.”

Independent as she is smart, Hanah enjoys her current part-time job working as a Hostess at Johnny Carinos. “My mom, Tesa, has also made me the independent person I am today. She’s given me responsibilities, such as paying for my car, gas, and such that have helped me become self-sufficient. It’s taught me to work for what I want.”

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