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Student mentors, leaders, and those who display extraordinary character are the first-ever recipients of the Polaris Awards.
The Brunswick County Schools Parent Advisory Council (PAC) and Commitment to Character Team (CTC) honored 15 students with the Polaris Awards, which were designed to recognize extraordinary character and achievements both in and outside the classroom.
Sharon Amrol-Davis, district PAC president and CTC team chairperson, said these awards were a vision she wanted to make a reality.
One award per school is given, with two to Waccamaw Schools, one for elementary and one for middle school, and two to Brunswick County Academy, one for middle school and one for high school. While only 15 students received awards, more than 40 were nominated.
“This is just a sampling of what came in,” she said of the winners. “But we are ready to do it again next year.”
CTC member District Judge Marion Warren said the students receiving the Polaris Awards are not only an example to their peers but also to the community.
“If children are our future, then these young men and women are our community’s future, and we have a lot to look forward to,” he said.
Meet the 2007-2008 Polaris Award Recipients
Belville Elementary School
“During March, Blake will shave his head to raise money for cancer victims. He has done this for several years,” McLamb said.
Merrill said his uncle was the one who asked if he wanted to help children with cancer, and he said yes. When he shaved his head last year, Blake collected the most money.
Brunswick County Academy
Nominated by Amy Sellers and Kim Robbins
Helping both students and teachers, Adams is a role model, and his teachers felt he needed to be recognized.
“On a daily basis, he offers to help adults and peers alike in opening doors, carrying heavy or even small items, or doing anything he can to help out others,” Robbins said.
Adams said his assistant principal and aunt have influenced his character.
“My aunt has taught me to be patient,” he said. “She said if someone is getting on your nerves to take three deep breaths.”
Brunswick County Academy
Mobley worked with Stanley Opalka, author of "Escape from Russia." Mobley helped create a Power Point to help Opalka share his story about growing up in a concentration camp.
“Johnnie had to interview, research, and read plenty of materials to get a better understanding of World War II from a truly different perspective,” Strickland said.
“He has read books in his free time and embraced the message Mr. Opalka is striving to share with young people. He goes above and beyond to create something unique and share the message of Stanley Opalka.”
Mobley said Opalka directly influenced him, as he now has a better understanding and compassion for people who were forced into concentration camps.
“While I was working with Mr. Opalka, I gained patience and understanding,” he said. “He showed me that in life, if you never give up, then you can never lose.”
Brunswick County Early College High School
Frink was nominated for her leadership and participation in Teen Court, a diversion program for first-time non-violent offenders.
“Jocelyn excelled from the beginning and has become an excellent attorney,” Ansley said. “She honors her commitment by coming prepared and ready to assist in any way needed. She is professional and exemplifies all the attributes necessary for a good citizen and leader in her community.”
Frink said two of the most influential people in her life were her teachers at Shallotte Middle School, Lisa Barnes and Atheda Lusk-Watson. Frink said Barnes was her “light that guided me through the darkest tunnel.
“From the first day she saw me, she told me that there was something special about me,” Frink said.
Lusk-Watson gave Frink advice she said she will never forget.
“Jocelyn, you are a beautiful, smart, talented young lady who has a bright future ahead of you. But to get to where you want to go, you are going to have some tough times that will help you develop strength and character for future trials.”
Jessie Mae Monroe Elementary School
Nominated by Nina March and Crystal McCray
Ramola, a first grader, was nominated for showing her responsibility in caring for her diabetes while keeping a positive attitude.
“Although she has her sugar checked three times a school day to adjust snacks and activities accordingly, she remains upbeat and flexible,” March said. “Even more admirable is her compassion for others in the class.”
Ramola said her mom has helped her cope with the disease.
“She had asthma and her dad taught her not to feel sorry for herself but to make the best of it.”
Leland Middle School
Batts helps a fellow classmate who struggles keeping up with the rest of the class.
“She gets him on the right page, helps him catch up when he lags behind, and never makes him feel ‘less than’,” Blasingaine said. “She has an innate sense of recognizing when others are in need and acts on those needs.”
Batts said her dad has taught her to treat people like they are supposed to be treated.
“And if I see someone needing help to help them,” she said.
Nominated by Ryan Barclay and Robert Grimes
Leggett acts as a mentor to a student with autism. She tutors the student on Wednesdays and helps him with social interaction skills. She was nominated due to the dedication and compassion she shows.
“Sarah exemplifies the type of student we are trying to develop at North Brunswick High School, and we are proud to have her as a part of our school community,” Barclay said. “She is a leader by example and possesses the values of compassion, respect, responsibility, and honesty.”
Legett said her mother has helped build her character, as she is an Exceptional Children’s teacher, and has been able to learn by example.
“I have seen the compassion that she shows toward her students and how dedicated she is to seeing that their educational needs are a top priority,” Leggett said. “I have been inspired to search for ways that I may be of service in my school to individuals with special needs.”
Shallotte Middle School
Davis was nominated for her volunteerism in Teen Court.
“As a volunteer for Teen Court, she makes a stand every day to keep her school and other schools safe and holds her peers responsible for their actions,” Ansley said.
“Alison is dependable, articulate, and makes a stand for justice in her school community. Through her leadership and good example, she inspires other youth to step up and be responsible.
Davis said Ansley has been her biggest influence in wanting to succeed in Teen Court.
“She always has a smile on her face and knows the right thing to say,” Davis said. “I want to be a prosecuting attorney, but if I wouldn’t have gotten into Teen Court, my goal might not be the same.”
Nominated by Linda Coley, Linda Guerrina,
and Katie Horne
Etheridge’s father is undergoing treatment for cancer, and she was nominated because of her strength and determination shown both in and out of the classroom.
“[The nominators] were impressed with Kobi’s dedication to maintaining good grades and improving her knowledge and skill at school even before we learned of her personal struggles,” Coley said. “I have been impressed over and over again by Kobi’s maturity and dedication to improvement.”
Etheridge said her dad is her “hero,” and has influenced her in many ways.
“In spite of him having cancer that eventually caused him to lose his arm, and more recently a battle with cancer in his lungs, he has always kept a positive attitude,” she said. “His sense of humor and his faith in God has helped my family to keep a positive attitude also.”
Nominated by Sarah Levin
McCracken has been involved in performing arts for the past four years at SBHS, and Levin said she has developed respect and tolerance. She has been caring and compassionate to others while developing her own character, Levin said.
“She is always ready, willing, and able to give 110 percent,” Levin said. “She is an amazing human being.
McCracken said Levin has helped her persevere and taught her to never give up.
“She always says ‘I can, I will, I am. Don’t tell me what you can’t do, show me what you can.’”
Nominated by Nancy Bryant
Bryant, a teacher at Supply Elementary, works daily with a student with Asperger’s, a form of autism. Bryant said Vansteen has shown compassion, helpfulness, and kindness toward this student.
“Dalton has gone out of his way to help this student feel welcome,” Bryant said.
“Dalton was the first to volunteer to be his reading partner, the first to bring assignments to my class if my student is having a bad day, the first to ready out and talk to him, and the first to include him in any activity.”
Vansteen said his mother has helped him act kindly and taught him to treat people as he would want to be treated.
Union Elementary School
Nominated by Jill Carter
Benton, a fourth grader, has had students at Union Elementary School create cards for veterans for he past two years. Every major holiday—such as Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Memorial Day—students create cards for the veterans at the Veterans’ Hospital in Fayetteville, and Benton and her great Uncle Tom, a Vietnam veteran, hand delivers the cards and visits with the patients.
“This not only shows that she is a caring and compassionate child, but also that she is very kind, generous, and helpful to others that made it possible to live the life of freedom in our great nation,” Carter said. “She has never been recognized for this kind deed, she never thought of a reward for doing the deed. Her only motivation for this act of compassion and kindness was to make someone know that they are cared about and not forgotten.”
Benton said her Uncle Tom and Aunt Di were the ones who taught her about veterans and why they are important.
Waccamaw School – 8th grade
Nominated by M.C. Hening
Hening nominated Daniels for his active participation in church.
“He’s at church at all the children functions: children’s choir, Sunday school, Praise Team, choir, Bible study, Saturdays baseball—the older he gets, the better,” Hening said.
Daniels said his mother, pastor, and youth supervisor have influenced him to become active and always do his best.
“I feel that I am a better person because of these people,” he said.
Eric Tyler Duke
West Brunswick High School
Nominated by Kimberly Clemmons
Clemmons nominated Duke for showing adversity while facing a difficult situation that affected his entire family.
“Tyler continued to come to school despite the gossip, name-calling, and bullying he had to endure,” Clemmons said. “Tyler could have easily given up and became a negative person. Instead, he comes to school, rarely missing a day, maintains good grades, a positive attitude, and he is very friendly and considerate to others.”
Duke said his parents have had the most influence on his character.
“My mother and father have always been there for me, and they push me to do better at everything I do.”
Waccamaw Elementary School
Nominated by: The Rev. Daniel Wright
Wright nominated Holmes for being an active participant in youth church at Little Prong Myrtle Beach Church.
“He asks questions, answers questions and is very outspoken,” Wright said. “He has taken a tremendous interest in studying the Bible. He is an asset to the class.”
Holmes said his grandmother has helped instill his religious beliefs.
“I stayed with her when my mom was away. She worked with me and my sister and took us to church every Sunday,” he said.