The students not only are among the top in their class, but show the signs of active community spirit.
Sara Soph, Ottawa High School
Though Key Club Hat Day in the Ottawa school district was a modest success, organizer Sara Soph said, it showed her that students and staff are willing to work together to help others.
Soph, a 2013 graduate of Ottawa High School with a 4.0 grade point average and Magna Cum Laude honors, has been recognized as one of The Herald’s 2013 Citizen Scholars.
“At the Kansas Statewide Key Club convention, I came up with an idea to involve the other USD 290 schools for an activity to help better the community,” Soph, a three-year member and officer of the OHS Key Club, which is affiliated with Kiwanis, said. “The idea was to be called Key Club Hat Day.”
On that day, Soph said, students at the high school and the middle school would be allowed to wear an appropriate hat to school with a donation of 50 cents to $1. The money raised would then be donated to the local East Central Kansas Economic Opportunity Corp., Hope House and Children’s Miracle Network, she said.
“Though the day was not a huge success, it showed me that students and staff are willing to lend a hand and do their part,” Soph said. “This day meant the most to me because I was able to see it start as just an idea and grow into an actual activity.”
“Knowing that I did my part to involve and educate students and staff while also benefitting our community was a great feeling,” she said. “I look forward to many more service projects in the future.”
Soph plans to attend Kansas State University and major in public relations, she said.
“With this education, I hope to one day be a public relations specialist with an emphasis in social media,” Soph said. “My dream job would be to work for a large corporation, such as Facebook or Google, in the public relations department.”
The daughter of Kirby and Susan Soph of Ottawa, Soph said she has been active in the letterman’s O-Club, Key Club, National Honor Society, OHS Cyclonette Dance Team, OHS Lady Cyclone soccer team and Spanish Club.
Some of the activities Soph has been involved in include NHS blood drives, Lincoln Elementary School Play Days, Senior Citizen’s Prom, OHS Garden Care, Key Club Service Day projects, Key Club Hat Day and Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF, through Key Club.
She also has been involved with Sacred Heart Church Youth Group, Youth Action Council, Spotlight Studio Dance, Make a Difference Days, Christmas Dance Shows at local retirement villages, Kiwanis One-Day Service Projects, Childcare of Ottawa Community Church, Veterans Day parades, Sacred Heart school library volunteer, DARE summer camp and McGruff Club.
“Active citizen participation is important to me because in order for a community to function optimally, the citizens must be willing and actively involved,” Soph said. “I know this from personal experience as I have participated in numerous community and group activities. Those groups that are most successful are the ones with committed, active members.”
Soph said the best part of being involved is the sense of community she feels.
“There is nothing better than being with a group of people who are willing to give of their time to achieve a goal — and most importantly, a goal that will help other citizens,” she said.
Active citizenship is a duty Soph said she feels obligated to perform.
“My school, community, city, state and country all provide me with opportunities and privileges, which I feel compelled to show my gratitude for by giving of my time,” she said. “We all benefit when everyone gives of their time and talent.”
Glen Coffman, Ottawa High School
As an Ottawa High School soccer player for four years, Glen Coffman could be seen playing kick-ball and soccer with elementary students as a volunteer for Lincoln Elementary School Play Day.
But that’s just one of the many ways the OHS 2013 graduate has given of his free time to help others. Coffman has been recognized as one of The Herald’s 2013 Citizen Scholars.
“For the past two years, I have participated in Make a Difference Day, doing assorted community service programs throughout the community,” Coffman, 18, son of David Coffman and Rhonda Coffman, said. “And in the past two years, I have taught third-graders [about agriculture] at the annual Day on the Farm attended by all the local elementary schools.”
A member of FFA for three years, serving as chapter secretary and treasurer the past two years, Coffman said he has attended the national and state FFA conventions, including being a state delegate for two years.
“I have participated in numerous career development events through FFA at the district, regional and state levels,” he said.
A National Honor Society member for two years, Coffman graduated from OHS with a 4.0 grand point average, with Summa Cum Laude honors. Coffman said he plans to major in engineering, with a minor in leadership studies and French, at Kansas State University.
“I would like to work in the engineering field all over the globe,” he said.
A member of 4-H for 12 years, holding all the officer positions in his club, Coffman said he has been a leader at the annual 4-H Day Camp for many years.
“I have participated in several different projects through 4-H, including horses and photography,” Coffman said, “and have competed at the state fair in those areas. There are many activities that I have participated in with my 4-H club, including singing Christmas Carols to people at the retirement home and riding in parades. I traveled with a 4-H group on the Citizenship Washington Focus trip to Washington, D.C.”
Working as a ranch hand for Judd Ranch the past three years, Coffman said he performs a variety of tasks.
“I mow lawns, rake hay, clip and clean bulls, maintain buildings, clean working facilities [and other chores],” he said.
Coffman, who helped clean up Harveyville after it was hit by a tornado, said active citizenship is important because it means helping others.
“The world is a much friendlier and pleasant place when you put others before yourself,” Coffman said.
Ariel Lambert, Central Heights High School
Ariel Lambert said her four years of student council weren’t just to look good on college applications.
“I want to continue the student government into college and see how I can better the community and school I attend,” Lambert, a graduating senior at Central Heights High School, said. “I have enjoyed my leadership role this year and will feel better about leaving knowing I tried my best to get more done for the school and find ways to get the students involved.”
Along with being student council president, Lambert also was a member of Central Heights Fellowship, Spanish Club, Forensics/Theater, Big Brothers Big Sisters, National Honor Society, Kansas Honors Program, Track and a member of the cheer and dance teams. Of all those groups, her membership in Ruhamuh Edge Youth Group has made the most impact on her, she said.
“I’ve been a member since middle school, but have been more active in high school,” she said. “The Ruhamuh Edge Youth Group is a home away from home and I’m so grateful for the leaders who have helped mold me in Christ and answered my many questions.”
Lambert is humble about the work her youth group has done to help the community saying, “It’s never a donation opportunity, but rather a good Samaritan opportunity.”
For someone who considers herself goal-oriented, Lambert said, she’s unsure of her future plans.
“I’ve always been a doer and completer,” she said. “I know what I want to do, I just don’t know where I want to do it.”
Her experience in student council helping others has shown her she should get a degree in communications, she said. Now, it’s just a matter of choosing a school to fit her needs.
“I’m down to the wire,” she said. “But I’ve at least narrowed it down. Emporia State University or Allen County Community College are my top choices.”
Nastasja Carlson, Central Heights High School
“Active citizenship allows for different interests to serve different needs,” Nastasja Carlson said. “This form of cooperation helps the ‘world go ’round.’”
A member of Cross-Country, robotics, band, Drama Club and track, to name a few, Carlson, a graduating senior at Central Heights High School, said her participation in the Masonic Marching Band has been the most rewarding.
“Members of the band collect stuffed animals for the children at the Shriner’s Hospital,” she said. “We also participate in several programs that help raise awareness of what the Shriner’s Hospital does for children.”
Carlson said she’s volunteered at retirement facilities, libraries and hospitals, but the community’s need are wide and varied.
“A community, whether thinking locally or globally, depends on the individuals who live in it,” she said. “The needs of a community are numerous and varied. Active citizenship is heavily relied upon to meet those particular needs.”
To help meet the needs of the community and raise awareness for Shriner’s Hospital, Carlson said, the Masonic Marching Band participates in a variety of activities.
“The band performs at the half-time of the Shrine Bowl, which raises money for the Shriner’s Hospital,” she said. “Masonic Marching Band was the most meaningful community service to me. I met children and adults, who as children, received service from the hospital.”
Carlson said she plans to attend Fort Hays State University to receive a Master of Science degree in speech-language pathology.
Mitchell Walters, West Franklin High School
“To be a great leader, you have to be able to work with others and show dedication to the community,” Mitchell Walters said.
Walters, a graduating senior at West Franklin High School has been a tri-athlete for his entire high school career, participating in baseball, basketball and football, and knows what it takes to be a leader among a team and community.
Walters is a three-time Flint Hills League all-league selection for offensive line/defensive line in football, as well as a two-time Ottawa Herald all-area selection for offensive line/defensive line, he said.
Though much of his time was spent playing sports, Walters also was a member of the Future Business Leaders of America and a chapter president for the National Honor Society. He also had time to take part in Future Business Leaders of America, where he said his community service meant the most to him.
“The community service activity that is most important to me is the community clothing drive that our FBLA organization did this past winter,” he said. “In this project, we first helped Appanoose PTO with their fall clothing drive. Then our chapter collected clothes to set up a closet for the Williamsburg community. The whole district helped in donating clothes and we collected over 850 items of clothing.”
After finishing the clothing drive, he said, his chapter donated the extra clothing to LifeCare Center and Hope House in Ottawa.
“This project was presented at the state FBLA contest where we took first and earned the right to take the contest to nationals,” he said. “Being a chair of this committee, I have learned a great deal about people struggling in our community and more.”
Upon graduating, Walters said, he plans to attend Baker University and major in engineering.
While attending Baker, Walters said, he plans to play baseball.
Seth Bollinger. West Franklin High School
Seth Bollinger said he hopes his career path will allow him to travel the world some day.
“My ultimate goal is to become a marine biologist,” Bollinger, a graduating senior at West Franklin High School said. “And possibly travel the world researching new ways to help preserve our ocean habitats and the animals that call the ocean home.”
Bollinger said he plans to attend the University of Kansas after graduating and major in marine biology.
During his high school career, he’s been a member of Future Business Leaders of America, Scholar’s Bowl, Family Career and Community Leaders of America, Choir, Track, Band, Forensics, the golf team and jazz band. He also has worked on community service projects like the blood drive, Bikers for Babies, the food drive, March of Dimes and the Future Business leaders of America clothing drive.
He said the most impactful community service project he worked on during high school was the Future Business Leaders of America clothing drive.
“We had an abundance of clothing donations which were offered to the communities of Pomona, Appanoose and Williamsburg,” he said. “We collected over 855 clothing items.”
The clothes were dispersed throughout Pomona, Appanoose and Williamsburg as well as to the LifeCare Center of Franklin County and Hope House, he said.
“ ... No matter how small you think you are in this big world, you can have a huge impact on your community, nation or even world,” he said. “Active citizenship is important to me.”
Alecxander Watson, Wellsville High School
Engaging in one’s community isn’t merely a nice thought for Alecxander Watson.
It’s a duty, the 17-year-old and soon-to-be Wellsville High School graduate said.
“Being an active citizen in my community is extremely important to me,” Watson said. “I believe that is the duty of people in a more stable position to help others to try and improve their life. If you have the means to improve someone else’s life, you need to. There is no point in dying a rich and talented person when it could have be used to better the world you live in.”
While maintaining at 3.98 GPA at Wellsville High School, Watson said he worked with the school’s National Honor Society, Future Business Leaders of America, choir, math team, scholar’s bowl and as a Eagle Lift-Off mentor.
Watson also volunteers with the Wellsville United Methodist Church youth group and the church’s Vacation Bible School.
Among his volunteer activities, Watson said he most enjoyed working with his Future Business Leaders of America during a service event with the Special Olympics. In addition to meeting new friends, the event helped to teach him the value of community service, he said.
“At first, I was not entirely thrilled to do it, but knew it was something that I needed to do,” Watson said. “By the end of the say my entire view of the situation has changed. ... Once the games started going, I realized how much fun each of these people were having. By the end, I had made three new friends. ... After doing this event, it finally occurred to me how much community service can help someone else. It is not always about the physical act you are doing — it is about the time and effort you are putting toward someone else.”
Watson said he plans to pursue a degree in chemical engineering from Kansas State University.
Cassie Marie Enright, Wellsville High School
A baby-sitting gig for one soon-to-be Wellsville High School graduate appears to have paved the way to her career plans in health care.
After caring for a youngster with cerebral palsy, Cassie Enright said the experience not only taught her to count her blessings but also informed her career aspirations.
“For the past two years, I have had the incredible privilege to baby-sit a child with cerebral palsy,” Enright, 18, Wellsville, said. “From that experience, my life has truly been forever changed. It is vitally important to remember the easily overlooked blessings that are so kindly given. ... It is important to maintain a positive attitude.”
Maintaining a 3.83 GPA while attending Wellsville High School, Enright also was involved with many school and extracurricular actives during her time as an Eagle. Enright was a four-year member of the Eagle Activity Council, Future Business Leaders of America, Kansas Association for Youth, as well as Wellsville’s softball team and yearbook staff. Enright also served two years as a 2013 class officer, and was a part of Wellsville’s National Honor Society, Scholars Bowl, Art Club, Math Team and was a two-year Eagle Lift-Off mentor.
In service to her community, Enright helped to carry out the Children’s Movie Night, Worlds of Fun Volunteer Day, Special Olympics and Angel Tree Shopping. In addition, Enright said she’s volunteered with Christmas Cards for Troops, blood drives, Night of Need and Wellsville’s concession stands.
Enright said she hopes to enter into a career in health care, and now is completing courses to become a certified nursing assistant through Neosho County Community College. After completing the necessary courses, Enright said, she plans to complete a pre-nursing program at Kansas State University and then will transfer to an accredited nursing school.
“Ultimately, I understand that in order to be successful, I must work my way to the top through hard work and dedication,” Enright said. “I am ready for the challenge.”