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Southfield-Lathrup Optimist Club Honors Success in Students (video)

Southfield-Lathrup Optimist Club Honors Success in Students (video)gallowaycollens1

The teens honored by the Southfield-Lathrup AM Optimist Club as Students of the Month for December and January had good reasons to be proud. “These are our best and brightest, but the best and brightest is not always based on a GPA score. It may be overcoming a major life struggle and still saying ‘I’m being my best,’” explained Optimist Club President George Chapp. Chapp is also Director of Secondary Education, Partnerships & Virtual Learning at Southfield seed015_kathryn_balcerPublic Schools.

The Optimist Club gives an award each month to one student from each of Southfield’s four high schools as part of their mission to support young people in their pursuit of education.

Kennedy Henderson of University High School was student of the month for December. Her guidance counselor Harry Patton called her “trustworthy, outgoing, diligent in her studies,” and recognized her for being part of National Honor Society and Wish Upon a Teen.

“Because our college preparatory program requires problem-solving skills, critical thinking skills, and increased work load, some students become stressed and frustrated. However, Kennedy has remained level-headed and focused the entire time,” Patton said.

Judy_Palmer30years“During her junior year, Kennedy had to deal with many health problems, some of which caused her to miss several consecutive weeks of school. I was very impressed with her resilience and ability to keep her grades up in those unfortunate circumstances.”

Henderson used Facetime to view lectures, and coordinated with teachers and other students to continue learning through her struggle. “The way she handles adversity is remarkable,” her counselor said.

Jayme Ham of University High School has also impressed her counselors.

“Jayme has maintained a good rapport with all the staff and all the students as well. Over the past few years, Jayme’s grades have improved tremendously. Ironically they improved as she enrolled in more rigorous classes. It seemed like yesterday Jamie was looking for strategies to Ferndale 115_FFLmaneuver through the pits, the bumps and miry swamps of algebra one. Now she’s enrolled in the most difficult math class available to high schools students: advanced placement calculus. And she’s doing well! When I noticed that Jamie’s senior year was reaching the 3.5gpa mark and above I said I have to recognize her remarkable improvement,” Patton said. He added “I wish I could give a parent an award. Mr. Ham is an awesome parent, let me just say.”

Joshua French of Southfield Academic Regional Campus went from having one passion, to being a leader for others. Chapp read aloud the recommendation that French’s counselor had submitted. “This is a story about a young man who loved to play basketball. The only thing on his mind was basketball. Eventually his urge to play basketball was stronger than his urge to go to school. At one point during his 9th grade year in Georgia, this young man would leave school sidebar016growearly every day just to play basketball. Did this young man become a better basketball player? Absolutely. At a young age this man was being scouted by Tennessee, Georgia State University, Iowa Central to name a few. Now imagine how this young man felt when these college scouts told him their time was wasted because he had too many failing grades.

“When a young person lacks self-discipline than it is necessary for adult intervention to occur. Everything related to basketball was taken away from this young man for him to learn how important getting good grades and a good education meant.

“Joshua presents at grade level presentations, works with other students, is an active member of the Principal’s Leadership Council. Joshua shares his journey with underclassmen. He offers MBREW draft oneencouragement and gives advice. Joshua has innate leadership qualities. More importantly he leads by example. Is Joshua a gifted basketball player? Absolutely. Has Joshua been on the honor roll every card-marking this year? Absolutely.”

Robert Holmes of Southfield Lathrup “is an inspiration to all,” said the counselor who nominated him. “He radiates enthusiasm in everything he pursues, is well-liked by students and staff, is always positive and smiling.

“Every time I meet with him I am more amazed by his positive energy, student involvement, volunteering services, and academic achievement. Robert was born with a spinal defect. After undergoing two surgeries, Robert taught himself how to walk again.”

Holmes has been very active. He’s been the Executive Class Board President for three years and lisa schmidt lawwas the Vice President his freshman year. He’s in National Honor Society, Symphonic Band, Wheelchair Basketball Team and Church Board Member for six years. He’s also volunteered at South Oakland Shelter and Evergreen Living Center. He is ranked 14th in his class with a 3.60 gpa. His goal is to walk without the assistance of a cane.

Alabbas Alaamili of Southfield Lathrup has shouldered a big responsibility in his life. His counselor wrote “Alabbas has always struck me as a very contentious and attentive young man. His concern and responsibility to his work are beyond refute.

“What inspires me most is his commitment to his family, especially his mother. He lost his father at a young age when he was killed in Iraq. This was incredibly difficult for him. His family HowesLocationimmigrated here to try and have a better life. His mother has worked hard to provide for Alabbas and his brother. Alabbas knows this and he wants to make his mother proud. He is constantly working to better himself. One way he’s accomplished this is by receiving the Wayne McCreed Scholarship to the University of Michigan.”

Other students recognized, but not in attendance, were Victoria Hope of Southfield High School and Rannisha Mills of Southfield Regional Academic Campus.

The students and their families were treated to breakfast and received certificates for their achievement. Optimists are friends of youth who volunteer all year long to “Bring Out The Best In Kids” in the communities that they serve. For more on the Southfield-Lathrup AM Optimist Club see their Facebook page at






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