On the Beat in Bluffton

Friday, May 9, 2014

4 students honored for change in grades, attitudes at school

Four Wells County high school students received $1,000 scholarships for post-secondary education Thursday afternoon as Bluffton Mayor Ted Ellis presented his annual Turnaround Awards.
Each student was introduced during the ceremony, and the program provided a brief biography of each of them as well. Learn more in the Friday, May 9, News-Banner.

Lincoln Penrod (Bluffton High School)
I got to know Lincoln very early during my time here at Bluffton, the very first day of school. Lincoln was a sophomore in my homeroom class and from the start he and I did not really see eye to eye. There were a number of days where we butted heads, me wanting him to work, him wanting to put his head down and take a nap, it got to the point that I was dreading having Lincoln in class the following semester. Then things began to change. After we came back from Christmas break Lincoln was almost a different person, he began to look me in the eye when he talked, he turned in all of his homework on time and fully completed. By the end of the year he was performing at a level far beyond what I had expected of him and his attitude had shifted from one that I trouble with to one that could contribute to the overall wellbeing of the class. Lincoln went from failing half of his classes his freshman year to having a B- average due to his effort and commitment to his education. Lincoln plans on going to Ivy Tech in the fall to study welding. It is for these reasons that I think Lincoln Penrod should win the Turnaround award.
Brent Kunkel,
BHS History Teacher

Devo Johnson-Ortiiz (Wells County Alternative School)
Devo is a senior who will be graduating from Bluffton High School. During his first two and a half years of high school, Devo’s grades were mostly Ds and Fs. He had also received quite a few discipline referrals. Devo didn’t care about school; he didn’t see the value in it. We were apprehensive about his attending the Alternative School and not at all sure he would even make it through the first grading period. Devo attended the Alternative School for one year, then returned to Bluffton High School to finish out his senior year. During his time at the Alternative School, we began to see gradual changes in him. He began to apply himself to his academics and brought his grades up to As, Bs, and Cs. He also set some long-term goals for himself and set about accomplishing them.

People who know Devo now can clearly see that he is not the same person he was just a few years ago. He has grown in maturity and character and it will be a pleasure to see what he accomplishes in the future. He plans to attend IVY Tech in the fall and eventually transfer to a larger university.

Shana Hicks (Southern Wells High School)Early in her years at our school, Ms. Shana Hicks would agree that she had a difficult time with us. The school was a challenge to her. And in turn, she was a challenge to Southern Wells. It must be said, Ms. Hicks has, and always had, the skills to be a good student. She could be a student when she wanted to be. But too often, she struggled in the classroom, academically and behaviorally. There were times when she would not engage in her own education. One such example of her non-engagement was how she dealt with her graduation/post high school plan. She did not want to participate in this activity. Shana Hicks could become fairly oppositional when confronted with those things that did not matter to her.

Fast-forward 2 years.....

Shana Hicks graduated a semester ahead of her classmates. She completed all the requirements and has moved forward. Last week she shared her personal plan. Shana clearly articulated what’s next for her. Shana has a career focus in the health field. She is looking to complete her Certified Nursing Assistant credential. And after that she will complete other specific certifications leading her to LPN and/or RN Degrees. To get this career focus accomplished, Shana aims to balance: Completing the education and requirements for these certifications. Working more or less full time and most importantly, taking care of her family.
Shana Hicks was an easy decision for our recognition committee; clearly, she has turned around. She will bring honor to your program as she moves forward bringing honor to herself and family.

Ashley Madej (Norwell High School)
During her first two years of high school, Ashley Madej had significant difficulties with her grades and her behavior. We would see her in the office frequently. Since then, however, she has made a dramatic turn around. Her behavior has become positive and constructive, and she has worked diligently to recover lost credits. We still see her in the office frequently, but now it is because she is an office assistant. We are all impressed with the changes she has made.

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