Credit Where it’s Due

Dec. 15-21, 2005
Credit Where it’s Due
By Claudia Mathis/ SUN staff writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
Bishop Ludden Junior/Senior High School Initiates Student of the Month Program

When John Bruzdzinski began working as assistant principal of Bishop Ludden Junior/Senior High School last July, he realized that something should be done to recognize the efforts of the students at the school. “There so many good things that are going on here — we had to start recognizing what our students are doing,” said Bruzdzinski. “After 22 years of working at the Boys and Girls Club, I had lots of experience at valuing the attributes of youth. One of the cardinal rules for the staff at the Boys and Girls Clubs was to build up the youth’s self esteem. It reinforced my drive to recognize the efforts of the students.”

Bruzdzinski immediately set about organizing the Student of the Month program. He sent a memo to teachers, counselors, library staff and the staff in the resource department, asking them to nominate one or two students to be honored as the student of the month. Nominations were to be based on a student’s character, amount of cooperation, improvement in grades or behavior, personal growth and effort. Bruzdzinski distributed nomination forms, asking them to describe in 100 words or less why they thought the student should be nominated. “I told them this was a celebration — a chance to put the students on a pedestal,” said Bruzdzinski.

When the nomination forms were completed, Bruzdzinski consulted with the moderator of each class to determine which students would be selected. Two students were selected from each grade level. Brandon Whitney and Clare Morgan were chosen from the seventh grade. Ellie Law and Arielle Kaigler-Hall were honored among the eighth-graders. Stacey Lawrence and Harmony Cross were recognized among the ninth-graders. Eleventh-graders Ryan Ross and Kelly Ryan were honored, as well as twelfth-graders Caleigh Weatherup and Peter Slowik.

The students who were chosen were taken completely off-guard when they found out they had won. On Nov. 30, 12 students were notified during their classes that they had won the nomination for student of the month. Bruzdzinski came into the classes in which the students were attending and explained why they were being recognized. Then, they were each given a plaque. “This program has been very well-received,” remarked Bruzdzinski. “Of the 12 students, two cried. They were very touched.”

Ellie Law was excited when she learned of her recognition. She received a plaque because she is an A student, is involved in campus ministry and her exemplary performance in sports. Ellie thinks the Student of the Month program is inspiring to students. “It’s really good because kids are going to want to do better in school and serve as a role model,” said Ellie. Peter Slowik was also distinguished as a student of the month. “When I found out, I was sitting in my philosophy class,” said Peter. “I was pretty surprised. My classmates were pretty happy for me, and they gave me a round of applause.”

Peter was recognized because of the effort he had put forth to earn good grades. He was also commended because of his positive attitude and the courtesy he shows to his teachers. “I think the new program will really help,” said Peter. “It’ll help the student body to do better in school.” Caleigh Weatherup was honored as student of the month for several reasons. She had developed “Lights of Ludden,” a peer-mentoring program in which seniors, juniors and sophomores help incoming seventh graders adjust to school when they enter school in September.

Caleigh was also recognized for her willingness to help her fellow students in their studies. “I was surprised and very excited when I learned that I had won,” said Caleigh. “I was in my classroom, watching a movie, when they interrupted the movie to make the announcement. I was glad for the opportunity to be recognized, and also for the opportunity for the other students to be recognized. I’m glad they developed a program that recognizes students’ accomplishments in areas other than sports. It’s a very cool program.”

For Kelly Ryan, being student of the month feels wonderful. “When I found out, I felt proud — I felt like I had accomplished something,” said Kelly. “My mom was thrilled and happy about it.” Kelly was recognized for the way she handled her father’s death last January. She was commended for the strength she exhibited when she came back to school two days later and offered to help other students who were dealing with a death in their family. “I think it’s a good program,” remarked Kelly. “It’s a way of recognizing people for the other good things they do — people who don’t have really good grades.”

The next presentation of the Student of the Month awards will be held at the monthly Mass at the school. Bruzdzinski has arranged for the honored students to receive a green-framed certificate and a Bishop Ludden tee shirt at the presentation. “I’d like to make these students feel very special,” said Bruzdzinski.

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