By Polly Keary, Editor
High on the wall of the entry into Hidden River Middle School, six large wooden frames contain what look a bit like scrapbook pages.
Each holds the picture of a student, as well as a collection of objects that reflect an accomplishment of that student.
But those accomplishments didn’t take place at school. That’s the point. The cases are there to recognize kids for things they do outside the classroom, a new project begun at the middle school this month.
Eighth grader Kassie Counsell, 14, is featured in one of the two center frames. She was nominated by the school’s vice principal to be highlighted for her volunteer work at a local nursing home.
Since last June, she has put in 360 volunteer hours at her grandmother’s nursing home, usually stopping by every day after school to talk to residents and help out with activities.
She’s been keeping track of her hours since June, but she’s been volunteering there since she was 9.
At first she just went to see her grandmother. But she enjoyed talking to other residents so much, the staff asked her if she would like to volunteer.
“We play like Phase 10, Yahtzee and 10,000, and last Friday we had Easter tea,” she said. “We set up tables, we put out snacks everywhere and had a huge party.”
She also started helping her grandmother relearn to write after having a stroke, and since then she’s been helping other seniors, too.
“She was up wrapping presents until midnight every night before Christmas,” said Assistant Principal Joe Delp, who nominated her. “She worked 40 hours a week through the summer for free. Her volunteer hours are amazing.”
In the next case over on the wall is the smiling picture of Alan Perez ,14, also in the 8th grade. Next to his picture is one of the medals he won running cross country in a local community team.
Perez never raced before last fall, but when he tried cross country running, he came in second in the final intramural competition of the year.
So a local community team asked him to compete in the Junior Olympics.
“I did a few meets, then went to State and then to Nationals in Albuquerque,” he said. He placed 18th in state and 146th nationally, and thought he could have done better if he’d known how to train.
“I didn’t prepare for the altitude,” he said. “I thought it would be regular, but it was at 7,000 feet.”
The Snohomish team invited him to run track as well, and he’s going to Nationals with them in North Carolina.
The wall cases were made by a man who belongs to the parent-teacher organization and his father. They make it possible for the school to recognize kids for the lives they lead when they aren’t at school, said Delp.
“We had kids missing class for three days and they’d come back, and they’d been at a national dog show, or a national horse show, or participating in whatever,” he said. “I want to recognize kids for things outside school. Some if the best parts of kids is the stuff they do outside of school.”
The cases will change every two weeks or so, and there is now a form kids and staff can fill out to nominate each other for recognition.
Also featured on the wall this week are Emilee Simicich for gymnastics; Mariya Melnichek for volunteering; Teegan Lowe for skiing and Linel Mullendore for horseback riding.