An Elm Middle School student was among the winners of this year's School Citizen of the Year (SCOTY) Award, which recognizes students who have been chosen by their schools as "good school citizens and models for other to emulate."
Elm's honoree was 7th grader Nicole Taha.
The SCOTY Awards are given each year by West40, a nonprofit educational service center that provides support services to school districts in western Cook County.
Only 97 students from a West40 student population of 87,000 were selected for the 2019 awards. The students were honored Tuesday, April 16, during a ceremony held at West Leyden High School in Northlake.
Five other District 401 students were also recognized with SCOTY Awards: Alyssa Anderson and Gianna Velazquez, Elmwood Elementary School; Petr Malina and Zalise Ramos, John Mills Elementary School; Nicole Taha, Elm Middle School; and Jesse Salazar and Rebekah Spathies, Elmwood Park High School.
Students had to be nominated for the SCOTY. Grades and activities were important considerations, but each school was asked to develop its own criteria as a further basis for selection. The school principal and teachers used those criteria to select their nominees.
Congratulations to District 401's 2019 SCOTY winners! The following are some of the nominating comments for each of D401's honorees.
Elm Middle School
► NICOLE TAHA, 7th grade *
Nominating comments: "Nicole carries her focused ballerina mindset and love of life everywhere, whether it is tutoring students at lunch, piecing together Elm’s yearbook with photos she took, or volunteering to teach toddlers at Furthermore Dance or at the Elmwood Park Public Library. This straight-A student has also been in Student Council for three years spanning elementary and middle school."
* NOTE: Schools with fewer than 500 students — such as Elm — may nominate only one student for the SCOTY; schools with more than 500 may nominate two.
Elmwood Elementary School
► ALYSSA ANDERSON, 6th grade
Nominating comments: "Alyssa has been in Student Council for three years, and she is the current Student Council vice president. She demonstrates leadership qualities on a daily basis in math, where she helps other students during group work time and takes an active role in all of her lessons. She is an outstanding and hard-working student. Alyssa also has a compassionate heart for others and treats everyone with respect."
► GIANNA VELAZQUEZ, 6th grade
Nominating comments: "Gianna brings compassion and kindness to everyone she encounters. Gianna is there to help her fellow classmates and always makes others feel included. Her patience and positivity inspire everyone around her. Gianna's effort and heart is evident in all she does. She is an active member of many clubs here at school and is involved throughout our community with dance and softball. Gianna is a model school citizen."
John Mills Elementary School
► PETR MALINA, 6th grade
Nominating comments: "Petr is a very kind person who takes school seriously and puts effort into every task. Petr is proactive in his citizenship by being ready, responsible and respectful. Petr demonstrates exceptional qualities as a student, and he is led by his values to be the best person he can be."
► ZALISE RAMOS, 6th grade
Nominating comments: "Zalise was chosen by her 6th-grade teachers because of the example she sets for her classmates. She consistently models responsible and respectful behavior. She is kind and always willing to help anyone in need."
Elmwood Park High School
► JESSE SALAZAR, 11th grade
Nominating comments: "Jesse has such a positive attitude and maturity to him. His work ethic is above par, and his work with the LGBTQ and Woke PDs is an inspiration. He has developed into a leader within our building on teaching students and staff tolerance, acceptance and equity. He is truly an amazing man and shows exactly what it means to be an Elmwood Park Tiger every day!"
► REBEKAH SPATHIES, 11th grade
Nominating comments: "Rebekah is a fantastic student and a positive contributing member to society. She is a lead member of our National Honor Society and DECA organizations here at Elmwood Park, works at Culver's part time, and she devotes herself to her church. Bekah also serves as the 'Voice of Elmwood Park' every morning with student announcements. Above all, she screams EPHS Tiger spirit and always has a positive outlook on life."