Unsung heroes rewarded for actions

In efforts to recognize peers of outstanding character, a student organization has enacted the Exceptional Effort Award.

Before the start of the school year, Senior Leadership and coordinator Diane Flaherty acknowledged that certain students and staff in the school exceed expectations in terms of spirit and dedication. Through discussion, they agreed on the importance of celebrating the unsung heroes of the school community.

“Each individual had someone who they knew who works really hard and does so without ever expecting any credit or acknowledgement,” Flaherty said. “The group did the first nominees and now they have opened it up to the whole school to nominate those individuals who really go above and beyond to make the high school a better place.”

Each month, a staff member and a student from the sophomore, junior and senior classes will receive recognition for their good deeds that often go unnoticed. Dec. 20 marked the giving of the first ever Exceptional Effort award. Principal Dr. Powers, along with a small crew of senior leadership members, surprised sophomore Richie Korneisel, junior Rachel Nurse, senior Karl Sadkowski and FCS teacher Gayle Bruene in their classrooms with a certificate of recognition and a Scratch cupcake.

“When Dr. Powers first announced my name in front of my first hour, I had no idea what why he was there. I was more confused than anything as to why there was a group of people asking for me,” Nurse said.

According to those who nominated her, Nurse’s active involvement in extracurricular activities like Student Senate and Junior Leadership made her an excellent candidate, contributing her time and a positive attitude for the betterment of the school.

Flaherty acknowledged Bruene as an obvious choice for a recipient as well, citing her passion and verve for her students both during the school year and into the summer months.

“She does so much with dance team in terms of fund raising, practicing and building up the girls. She is out at the ball park every night in the summer. She gives everything to the dance team.”

Students and staff may be recognized for a variety of contributions to the school. “A teacher might nominate a student who he sees help other students all the time. There are so many students who work behind the scenes helping teachers, programs and other students. The award recognizes leadership effort, but we knew there are so many others who make small and large contributions.”

Besides giving a monthly nod to the under-appreciated, the award also provides a subtle incentive for all members of the school to go “above and beyond” in their participation. Such exceptional behavior can be exemplified through enthusiasm, diligence, unselfishness and empathy for peers. Acknowledging good deeds as they occur provides a boost to the do-gooders as peers express their appreciation.

Nurse, however, believes that intrinsic motivation should provide the driving force for behaving with integrity, forgoing public recognition for a sense of personal satisfaction. “There shouldn’t have to be an award for being involved. It’s self-rewarding already. I’ll admit that it will probably motivate students to realize that there are a variety of ways to get involved.”
Nomination forms for future Exceptional Effort Award recipients are available in the ERC and Main Office, along with an online ballot found on the front page of the high school’s website.

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