Student Leaders Honored Ahead of MLK Jr. Day

January 11, 2013

Students at Woodbrook Elementary School in Albemarle County are honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ahead of the holiday. Friday morning, students celebrated his role as a leader while shining the spotlight on some of their classmates.

Twenty-one Woodbrook kindergarten to fifth-grade students were recognized for displaying leadership qualities of their own. Each teacher selected one student to receive the award.

This is the second annual MLK Leadership Award ceremony at the school, organized by diversity resource teacher Leslie Wills.

"This has really been part of her journey in our school and it's just a wonderful thing to see a teacher have a dream and make it a reality," said principal Lisa Molinaro.

It may be a relatively new award at the school, but Wills said she hopes it has a long-term effect.

"Every year we should see more and more students wanting to achieve that award for excellence," Wills said. "A sort of 5-10 year long-term plan is that on the first day of school, teachers are saying in their classrooms, 'What can you do to be like Martin Luther King?'"

Teachers selected students who demonstrate qualities like empathy, responsibility and respect on a daily basis.

Classmates and family members cheered on the award winners as they took to the stage in the school gymnasium.

"I'm very proud of myself," said fifth-grade student Zahaire Roberson. "Out of all the kids in the classroom, I thought that there were going to be other choices, but [Mr. Aurand] picked me and I'm very proud of myself."

Mr. Aurand told the crowd that he selected Roberson because of her kindness and compassion as well as her respectfulness of adults and peers, among other traits.

Last year, only award winners and their families participated in the ceremony. Friday's event was a school-wide celebration.

"We thought that this year, the entire school should be celebrating this initiative and see the positive impact of what Martin Luther King did for all of us," said Wills.

After the ceremony, award recipients and their parents had attended a breakfast in the school cafeteria.

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Woodbrook Elementary MLK Leadership Award Recipients for 2013:

DAMIEN ASHTON - Mrs. White, pre-school
BRADEN KNIGHT - Mrs. Huffman, pre-school
BRADY WILSON - Mrs. Stolling, pre-school

RACHAEL ONG - Mrs. Kelsey, kindergarten
KELSEY KIRKEIDE - Mrs. Milione, kindergarten

MICHAEL HONRAHAN - Mrs. Green, first grade
DEVON HIGGINBOTTOM - Mrs. Sommer, first grade
KHIONNA HOWARD-HAMILTON - Mrs. Remley, first grade

DALLAS SNOW - Mrs. Klunder, second grade
SHEA MORAN - Ms. Baber, second grade
ELMIRA RAHMANI MOFRAD - Mrs. Lafontaine, second grade

PAULA NOLASCO - Ms. Fox, third grade
SYDNEY ALEXANDER - Mrs. Hendricks, third grade
GRACE HE - Martha Smith, third grade

SHANNON JOHNSON - Ms. Wills, fourth grade
TRINITY SWARTZ - Mrs. Jasper, fourth grade
NOHA CHING - Mrs. Kelly, fourth grade
KATIE RASMUSSEN - Mrs. Holmstrom, fourth grade
MARQUEN BOOKER - Mrs. Robison, fourth grade

ADDISON HALL - Mr. Gissendanner, fifth grade
ZHAIRE ROBERSON - Mr. Aurand, fifth grade


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