Local role models honored at GCC
IRONWOOD - Four local high school seniors and one organization were honored during the 2014 Children's Trust Fund banquet at Gogebic Community College Wednesday evening.
CTF was established in 1982 to help communities "break the cycle" of child abuse and neglect. During the annual banquet, the group honored four students for their community involvement and an organization for its assistance in helping children throughout Gogebic County.
This year's guest speaker was Betsy Slabaugh, who spoke on Kiwanis' involvement with CTF's project the "welcome newborn" bags for new parents.
According to CTF chair Kitti Colassaco, the bags are a "project we're very proud of," and Kiwanis is a major contributor to the project.
Each bag includes handouts, books and other items to help new parents. After the bags are delivered, staff from the Western U.P. Health Department or Aspirus Grand View do follow-up visits with the parents to assist in any way they can.
For Slabaugh, seeing the amount of organizations helping with the bags is a "good feeling."
"This is a very worth-while project," Slabaugh said. "With Kiwanis, you get more out of it then you put into it, and I can see it's the same way with this organization (CTF)."
Colassaco said 150 bags are given each year in Gogebic County, and praised Kiwanis for it's involvement with the bags. Kiwanis was named the 2014 Organization of the Year by CTF.
"They are so wonderful," Colassaco said.
Community Role Model Award
Since 2001, CTF has awarded a $100 scholarship to a student from each of the four schools in Gogebic County. The students were nominated as community role models by school administration and staff based on three criteria.
Nominations should be for students who make "healthy lifestyle choices, consistently have positive attitudes and is a role model for peers and shows evidence of good citizenship."
According to Colassaco, what sets the awards apart from other awards is academic achievement and athletic ability are not required.
"Instead, this award focuses on quality of character and integrity," Colassaco said. "However, as you will hear, our honorees actually excel in all of the above."
Justin Pospeck, from A.D. Johnston High School in Bessemer, was awarded the scholarship. He is the son of Scott and Patty Pospeck, and is involved in many extracurricular activities including quiz bowl, ROTC, key club, is on the honor roll and volunteers in the community.
After graduation, Pospeck plans on joining the U.S. Navy.
"At school, Justin is always kind and cheerful and displays a fun, but respectful demeanor to both fellow students and staff alike," Lori Hendges, Bessemer guidance counselor, said. "His quirky sense of humor makes him a favorite amongst the staff."
For Wakefield-Marenisco, Hannah Cormier, daughter of David and Joy Cormier, was honored. Cormier is an honor roll student, is a member of the Ironwood Dance Company and is involved with extracurricular activities like student council, cheerleading, choir, asset builders, track and clarinet choir.
After graduation, Cormier plans on attending college and is currently undeclared on her major.
W-M guidance counselor Mark Lane described Cormier has an "outstanding student who is willing to help out in any situation," and said she is a "wonderful role model, pleasant, polite and a joy to be around."
Both Cormier and Pospeck accepted their awards at the banquet, while the other two participants were out of town.
Ironwood's recipient, Neva Bentley, was awarded for her involvement in school and community activities.
Bentley is the daughter of Stuart Bentley and Susan Prull, and is involved in the bio-athalon team, quiz bowl, national honor society, band, High-5 mentoring, Barracuda swim team, Team Gogebic ski team, 4-H, Gogebic Range Band and participated in the physics engineering olympics.
She also lifeguards at GCC and Blackjack Ski Resort and is an honor roll student.
Ironwood high school principal Michelle Kanipes said Neva is a "good student who is active in both school and community service."
After graduation, Bentley plans on attending Michigan Technological University to study ecology and environment.
The final recipient was Lauren Ryskey of Watersmeet. Her parents Greg and Jessie Ryskey accepted the award on her behalf.
Ryskey participates in student council, basketball, volleyball, track, cheerleading, quiz bowl, yearbook committee, band, prom committee and is a member of the school's health education advisory committee.
She also volunteers her time with Vacation Bible School and Children's Theater.
Ryskey was described by school personnel as "kind, genuine and trustworthy," and said her "great family values shine through as she interacts with others."
For Colassaco, honoring the four students is something CTF is "very proud" to do.
"These students are all positive role models in both their schools and communities," Colassaco said. "Many students that we have honored have become contributing adults to the community and it's very nice to say we honored them as seniors."
For more information on the Children's Trust Fund or to get involved, contact Colassaco at 906-932-5830 or Jeanine Winkowski at DOVE, Inc., at 906-932-4990.