School: Margaret Fain Elementary School
Whoever coined the expression, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” must have been thinking about Joe’Darrius Calloway. Challenges seem to compel Joe’Darrius to work harder and keep trying until he can claim victory – he never gives up.
Persistence has helped Joe’Darrius learn tricks on the basketball court, like dribbling the ball between his legs and behind his back, and in the classroom. That persistence also pays off in the classroom.
“If I get a question wrong, I always keep trying until I get it right,” he says. He also tells himself to never settle for less than his best.
Earlier this year, Joe’Darrius – a challenge student and Math League member – made a ‘C’ on a math test. As a math enthusiast and Fain Junior Beta Club member, Joe’Darrius says the grade nearly sent him into a state of shock.
“I couldn’t believe I let myself make that grade. I was mad at myself, because I knew the right answers, but I didn’t take my time on the test.”
The grade prompted Joe’Darrius to push himself to do better on his next test – which he aced.
Fifth-grade teacher David Archibald teaches Joe’Darrius math, and he has seen the fifth-grader’s determination and persistence.
“Joe’Darrius pushes himself and others around him to excel in all that they do,” says Archibald.
Mr. Archibald has also noticed that Joe’Darrius consistently comes to class prepared and ready to learn – two simple actions that allow Joe’Darrius to absorb information and satisfy what Archibald calls, “an unyielding thirst for knowledge that never seems to end.”
Joe’Darrius also serves as a peer tutor, which allows him to help his classmates improve their understanding of difficult lessons. It’s a responsibility he enjoys.
“I really like it when I’m helping them with something hard and they finally get it,” he says.
Peer tutoring is one of many things Joe’Darrius loves about Fain. His Fain ‘fun list’ includes a recent field trip to the Cyclorama, school dances and preparing his science project, “Which Drink Stays the Fizziest?”, for the upcoming fair.
Away from school, Joe’Darrius loves reading books like “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” – one of his favorites – and playing football and basketball with his friends. He would love to become a professional dirt bike rider for the X- Games someday, but if that doesn’t pan out, Joe’Darrius wants to design sneakers or work in a math-related field.
School: Venetian Hills
Only in second grade, Avryanna Holmes already understands how important it is to do her best in everything she touches, and the connection between doing her best and achieving success.
“I see that my grandmother does a good job, so I need to do a good job too, because I want to be like her. She motivates me to do my best,” says Avryanna, who adds that her grandmother always encourages her to succeed.
This grandmotherly encouragement has yielded remarkable results: since kindergarten, Avryanna has made straight A’s on her report cards; she reads at least five books every week, has passed more Accelerated Reader quizzes than anyone in the school, and has earned the Venetian Hills Accelerated Reader program “Top Reader” title; and the avid runner has won five medals for her impressive performance at various track competitions.
For Avryanna, doing her best also means helping others. So while she enjoys winning, Avryanna does not hold back when it comes to sharing the secrets to her success: She shares her strategies for passing the AR quizzes with her classmates, so that they can be successful, too.
That helpful nature has led Avryanna to set her eyes on becoming a doctor someday; the second-grader says she wants to be a doctor, because she likes helping people, and she wants to save lives. A career as a physician would be perfect for Avryanna, especially since she loves solving problems –solving problems is one reason she says math is her favorite subject.
Avryanna’s passion for learning is so strong, she loves learning subjects across the curriculum, and Venetian Hills has given her plenty of opportunities for that.
Avryanna sums it up by saying, “I enjoy school because you learn a lot of things…and I enjoy making friends, too.”
School: Hutchinson Elementary School
Jaden is an aspiring hip hop artist who hopes to change the world of rap through positive lyrics.
Last year, he wrote and performed his own original music, which his father produced. And in October, the duo performed an original song — which carried a drug-free theme — in front of the entire Hutchinson student body. The audience was so impressed with the father and son collaboration, they insisted on an encore performance. The star student admits that initially, he had butterflies when he performed, but the cheers from his classmates quickly put him at ease.
Before that performance, many of Jaden’s peers had never heard him rap, but after the Red Ribbon Week pep rally, they were fully aware – and impressed – with his verbal skills.
Jaden is not impressed with the current state of hip hop and believes it perpetuates negativity among young listeners. So he says once he becomes a well-known artist, he will focus on education, street smarts, and common sense.
Jaden’s father is a former hip hop musician, and Jaden calls him his biggest inspiration.
Submitted by Cassell Gray, Hutchinson Elementary music teacher and communications ambassador
School: Burgess-Peterson Academy
Jacob Thomas was recently named student of the month at Burgess-Peterson Academy. He is a well-rounded student who excels in all subjects.
“I love being at school because I learn a lot and my teacher helps me a lot,” Jacob said.
After Jacob completes his classwork, he usually helps his classmates complete theirs, whether they are close friends or just acquaintances. He says he does this, because all of his classmates are special to him.
Jacob has a natural attraction to science, and he wants to become a scientist when he grows up. And recently, Jacob and a group of his classmates impressed their first-grade teacher when they conducted a science experiment in which they put water in bottles to create a range of pitches. The experiment proved that having less water in a container creates a higher pitch.
When he is away from school, Jacob likes to dance and play catch. But most of all, he likes to play with his twin brother Jabari – the two are inseparable. Since they have almost identical personalities, it’s no wonder they get along so well. Jacob sums up their relationship by simply saying, “He’s my best friend.”
“Jacob Thomas is very articulate, outgoing, and a hard-worker,” said Carolyn Reese, first-grade teacher at Burgess-Peterson Academy. “He has great manners, carries himself like a preacher, and strives to do his very best in everything he does.”