By Tina Jenkins Bell
BAPA School Liaison
Each year, BAPA’s public education committee gives out community service awards to public school students who make a difference. Each public elementary school has the opportunity to nominate one student, who in their own way contributed to their community, including their school, their neighborhood, or elsewhere. Last month, The Villager profiled award winners from Kellogg School, Vanderpoel Humanties Academy and Morgan Park High School Academic Center. This month, we are pleased to profile winners from Clissold, Barnard, Sutherland and Esmond elementary schools.
Antonio Fox is a beam of light and hope. It is no wonder that Clissold Elementary School principal Jamonica Marion recommended him for BAPA’s 2020 community service award.
The 13-year old Salutatorian logged in 357 volunteer hours over the last three years, which is 312 community service hours more than expected of him as a Chicago Public School student.
“I like being in a community where I can impact someone’s life for the better. If we want to change the world, we have to do acts of kindness with our hearts,” Antonio said.
Some of those acts of kindness include becoming a pen pal to Smith Village residents during the quarantine. At least seven of those residents have begun to routinely write back to Antonio, which is why he says he’ll continue to write them until for as long as they need him.
“There’s a lot going in their lives, so why not bring them joy,” Antonio said.
At his church, Antonio works with parishioners who have special needs by keeping them company and helping them with cooking lessons and art activities. Since 5th grade, he has worked as a Special Olympics volunteer, helping to set up equipment, measure progress, and cheer the basketball, track, and baseball athletes to the finish line. At school, he has been a crossing guard since 5th grade and helps out at school open house events, doing tours and answering questions about the school.
In addition to being a great student, Antonio was also president of the student council.
For Antonio, volunteering is “a great thing to do to feel better about yourself and see people smile.”
Angelica Davis-Smith, a 14-year old graduate of Barnard Elementary School, believes her principal Kathleen Valente nominated her for a community service award because she is respected, gets good grades, and was student of the month twice during her time at Barnard. She’s also a great observer who thinks before she speaks or acts, and that makes her discerning, an attribute of leaders and contributors.
“I love helping people because it makes me feel good. I am able to help people who are less fortunate,” she said.
For the past two years, Angelica has been busy helping others. She was a crossing guard during her 8th grade year, a volunteer in the classroom, and a member of REAL (Real, Educated, Ambitious, Liberated) Girls.
As a member of REAL Girls, Angelica passed out food to people who were homeless, and visited other schools to clean up their public, lunchroom, and locker room areas. She’s also a great helper at home, sometimes cooking meals.
The future chef, doctor, or artist, who loves to design fashions with her pen, plans to attend Morgan Park High School in the fall. She knows she has a lot more to give and accomplish, but in her words, “I am on my way.”
The world is waiting, Angelica!
Ava McCarthy, 14-years-old, a graduate of Sutherland Elementary School where Margaret Burns is principal, believes she was chosen for BAPA’s community service award by school leaders because of her long-time attendance and her can–do and willing–worker attitude.
“I’ve been at Sutherland since kindergarten, and I’ve always been one of those kids to help others. That’s common knowledge,” Ava said.
Ava is not only a contributor, she finds other ways to give, like creating solutions for common needs and problems. Accordingly, when Sutherland required 8th graders to complete a community service project, Ava could have gotten her signature sheet and located a church, neighbor or program for which to volunteer, and her time would have been well spent. However, she cares about the environment and wanted to promote climate change awareness among her peers. To do that, she sponsored a “save the planet” poster contest for 7th and 8th graders. Contestants had to create poster-campaigns that explored reasons we should care about the environment. Afterwards, a winner was chosen from each grade, and two people received a gift card from Ohana Ice and Treats, 1800 W. 103rd St.
Ava’s other volunteer work includes watering the school’s garden, setting up for grandparents’ day, reading to young kids, participating in her school’s version of a student council, welcoming new kids to the school, showing younger students how to complete standardized testing on the computer, and setting up rooms for testing. At St. Cajetan Catholic Church, she made sandwiches to give to the homeless and worked with the food pantry ministry.
Ava plans to attend the Chicago High School of Agricultural Sciences to study animal science because she loves animals and the environment and possibly fit in her interest in dance along the way.
“I feel like I’m a part of the community, and I need to help to make things better. I want to leave a good imprint of what I’ve learned and teach others lessons that I was taught,” Ava said, adding “That’s good stewardship. Right?”
You bet, Ava. Beverly/Morgan Park needs more good stewards!
RaMia Monden, a 14-year old artist and Esmond Elementary School graduate, was nominated for the community service award by Esmond’s International Baccalaureate Middle Year’s Program Coordinator Bernika R. Green. RaMia is a maker who saw the opportunity to use her expertise to help other Esmond students during the recent quarantine.
“Every day is an experience and helping people is a good thing to do. Most people need that lift,” RaMia said.
During the quarantine, students were required to switch from in–class to remote learning. Everyone was not able to make the transition, so RaMia helped them. As an artist and internet sensation with over 11,500 people following her art, she was one of the students Esmond teaching staff turned to help respond to students’ questions about navigating educational learning platforms. From this experience she learned, “You should have enough patience with other people and yourself while helping out.”
RaMia, who plans to attend ChiArts High School this fall, is a commissioned artist already. She also uses her art to fight social issues, like bullying.
“She’s always encouraging people through her art,” said RaMia’s mom, Rachel King.
Keep messaging positive vibes, RaMia. These are the times for it!