Sunday, December 21, 2014

Seniors named ‘Citizen Scholars’

By The Herald Staff | 5/16/2014

Graduating seniors from each high school in Franklin County were nominated as Ottawa Herald Citizen Scholars.

Those selected not only are among the top students in their classes, but show the signs of active community spirit.

Graduating seniors from each high school in Franklin County were nominated as Ottawa Herald Citizen Scholars.

Those selected not only are among the top students in their classes, but show the signs of active community spirit.



Ottawa High School

On several occasions, Brianna Pfizenmaier has gone door-to-door selling Spanish Club meal deal discount cards, National Honor Society fruit, or asked to complete chores to help fund a trip this July to Spain, she said.

“Active citizenship is important to me because it is spiritually fulfilling and fun,” Pfizenmaier said. “I used to dread the onerous task of being an ‘annoying’ door-to-door saleswoman, but today I can ask with much more ease. The community is willing to help and will listen to my story.”

Interacting with the community is fun, Pfizenmaier said, because connections are made between her and the families she meets.

Pfizenmaier graduated Sunday from Ottawa High School with a 3.965 grade point average. The 18-year-old daughter of Bill and Brenda Pfizenmaier has been selected as one of The Herald’s Citizen Scholars for 2014.

“I could tell you every neighborhood and every person that I have offered services to as well as a story to go along with the place or persons,” Pfizenmaier said. “Being involved in the community is a lot more memorable than sitting at home watching TV. My life is all about living for the adventure, and being a active citizen gives me that adventure.

“In this interaction with my community I have grown courageous in my ability to help others,” she said, “as well as awareness of the kindness in Ottawa. I have received more willing ‘yeses’ than I ever expected.”

Pfizenmaier has been involved in a host of activities at OHS, including playing on the volleyball team for three years, tennis team for one year, basketball team for four years, softball team for one year, soccer team for three years, National Honor Society, Spanish Club, Key Club and Political Science Club.

Pfizenmaier worked at Sirloin Stockade in 2013, serving as a cashier, cleaner, salad bar runner and baker.

She attends Mass on Saturdays at Sacred Heart Church in Ottawa and has been a part of the Sacred Heart youth group throughout high school.

“I volunteered to re-mulch the Sacred Heart School playground as part of a group effort,” Pfizenmaier said. “The experience meant a lot to me because I worked with a group of people I had already known well from the Sacred Heart community. Also, it was the same playground I played on in elementary school, as well as the playground my brother would play on in the upcoming year.”

Pfizenmaier found the old mulch came out in chunks, was colorless, hard, and was growing fungus, she said.

“The new mulch provided a safer environment for the Sacred Heart students to grow up in, fall on, and imagine,” she said.

Pfizenmaier plans to attend Benedictine College in Atchison in the fall, where she will major in Theology.

“In college, I will work and serve my new hometown community of Atchison,” she said. “On break, my college allows me to travel to a different country for mission work. After college, I will be spiritually fulfilled to share my knowledge and work with a foreign community through non-profit organizations. For a portion of my life I would like to be on a disaster relief team.”



Central Heights High School

Sabrina Carlson, Central Heights senior, has a creative way to support her community — balloon art.

“My contribution, or specialty, is creating balloon art,” she said. “I like working any event no matter how large or small. Sometimes a simple balloon can turn a day around by just having a simple request magically turned into reality.”

Carlson, the daughter of Jeremy and Sheila Carlson, Princeton, said it’s important to give back to the community no matter how large or small.

“I view a community as a family,” she said. “Whether the community is local, state, national, or worldwide, participation as contributing member really makes a difference. We all have our part to play.”

She said active citizenship is the support system of a community and she has a mantra she tries to follow:

“As I am supported by those in my community, I in turn will support my community,” she said.

Carlson has participated in Future Farmers of America, robotics, drama club, academic letter club, band, cross country team manager, Spanish club, book club and played for the golf team.

She also participated in 4-H for 12 years, Girl Scouts for eight and the Show Me Clowns for Jesus for three.

Carlson said the activities that she was able to bring her balloons to were her favorite times to give back to the community.

“Needing to choose one, the Convoy of Hope event is the one that I think of first,” she said. “I worked with 10 other balloon artists, and we served several thousand people that day. I helped provide smiles and bring joy that day. I still smile when I remember all the people I met that day.”

She said smaller events can be more meaningful, though. She once made balloons in the celebration of a young life.

“Once I worked a small event that was held in memory of a little girl who had passed away from cancer just days before,” she said. “It was an honor to be part of the celebration of her life.”

The granddaughter of famed Franklin County clown Grandpa Pokey, she acknowledged balloons don’t necessarily make money, but said it’s her passion.

“All my jobs consist of balloons,” she said. “I have worked for my grandpa’s balloon business. I have started my own business — Crazy Balloons!”

“I use paying jobs to buy balloons so I can give balloons away! A smile is a good payment!”

Carlson said she plans to attend Fort Hays State University and major in wildlife biology. She said she wants to help animals.

“I am looking for employment at an animal sanctuary and plan to help with the rehabilitation of raptors.”



Central Heights High School

Community means everything to Jordan Horstick, the Central Heights senior said, and that’s why he tries to help his community when ever he gets the opportunity.

“I receive so much support from my community, so I want to do everything to give back to them. I want to be an active citizen in society and in return, give back to my home community.”

Horstick, son of Tom and Linda Horstick, Richmond, is an active community member in athletics and community service, but Horstick felt the most useful when the two combined.

He said his favorite service to the community was the biddy basketball program at Central Heights. The program is a six-week basketball camp run by the Central Heights High School basketball coach for students from kindergarten to eight grade, he said. Horstick and some of his teammates on the high school basketball team help their coach with the camp, he said.

“The reason it is the most meaningful to me is because I love working with kids, and I love basketball,” Horstick said. “This activity puts the two together, and it is enjoyable for the kids and me alike. I enjoy getting to know the kids throughout the weeks and over the years. They look up to the high school players like heroes, so it is nice to give back to them by teaching them the game of basketball.”

He said his favorite part of the camp is when they play in front of adoring fans who can see the smile on their faces.

“Usually at our last home basketball game before Christmas break, the biddy basketball kids come out at the halftime of the game,” Horstick said. “I love to see their faces as they perform in front of the packed crowd. This is the ultimate satisfaction, but I really just like helping them and being a part of their lives.”

Horstick also was involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Students Against Destructive Decisions, National Honor Society, student council, band, football, baseball and, of course, basketball.

Horstick will continue playing basketball when he attends Tabor College next fall, but he said his academic direction is as-yet undecided. All he knows is he will be helping others in some capacity.

“I have not decided on a major yet. I just know that I want to make an impact on society in some way. I will do that through continued hard work throughout my lifetime,” he said.



Wellsville High School

It has been a wonderful learning experience for Wellsville High School senior Ashley Reynolds, she said. For the past year, she has been caring, in her free time, for a teenage girl who has moderate to severe cerebral palsy.

“Through this experience, I have learned great patience, understanding and strived to develop various ways to communicate with her,” Reynolds said. “My nurturing has allowed this young girl to enjoy our time together after school, while her parents feel confident in knowing she is well cared for. This has been a truly wonderful learning experience for me.”

Reynolds, 17, rural Rantoul, is the daughter of Kevin and Marsha Reynolds. She has been heavily involved in activities both inside and outside the classroom throughout her high school career.

Reynolds is a four-year member of both the school band and pep band, including two years as a drum major. She also is a four-year member of Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), Scholar’s Bowl and yearbook, where she was also co-editor in 2013 and 2014. She also has been involved in Eagle Spotlight for three years, National Honor Society for two years, Eagle Lift-Off Mentor for two years, stage band for one year, cross country for one year and was elected as a class officer from 2010 to 2012.

In addition to her extra-curricular school work and community service, Reynolds also has worked as a customer service representative for Pizza Hut in Ottawa, 2314 S. Princeton St. She also worked in special needs child care, baby sitting and at Cuddlesome Farm, 4442 Vermont Road, Wellsville, which raises puppies, according to its website.

When asked why active citizenship is important to her, Reynolds said, “If you are not being a useful citizen, then what are you doing?”

Reynolds plans to attend Allen County Community College in Iola with an undecided major, she said.



West Franklin High School

Small communities are like family, Emily Reed, West Franklin senior, said, and that’s why she thinks it’s important to give back.

“When you live in a small town, your community becomes your family,” she said. “When one person in the community suffers, everyone suffers with them. When someone succeeds, such as an athletic team, the whole community rejoices.”

Reed, the daughter of Carl and Nancy Reed, Pomona, said it’s always important to remember where you came from and to help the community that helped raise you.

“They help shape you into the best person you can be. I strongly believe that we should give back by doing everything in our power to give back to those who have helped us along the way. Your hometown will always be where you’re from, and it is very important that you always remember where you came from,” she said.

Reed said the best way she gave back to her community was a project she helped organize with a friend called Dig For A Cure, which took place during volleyball season. The project aimed to benefit the Franklin County Cancer Foundation. Every year, 100 percent of the proceeds went to the FCCF, until Reed’s senior year, when an opponent’s coach was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“This year, a coach that we play every year, someone who has helped our program by always giving us great competition and who is willing to help at any time, was diagnosed with breast cancer. We decided that 15 percent of the proceeds would go to her as well,” she said.

Reed said the fundraiser has raised $4,000 in the program’s four-year history. She said volleyball is important to her, and she’s happy she can use it for a good cause.

“Volleyball has always been a major part in my life, and it feels great to use that passion in a way that could help others that are in need,” she said.

During her high school career, Reed was involved with Future Business Leaders of America; Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America; National Honor Society; SAFE Team; Scholars Bowl; and such school activities as volleyball, basketball, track, theater, and journalism.

Reed said she plans to attend Cowley County Community College to play for the volleyball team and study pre-law. She said after Cowley she wants to attend a four-year college to finish her bachelor’s degree and then go to law school to become a criminal lawyer.



West Franklin High School

Courtney Renfro kept varied interests throughout her high school career in West Franklin.

The daughter of Sam and Keran Renfro, Williamsburg, the Falcon senior was a member of Future Business Leaders of America, National Honor Society, the West Franklin golf team, forensics team, scholar’s bowl and was a class officer and participant in school theater.

Renfro also was an active member in her church and a Williamsburg Community Library volunteer.

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