Fifteen students awarded for charting new course in academic studies

by | Jun 12, 2024

Craig Manufacturing hosts its 11th annual Turnaround Award celebration for Upper River Valley schools

Fifteen students from schools between Nackawic-Millville and Plaster Rock were the guests of honour on May 22 when Craig Manufacturing hosted its 11th annual TurnAround Achievement Awards. They received awards, gifts, and praise. 

Despite a myriad of challenges, the students shared one common trait: They met those challenges head-on and turned around their academic lives to lay the foundation for a brighter future. 

During the annual dinner and award presentation at the Best Western Woodstock, the students and three teachers earned acclaim and applause for their life-changing efforts. 

John and Betty Lou Craig, representing the TurnAround Awards’ host and sponsor since 2013, the event holds a special meaning. They explained that the event celebrates the students’ efforts, with the help of parents, family members, and teachers, to clear obstacles in their path and turn their lives around. 

Betty Lou Craig explained that each school selects a student for the award. In addition to the award, each student receives a nameplate that will remain on display in their school, a carrying bag, and an opportunity to apply for a scholarship.

John explained TurnAround students can apply for the $2,000 annual scholarship upon graduation. 

Anglophone West School District community coordinator JoAnn Boone coordinates entries from all the Upper Valley schools, except the Carleton North schools, which host their home TurnAround Awards event. 

Betty Lou praised Boone’s efforts to work with school staff and teachers to select the recipients each year.

“We couldn’t do this without JoAnn,” she said. 

Special guests on the evening included representatives from Anglophone West.

Acting Director of Schools Julie Kilcollins welcomed the guests on behalf of the district and thanked the Craigs. 

“This all happens because of you,” she said. 

Mayors Cindy McLaughlin of Southern Victoria, Trina Jones of Woodstock, and Tim Fox of Nackawic-Millville attended the event and presented special certificates to students from their respective communities. 

The evening’s ceremony began with Piper Sarah Foster leading the award-winning students into the hall. Each student had their own table with family and special guests. 

After the meal, the awards ceremony began with the Above and Beyond Awards presentation to three teachers — Krista Webb-Sheera of Meduxnekeag Consolidated School, Kim Cheesman of Perth-Andover Middle School and Tony Hawkes of Woodstock High School. 

Nominating teachers or other school staff introduced the 2024 TurnAround Award winner for their respective schools and provided details on student achievements. 

Chandler Bowmaster, Andover Elementary School, presented by teacher Tanya Murchison 

Murchison explained that after years of struggling academically and socially, Chandler began to fall behind in class and made few friends. With the encouragement of teachers, he began to recognize his own potential and developed improved work skills. 

“As he started to see academic success, he began to make friends,” explained Chandler’s profile in the program provided to the award-winning students’ families. 

Gideon Gonzales-Moser, Nackawic Elementary School, presented by Nicole Priest

In the program, Principal Larry Graham, homeroom teacher Tanya Jackman and Priest all described Gideon as kind and helpful. However, in the early grades, he struggled with attention and academics. Over the years, Gideon worked to improve those areas.

“I am very pleased with the leadership Gideon has shown over the past few years and the confidence has had in himself,” stated Graham in the program. 

Matthew Goodine, Meduxnekeag Consolidated School, presented by Tyler Jones

Jones, a Behaviour Intervention Mentor at MES, described Matthew’s 180-degree turnaround since they started working together. He improved his behaviour, respect,  and relationship-building, making Matthew an ideal candidate for the award. 

“I look forward to seeing him move into middle school next yer and watch him grow and continue to do well in the years to come,” Jones said. 

Georgia Jensen, Townsview School, presented by Katrina Ginson

Ginson remembered Georgia as the “small, timid and feisty” child who entered kindergarten facing many challenges, including consistent routine, structure and expectations of the school system to overcome. Over the years, with the help of her family and the school support system, Georgia gained the strategies and skills to navigate the school system. 

Gibson described today’s Georgia as a creative and artistic student who can turn any school task into a creative masterpiece. 

“Watching Georgia’s growth and development over the years has been one of the highlights of my career,” said Ginson. 

Isaak Sappier, Donald Fraser Memorial School, presented by Principal Rebecca Harding

Harding said Isaak demonstrates the power of determination and resilience.

“This TurnAround Award celebrates his remarkable progress from a student facing challenges to an exemplary student,” she said. 

Early in his student life, Isaak was hindered by attending different schools in different communities. However, his sense of humour, kindhearted nature, and unwavering commitment made him popular among his schoolmates. 

“He is very proud of his First Nation heritage and will take any opportunity to teach and show others, including students and adults,” said Harding. 

Kya Ball, Meduxnekeag Consolidated School, presented by Lori Bird

As Kya’s teacher over the past three years, Bird said she witnessed the student’s growth. 

The young lady who lacked confidence in her abilities and avoided doing things out of fear of failure no longer exists. The smiling, cheerful, kind, and confident Kia now participates fully and knows that making mistakes is part of learning. 

“I hope you are as proud of your accomplishments as we are,” Bull stated in the program. 

Jakobe Paul, Perth Andover Middle School, presented by Principal Claudine Dionne

Dionne said Jakobe began PAMS, struggling to meet school expectations and interacting appropriately with adults and peers. 

She described the student’s growth as he moved into Grade 7. He began to socialize and appropriately interact with other students and adults. That progress continued this year in Grade 8.

“Jakobe comes to school daily in a positive mood with a smile on his face, often greeting his teacher and asking how her day was,” said Dionne. 

She said he consistently meets classroom expectations, has developed a core group of friends, and has a positive influence on everyone. 

Jessica Shaw, Hartland Community School, presented by Amanda Carr

Carr explained that HCS nominated Jessica for the award because of her positive change and growth as she went from middle school to high school. She became a “motivated, confident, positive, and grounded” young lady. 

Today, explained Carr, Jessica shines in fine arts, playing an active role on and off stage. 

“She organized the fall coffee house, performed for the first time since elementary school and fell in love with it,” said Carr.

Jessica heads up the backstage crew, performs in the school play and sings solos.

Eren Bobbitt, Woodstock High School, presented by Holly Potter

Potter described Eren as a young woman who made giant strides this year to come out of her shell and meet her graduation requirements. 

Potter called Eren, who graduates this June, a “calming presence” in the learning centre. To pursue her future ambitions, Eren began an online Digital Production 120 course, which she is working on in the learning centre.

Eren hopes to eventually attend Holland College to study Video Game Art and Animation, which would be her first step toward a career in animation.

Liam Boyce, Hartland High School, presented by Sherry Fox

Fox noted that Liam’s first three years of high school saw him making bad choices because of his inability to focus and his lack of commitment to completing tasks. When his mother enrolled Liam in boxing classes, she hoped it would channel his energy and that the discipline he learned would carry over into the rest of his life. 

“We saw glimmers of this throughout his first three years of school, but this year there has been a remarkable improvement in Liam,” said Fox. 

Liam joined the Senior Nighthawks soccer team.

“His athletic ability and eye for game made him a force to be reckoned with on the pitch,” explained Liam’s bio in the program. 

Liam also played basketball and continues boxing under the tutelage of professional boxer Brandon Brewer, an NHS alumnus. 

Torey Phillips-Collier, Woodstock High School, presented by Lauren Boyd

“I had the pleasure of teaching Torey both before and after her turnaround,” said Boyd. “And turnaround is exactly how I would describe Torey’s growth because she’s done a complete 180.”

Boyd said the Torey she taught a few years ago was overwhelmed by the thought of taking responsibility for her learning. She said that Torey, who started her class this year, was an organized, motivated, and self-aware student willing and able to learn. 

Torey’s confidence shines through her friendly attitude and warm smile. The talented artist shares those skills any chance she gets. 

“Torey takes responsibility for her learning, volunteers in the classroom and shares her opinions while respecting the opinions of others.” 

Kane Cyr, John Caldwell School, presented by Marco LeBlanc

Middle school proved to be three challenging years for Kane, who has attended JCS since kindergarten. While elementary school didn’t always come easy, Kane always delivered his best effort. 

That changed in middle school when Kane began to disengage from school and withdraw from school work and sports. It changed again when Kane entered Grade 9, said LeBlanc.

“He actively engaged in all his classes, and worked extremely had to complete his educational goals,” said LeBlanc.

Kane made considerable gains in literacy, making his way to the honour roll. 

LeBlanc said the kindhearted and polite high school student became a friend to everyone. 

“Kane’s enjoyment of helping others reemerged in high school and he has been involved in various activities at JCS,” said LeBlanc.

He added that Kane excelled in his co-op course, where he worked with elementary students and an automotive body shop.

Layla Grant, Canterbury High School, presented by Brendan Fowler

Layla epitomizes the TurnAround Awards. After returning to the K-to-12 school partway through Grade 10 after an almost four-year absence, she struggled with motivation, academics and attendance. 

Fowler said teachers worried about Layla’s future. But Layla, with support and encouragement, began to show marked improvement as she advanced through high school. 

“Layla has discovered what she want to do with her live and that has brought her motivation,” explained Fowler. 

Layla wants to become an early childhood educator and work in a daycare setting. In her co-op program this year, she helped in the school’s kindergarten class. 

“Layla loves her time working with these young students and the teacher in the class says Layla’s a natural.” said Fowler.

Layla showed remarkable improvement in her studies, including passing her Grade 11 and 12 math with a 90 per cent. She will also serve as the 2024 CHS Grad Class Historian. 

Jasmine McCarty, Southern Victoria High School, presented by Alisha Peterson

Jasmine earned her TurnAround Award for facing a massive challenge head-on. 

“Jasmine has persevered through the Enterprise program to complete her high school education,” said Peterson. “She has grown as a person and a mother the last few years.”

Realizing her pregnancy would set her back, Peterson said Jasmine made the mature decision to discuss her options with the school’s administration and guidance staff. Committed to completing her classes, Jasmine worked hard and asked for help when needed.

“She would bring babe and come into the school to get help, while the staff or a student babysat,” said Peterson, an EAST-Guidance counsellor. 

Allie McCaskill, Tobique Valley High School, presented by Danielle Fillmore and Jason Green

Allie’s journey to a TurnAround Award is “nothing short of inspiring,” Green and Fillmore said in their bio of the TVHS 2024 winner. 

After a tumultuous past, Allie’s first three years of high school saw 30 entries in the behaviour tracking system and 10 suspensions. However, she returned to school this year with a remarkable change in behaviour and attitude. Allie achieved honours in the April report card for the first time, boasting grades in the 90s. 

Beyond her academic achievements, Allie demonstrated creativity and a keen eye for design. As part of her Personal Interest class, she showed leadership in renovating the staff washrooms. 

“The teachers and administration of Tobique Valley High School have long believed in Allie’s potential and are immensely proud of her accomplishments,” states the program bio. 

The event’s final speaker was former TurnAround Award winner Gabby Byrne, who recounted the importance of the award to her. As a child diagnosed with autism, school at first proved a challenge. But with the help of others, she said she turned it around. 

“I learned to accept myself,” she said. 

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