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March 2024 Top Winners


March's winners were honored at the Gateway Center in Collinsville, Illinois. Pictured are the top winners with First Alert 4's Taylor Holt, St. Louis County Police Department's Captain Jerry Kelly, Officer Young, with nominators St. Louis County Police Chaplain Rev. Chris Sommer, Officer Jackson, and  St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department's Detective Schaberg.  


Daya Brown

Highland Elementary School

Riverview Gardens School District

Daya was nominated by Officer Jackson, who shared this with us, “Daya has had outstanding behavior for the entire year. In the midst of the challenges that her classroom has faced as well as having went through several teachers she has still been respectful, she always finishes her work, she has very good grades and excellent attendance.”  
Thanks to her perseverance and respectful ways, her classmates have a role model, ready to make a difference!  So today we are recognizing Daya Brown for doing the right thing!

Charles "CJ" Crape
Douglas School
Belleville School District 118

Kristin Trapp, who nominated Charles stated, “CJ noticed that he was having a really hard time. He tried some of the skills that students have learned to use during difficult times and those skills were not working. He approached his teacher to let her know what he was experiencing and tried some different things with her. He was still struggling and knew that he needed to use a distract skill to help at that time. He worked with a building support person on distracting his thoughts for a set period of time and was respectful and responsive when the set time was up. He noticed that he was feeling better and was ready to return to class. Situations like these can be difficult for students to manage and we are so proud of the steps CJ took that day to take care of himself in a healthy. respectful, and responsible way.”
Thanks to his determination and respectful way he is a great role model for his classmates and made us all proud!  So today we are recognizing Charles Crape for doing the right thing!


A'Journi Blessing Cushshon

Glasgow Elementary School

Riverview Garden School District

 A’Journi is nominated for making a difference at her school. Rachel Dorsey who nominated her stated, “A'Journi is the ambassador for doing the right thing. She is my Class Assistant. She is always willing to learn, teach, and assist anyone in need. I had a family emergency, which required me to be out of state and conduct virtual instruction. A'Journi was able to assist the TA with class instruction, as well as classroom management. Her classmates have nicknamed her "Mother Teresa"”
We want a smiling classmate like you!     
   Thanks to her friendship and leadership she has made a difference in the life of her classmates!  So today we are A’Journi Blessing Cushshon for doing the right thing! We are so proud of you!

Ares Grant

Douglas Elementary School

Belleville School District 118

This young man was nominated by AnnaLee Ekstrand, who stated, “Ares found some money on the parking lot of our school. He brought it the next day, in a bag, with a note stating it was found. I had him take it to the office. I am very proud of Ares for making a good decision and returning it to the school!”
Thanks to his honesty and trustworthiness he has not just shown amazing character, he is making all of us proud as well! So today we are recognizing Ares Grant for doing the right thing!  Awesome job, congratulations!


Jordan Hertel 

Douglas Elementary School

Belleville School District 118

Jordan was nominated for this award by Ashley Muendlein who stated, “Jordan is a kid who is well liked by peers and is a leader whether or not he wants to be. Jordan came into 6th grade with a different mindset and watching him grow and succeed has been just simply a pleasure. He has blossomed into a young man who has matured not only with age, but with his thoughts and actions. Jordan is choosing to do the right thing even when it might not be "cool" to his friends. He is staying out of the problems and creating space and time for his education and his future. Jordan has even told a friend in class to stop bothering him because he wants to be doing the right thing because he knows it is the right thing to do. I am so proud of his maturity in situations and stepping up to his real potential in life. As I always say, you have a chance to rise up in everything you do, and Jordan is leading the charge with rising up!”  
Thanks to his leadership and responsible ways he has really made a difference and is a great example for those around him.  So today we are recognizing Jordan Hertel for doing the right thing!  We are proud of you Jordan, keep it up!

 DeMarcus Lee                

Douglas Elementary School

Belleville School District 118

DeMarcus was nominated by Malinda Waterson, who stated, “DeMarcus is new to Douglas School this year and is in our sixth-grade classroom. He has been quiet and polite, but at that point our paths did not cross too often. That changed one day when I was walking down the hallway to go into a classroom that he had just left. He walked out, said hello to me, shut the door behind him and took several steps down the hallway. Then he turned back to me and asked me if I was going into that classroom. When I said yes, he walked back and opened the door and held it open for me. I thanked him and then he went on his way. Later when I thanked him for his kindness, he stated that he hadn’t done anything, he just held the door open for me. I told him he had done much more than that. You see, I was carrying a lot of stuff in my hands and opening the classroom door myself would have been a little tricky. DeMarcus displayed kindness and thoughtfulness when he realized that I needed some assistance. He could have just gone back to his own classroom but instead he took some extra time to help me. It might have been a small gesture to him, but I thought it was sweet and caring. He recognized that someone needed a little help, and he was willing to lend that assistance. Looking out for others is a kind thing to do and I really appreciated that DeMarcus noticed that I needed that assistance that day. Thanks, DeMarcus, for your kindness! I
really appreciate it!”
Thanks to his respectful ways and kindness he made a difference in his school! So today we are recognizing DeMarcus Lee for doing the right thing!  You are a great role model for all of us!


Max Melvin 

Douglas Elementary School

Belleville School District 118

Max’s story of friendship came to us from Malinda Waterson.  His nomination stated, “Max is a happy, sweet student in my classroom. He likes to help others and often looks for the person who seems to be on the sidelines and is kind and helpful to them. This was very evident in how Max was patient and kind to a fellow student at Douglas School during an after-school Art Club program. During Art Club, Max met a new friend, named Ashton. During Art Club Max noticed that Ashton needed some help. Max had helped Ashton during a summer daycare program, so this was just another opportunity where Max stepped up and came to Ashton’s aid. Max was able to help his friend Ashton with his artwork. He spoke to Ashton with kindness and was able to get Ashton to calm down and get his art project completed on time.
Max put aside his own project to help his friend. It was just such a great example of compassion and kindness. Way to go out of your way, Max, and showing kindness to a classmate. Thanks for your great example!”  
Thanks to his friendship and patience he has shown us all how to care and make a difference by helping a friend!  So today we are recognizing Max Melvin for doing the right thing!  Keep up the good work!

Sophia Salger 

Columbia Middle School

Columbia Community Unit School District 

Sophia’s story was shared with us by Reverand Chris Sommer, who nominated her, stating, “Sophia attended a Kellsie’s Hope Women’s Luncheon in 2019 and learned so much about
childhood cancer and specifically that many times, their hair falls out during treatments. This led her to ask her parents to donate warm hats for these kids during the winter. Sophia started collecting hats for cancer patients at St. Louis area children’s hospitals during the Christmas season of 2019. Sophia used her money from her own piggy bank to purchase warm winter hats to be given to these deserving kids. The Kellsie’s Hope Foundation assisted Sophia by delivering the hats and has been part of the effort ever since. That year she donated 50 hats with her own money.
Wanting to grow in 2020, she went out to Facebook and asked friends and family to help by donating to her cause. That year she collected more than 250 hats! The following year saw more growth as not only family and friends helped to donate but also several local small businesses in the Columbia area hosted collection events. She collected more than 500 hats in 2021! In 2022, Sophia once again collected hats then totaling more than 1,500 that have been sent from all over the country and Sophia has received many nice notes from the children that receive the hats.  Later in 2022, Sophia wanted to expand her work with Kellsie’s Hope and began creating homemade greeting cards with a portion of sales going to help grant wishes to kids going through cancer treatments. By 2023, her card business was in full swing and by the end of the year, she was able to grant her first wish and send a young man to WWE Wrestle Mania in Las Vegas! She once again collected hats during the Christmas season and was able to collect another 500+ hats and was now at a grand total of 2,000 hats.
In 2024, Sophia plans to continue her hat collection program and hopes to see even greater growth. She launched a new Facebook page for her greeting card business, has a new ecommerce website launching soon and wants to grant another wish by the end of the year.”     
Thanks to her generosity and compassion she has made a difference! So today we are recognizing Sophia Salger for doing the right thing!  


JaVaeh Simelton

Westhaven School
Belleville School District 118

JaVaeh here, was nominated by Nikki Boze, who stated, “This student is always doing the right thing. She had to stay in for recess for an injury recently, and every child that came into the nurse's office she was so empathetic and kind to the kids. Another student would play sidewalk chalk with her during recess as well, and she was always so helpful and kind to him, helping him understand how to play different games. When I'm in the classroom she is always paying attention and doing her best!”
You really are a great friend.
Thanks to her empathy and kindness she has made a difference in her school community and is a great friend for everyone!  So today we are recognizing JaVaeh Simelton for doing the right thing!  

 Johnia Simelton                

Westhaven School

Belleville School District 118

DeAnna Close, who submitted this nomination stated, “Johnia was home with her family when her little brother had his first seizure. She reacted immediately and ran to get her mom. Her mom was able to start timing the seizure and get the necessary help because of Johnia's good instinct. Her little brother is fine today, thanks to her.”
      Thanks to her astute observation and quick action she made a difference at home, and we are so proud of her! So today we are recognizing Johnia Simelton for doing the right thing!  Great job! You are an amazing example for others!


Kyrie Smith  

Douglas Elementary School

Belleville School District 118

Kyrie’s story was shared with us by Jacqueline Jarvis who nominated him, stating, “Kyrie is an outgoing and energetic little boy who started kindergarten with gusto! Kyrie was
ready to learn and ready to make friends with EVERYONE, and he has! I'm not sure if there is anyone he doesn't know at Douglas. He comes in every morning with a smile on his face and a story to tell,and always makes me smile. This type of confident and comfortable start is not true for all kindergartners, and one of my students this year was having a particularly difficult time adjusting. 
In our classroom, we spend the first quarter of school really  focusing on building a sense of classroom family and learning what it means to be kind, be a good friend, and take care of each other. Even after a couple months of being in school, our one friend continued to struggle, spending much of his school day in tears. One morning, the rest of the kids were on our rug, ready to start our morning meeting, and our friend began to cry and refused to  come to the rug as he did every morning. Without any prompting Kyrie left his spot on the rug and gently took our friend by the hand, ensuring him that it was okay and he could sit with him on the rug. The boy willingly went to the rug with Kyrie, which he never did for any of our teachers. When seated on the rug, Kyrie continued to comfort him and make him feel safe by putting his arm around him and gently rubbing his back. I just watched it unfold, my heart swelling and trying to keep the tears forming in my eyes from spilling out, but not wanting to ruin the moment by drawing any attention to our friend. While the other boy did not participate in our morning meeting or our phonics lesson, he did sit on the rug, without crying, and feeling comfortable for the first time.
I later told Kyrie how proud I was of him for taking the initiative to be a wonderful friend and caring person. I once again felt my heart swell when I saw him beam with pride in himself. I encouraged Kyrie to continue to be a special friend to this other boy, and more amazing things started to happen in our classroom. More and more students not only stepped up to encourage and love on our struggling friend, but I saw them show compassion to ANY friend in our classroom who was having a sad moment. Always immediate and unprompted, just as Kyrie did for our struggling friend, and always with a gentle hand and soft caring words. Moreover, our struggling friend has been thriving in his second quarter of school!
I truly believe Kyrie started something amazing in our classroom. I am so proud of the kindness and compassion I see in my students every day. I feel the caring climate in our classroom this year is unmatched. Kyrie is an awesome example of the ripple effect that comes from being a leader for good, and that is why I believe he deserves the Do The Right Thing Award.”
Thanks to his friendship and compassion he has made a difference in the life of his classmate and as a role model for the rest of his classroom! So today we are recognizing Kyrie Smith for doing the right thing!  

Leah Sonsoucie 

Douglas Elementary School

Belleville School District 118

Leah here, was nominated by Malinda Waterson, who stated, “Leah is a sweet 6th grade student in Mrs. Tyler’s classroom here at Douglas School. She has been at Douglas several times this year and has seen more than her share of transitions and moves. She came back to us at Douglas in January right after our winter break. I had the opportunity to meet Leah one morning when my 4th grade students were waiting to go into our Art classroom. My own students were blocking the entire hallway when Leah was getting a drink at the drinking fountain. Leah walked over to my classroom line and was waiting patiently for my students to clear the hallway so that she could return to her own classroom. I noticed that Leah was standing there so I started a conversation with her. Leah was sweet and patient and did not try to push through the line as some other students might have chosen to do. I asked my kiddos to move aside to let Leah pass so she could return to her own classroom. Since then, Leah has made it a point to wave at me and shyly say hi whenever our paths cross at school. Leah has been through so much and yet she is sweet and caring and kind. The Douglas students can learn so much from your great example of what it means to be a Douglas Tiger! Way to be a leader, Leah!”
Thanks to her patience and kindness she has made a difference in her school community and is a great leader for everyone!  So today we are recognizing Leah Sonsoucie for doing the right thing!  


Laeona Winters  

Douglas Elementary School

Belleville School District 118

Sheila Trice, who submitted this nomination stated, “Laeona Winters is being nominated because she is such a sweet student who always exhibits good character. Laeona is respectful to others and is very kind with her words and her actions even when no one is watching. She knows exactly what she should be doing in class, in the cafeteria, in the halls, and on the playground. Laeona is extremely quiet and only speaks when she is called on in class. She is the kind of student who completes her work, checks it over and then keeps herself busy doing the right things that will keep her occupied until the teacher is ready to move on to the next subject. This type of student normally doesn't get a lot of attention and falls under a teacher's radar, because they are always doing the right thing. But today I wanted to make sure that this is not Laeona's story. I feel that because she does makes good choices daily and is a role model for other students who choose to follow her lead, she should be chosen for the Do the Right Thing Award.”  

We agree!
Thanks to her responsible ways and kindness she has made a difference at school! So today we are recognizing Laeona Winters for doing the right thing!  Great job! You are an amazing example for others! 

Watch the ceremony here.

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