Offering heartfelt thanks
May 21 saw the first-ever North Marion Community Recognition Night, all thanks to one student's efforts to publically thank district volunteers, substitute teachers and retiring staff.
Elyse Rodriguez, a junior at North Marion High School, thought up the idea when tasked with a project for leadership class that focused on helping others.
"I appreciate the people who do things for the district who normally go unnoticed," she explained.
Initially the idea was to have a bulletin board posted somewhere in the high school that would honor a person of the week. But when discussing the idea with Superintendent Ginger Redlinger during a student advisory group, it was suggested she celebrate everyone together in one night.
Rodriguez sent out districtwide emails asking for people to nominate someone they thought was deserving of recognition.
"The recognition isn't a surprise but it will be a surprise who nominated them," Rodriguez said before the May 21 event.
The event, held at 6 p.m. in the high school commons, featured a slideshow, speeches from both Redlinger and Rodriguez, and individual recognition of 27 parent volunteers, community members, substitute teacher and retiring staff members.
"My speech is about the story of people building bonds and what's unique about North Marion," Rodriguez said.
Overall, she said it turned out to be a meaningful event.
"A lot of people came up to me and said thank you and some even teared up," she said. "They felt very appreciated, and almost everyone showed up. It was a great night."
While Rodriguez did a lot of the organizing, she said she couldn't have done it without the help of her adviser, Kelsey Nieman.
"Elyse Rodriguez did a great job of creating the event and getting people to help her," Redlinger said after the event. "Many parents and staff were recognized for their total commitment to helping our students."
Rodriguez said she hopes to continue this event next year, and maybe mentoring another student to carry the torch.
Overall, just carrying out this year's event was a feat for someone like Rodriguez.
"I'm really shy, so this has really put me out of my comfort zone," she admitted.
But it has been worth it, she said.
"Everyone who is was recognized was so happy," she said. "They gave me hugs and said thank you, that it means a lot to them."
The North Marion Community Recognition Night honored:
Marv and Dorothy Ellis
Gregory and Megan Patzer
BIll Graupp (school board member)