Woodburn's Amazing Kids
Editor's note: The following pages are filled with amazing kids from the Woodburn area. Overall, 28 nominations for 29 students were submitted for the Amazing Kid recognition. While only one could be chosen, all nominees have made contributions to their community that we thought were worth celebrating. The Woodburn Independent and Chemeketa Community College Woodburn Center are honoring these students at a special reception May 9. Take a look at what makes these kids amazing.
Mikayla Golka, 2018 Woodburn Independent Amazing Kid
Mikayla Golka is talented in many ways. She is a gifted student, a great organizer (staying sane while keeping a hectic extracurricular activity schedule that is balanced with her rigorous coursework), and a passionate artist.
Her artwork is dramatic and thought-provoking and has been making a significant impact on the campus of North Marion High School, where she is a senior, and in the community.
For example, Kayla is one of the main contributors to a local community beautification project. She and a few other art students asked for permission to improve the Donald Skate Park by turning the ugly, sterile concrete into a city-center attraction through the addition of artwork murals. This year, she and her fellow art students are once again proposing to paint the "bowl" of the skate park. She has been at each of the meetings with the community city council, presenting her team's vision for the park, selling their ideas and following through with rejuvenating what used to be an eyesore.
Her artwork also hangs around her school. She did a series of paintings and photographs addressing the concept of bullying and how it impacts all involved. These thoughtful images, while sometimes haunting, teach a valuable lesson to the teenagers who see them daily.
On top of this, Kayla is polite, energetic, positive and conscientious.
Manners seem to be a lost art to teenagers these days. Teenagers seem to be constantly plugged into their music preferences or the latest news on social media. Often they are distracted and forget about manners — saying please, thank you, helping someone who dropped something, or holding a door for someone; they are too busy glued to their phone.
That is not the case for Mikayla Golka. She is the student who says "thank you" when a teacher hands her a test. She is the one who makes a point of greeting all students in the hallways during passing periods, rather than staring at her phone.
With the increasing ease of access to technology, social skills among teenagers have changed dramatically. There is less and less face-to-face interaction. And, unfortunately, many teenagers have developed some poor social habits as a result. This is one way that Kayla is truly special. She does enjoy social media, but she has kept a level head, and seems to be well-poised, patient and polite. These are rare qualities to see in a teenager of today.
However, perhaps what most sets Kayla apart is her community service.
Kayla is a natural at organizing her time efficiently. She must be, otherwise there would be no way she could earn all A's and B's in college-level classes while being a member of the National Art Honor Society, Operation Student Safety on the Move (a club dedicated to making safe decisions and living drug and alcohol free), National Honor Society, Future Business Leaders of America (where she does so well that she participates in regional and state competitions), Key Club, Drama Club (where she was the lead role in the two plays the school did this year), Outdoor School and, to top it all off, the school's jazz, pep and concert bands.
Her nominator, math teacher Remy Strapp, wrote, "I can't even fathom finding time to memorize the lines for the musical, practice three sets of music for band, act as Big Sister to a needy youngster in our district as part of her FBLA Big Brother Big Sister outreach program, and find time to volunteer for community service projects through Key Club.
"Truly this list is the longest I have seen in years," Strapp continued. "And, I know that Mikayla is not simply joining these clubs to build a nice looking resume. She is the one signing up to be leader for volunteer opportunities; she is the one earning her way to state competitions; she is the one shining on stage. Just one of these activities would eat up her free time. But, all of them combined must mean that she has very little time to simply relax and be a teenager."
Strapp also said, "I love seeing students take an active role in their community and Kayla has definitely done that."
Juan Arriaga is the only student on the Woodburn High School campus who is part of all three bands that are offered (concert, jazz and mariachi). He is the captain and the founder of the Woodburn Arts and Communications Academy Seminar Debate Club. Juan is an inspirational and trustworthy leader who cares about everyone more than he does about himself.
Lizeth Barbosa Herrera
Lizeth is an amazing kid for having organized the Woodburn High School campus fall blood drive. The drive surpassed its collection goal for the American Red Cross and was such a success that Lizeth started to plan a spring blood drive. Lizeth is also a successful student in class, taking many International Baccalaureate classes and challenging herself to do her best.
America is an outstanding person. She participated in the Mr. and Miss Gervais Pageant (and was named Miss Gervais), through which she raised money for the children of Doernbecher Children's Hospital. She maintains her grades and serves her community for the better. She is the senior class secretary but also is really involved with group projects. America's love for animals comes first. She cares for any animal she sees and hopes to help the dogs in Mexico one day.
Daisy Correa Altamirano
Daisy is one of those kids you look forward to seeing every day. She is not only an outstanding basketball team player, but she has the mindset to work as one team. She never has a day were she is not smiling. She has the potential to help the community. She reportedly has worked on a project to benefit St. Joseph Shelter in Mount Angel by collecting and donating more than 60 blankets. A tutor for her sister and a loving daughter, she is also an amazing student with a GPA of 3.891 and works hard to maintain her grades the best she can, all while doing community service projects.
Uriel is an inspiring young man in the community. Despite taking the most rigorous courses in his school and excelling in them, participating in sports, and having a part-time job, he still manages to make time to serve those in need. Since his sophomore year of high school, he has been actively involved in the Youth Advisory Board, contributing more than 150 volunteer hours through events like Relay for Life and Dia Del Nino, as well as through an annual toy drive, which he spearheaded, that benefited more than 160 low-income children this past December. He also helps with Family University, where Spanish-speaking parents learn how to speak, read and write in English. He is the youth representative on the Woodburn Recreation and Parks Board. Uriel isn't one to wait around for people to do things; he takes initiative and tries to find ways to make things better. Uriel is a leader at home, school and in his community. He has inspired many youths to get more involved in Woodburn whether it be through sports, academics or just volunteering in city events. You don't come across many kids that have a passion for service like he does. His commitment to service is genuine. Uriel understands the value of giving back.
Leo accomplishes significantly more than other students at North Marion High School in a year. One accomplishment this year was the creation of a video asking students and parents to support the school bond. He did it all on his own without being asked, and he was able to get others involved to support the bond as a result. He also participates in band and choir, jazz band, Ballet Folklorico and soccer, all while holding down a part-time job. His character is focused on helping others and finding a way to make a difference. He is totally committed to improving the community and doing everything he can to help out.
Angie Garcia is an amazing kid. She has been an active member of the Youth Advisory Board, Link Crew and National Honor Society. As this year's NHS president, she has implemented a project of cleaning up after basketball games to help out the janitorial staff. She has motivated many NHS members to get involved. Angie is an amazing and caring young woman who is always looking for ways to help others and to be kind.
Cynthia Gonzalez Mendoza
Cynthia volunteers her time at Bauman Farms during the fall and she is secretary for Aguilas de Oro at Gervais High School. In that club, she took the initiative to lead and teach the group two ballet folklorico dances. She cares for her peers and is a positive bilingual role model to those around her. When she is not at dance practice she spends her time taking stats for the basketball team and lends a hand when needed. She volunteered to be emcee for the school's winter performance, translating for Spanish-speaking families so they could understand and feel comfortable at the performance. She is a senior and wants to further her education after high school.
Gabriel always helps out in the community. He is the Associated Student Body president at Gervais High School and leads the school very well. He never excludes anyone; he is a friendly kid who makes everyone feel welcome. He has good grades and is very studious. Gabriel is an amazing kid.
Crystal & Felipe Ortega
Crystal and Felipe are dedicated students who face many more challenges than the typical high school student. This is because Crystal and Felipe's parents live in Mexico. Crystal and Felipe were sent to the United States to make a better life for themselves. They have an older brother in the area, but Crystal and Felipe are totally self-sufficient. They each have jobs, they work to pay rent and utilities on the mobile home they share, and they actually worry about sending money back home to their parents in Mexico. These are not typical teenage worries. Instead of worrying about what to wear or who to impress, arguably common teenage concerns, Crystal and Felipe worry about how they will find time to study while juggling two jobs and how to afford their college dreams (Crystal wants to be an architect or psychologist and Felipe wants to be a state trooper). Remarkably, they always have smiles on their faces. They are taking college level math classes, where they freely ask questions and help peers who struggle. Their enthusiasm, bubbly personalities and hard work are great qualities to have. Crystal and Felipe are proving that the American Dream is still possible, that one who works hard (no matter how difficult one's life situation is), can achieve great things.
Mariah was nominated by her teacher and FFA adviser, who said that over the last four years, she has watched Mariah grow and become a strong leader. She works tirelessly on school but dedicates her time to FFA equally. She works with younger members, helping them to achieve their goals. She has served as the North Marion FFA president this year and the Capital FFA District president the past two years. Her adviser wrote, "I cannot say enough things about the passion the young lady brings to our FFA chapter, our school and our community." Mariah is looking to attend Eastern Oregon University in the fall to continue her education in agriculture with an emphasis on water rights.
James is an amazing math student. James was taking high school math classes while still in middle school. Now, as a senior at North Marion High School, having run out of options, he signed up to take calculus AGAIN! This sounds crazy to most people, because let's face it, most people don't want to take it a first time. But James, wanting to keep his skills strong, signed up for it again so that he would be able to take calculus 3 through a community college this spring. His math teacher wrote, "I love this about him, and yes, I am partial since I teach math. But, how often do students really stretch themselves in any subject? James has and I am proud of him. Other students in our school admire him and want to be like him!"
Daisy is not just a good student, but she is active in many extracurricular activities. For at least a couple years ,she had been an announcer in Radio Movimiento for the program "AIS Rompiendo Barreras." When the opportunity was presented for students to host a radio program that would provide the community with information about the school, Daisy was the first person to raise her hand. She also participates in the club "Lenguas Indigenas," for which she is president. Additionally, she participates in ballet folkloric dance, tutors fellow students and was even crowned the 2017 Fiesta Mexicana queen. Daisy is not like any other student; she is special, she is kind and caring, and she is a good young role model. Her teacher who nominated her said, "I have known Daisy for four years and I have had the pleasure to have seen her interact with other students in a variety of ways. She has always demonstrated leadership and acted as a role model." Daisy is an amazing young girl who deserves to be recognized.
For her senior project, Leia Zadnik, a senior at St. Paul High School, organized a coat and clothing drive for the needy that was a competition between St. Paul High/Middle School, St. Paul Elementary School and St. Paul Parochial School. She was able to collect several boxes of clothing for this great event. Her principal, Tony Smith, who nominated her, said she did an amazing job.
Jacky is the most diligent student at Wellness, Business & Sports School, according to her nominator, with a flawless 4.0 GPA. She is curious and asks the most detailed questions. She is also willing to step out of her comfort zone, having done both intramural wrestling and CrossFit. She is a tenacious fighter. Jacky is also super impressive considering she is providing a lot of care for her little brother who has cystic fibrosis, with frequent visits to the hospital. She is an especially remarkable young woman.
Isabel is active in the Gervais High School Student Council, through which she helped to collect 1,000 shoes for the homeless. She volunteers with her church and serves as a young adult leader. Isabel nurtures and makes connections with young children who have experienced trauma. She volunteers to babysit for parents in the community who cannot afford daycare. Isabel has overcome significant academic challenges. She left Gervais for a few years, and when she returned she had fallen behind her peers in reading and math. Isabel was tenacious and worked to catch up to her grade level. She seeks to inspire others to overcome obstacles. Isabel has ambitions of further serving the community by working to become a middle school math teacher. Oregon schools desperately need people like Isabel working in education.
Vanessa Mon is amazing because of her positive attitude and willingness to learn and communicate. This student is also amazing because of her self drive and commitment to her work, providing others with a positive role model. Vanessa has been so impressive because she quietly and humbly advocates for her own well-being by avoiding peer pressure.
Robert is truly one of a kind! His will to succeed is unmatched. He is a student-athlete one can only hope to be. He participates in soccer, cross country, baseball, Link Crew and OHSU's On-Track program, all while still making academics his priority. Aside from being a well-rounded young man, he also has a heart of gold. In February, when his school was subject to a threat over social media, the office phones started ringing off the hook, parents lined the hallways, and everyone was trying to make it out the door. Robert, who is the office's second period office assistant, jumped into action, running around to get students, answering phones and assisting in any way possible. Even though he got permission from his mom to go home, he wanted to make sure the office staff was OK and had other helpers available before he left. His nominator wrote, "He is selfless, humble and would do anything for anyone in need. I can't thank him enough for his actions that day. Robert is my hero!"
Clysta is a talented ballet dancer who has worked with younger dancers at Willamette Ballet Academy. She is involved in her youth group worship team at church. At North Marion High School, she is an Associated Student Body officer, a drama club officer and a member of other clubs as well. Clysta plays saxophone in jazz band and is a dedicated and very talented actor and singer. She is quiet, hard-working and always has a smile to give.
Wesley is an excellent student athlete. He is tough and gritty. He is a two-time Guts Club recipient, runner-up at the wrestling state tournament and International Baccalaureate honor roll student. He is a phenomenal leader, sacrificing his lunch every day to mop the mats before practice. He always leads by example. Wesley is gracious and shakes each coach's hand at the end of practice. His nominator wrote, "As a teacher, coach, Boy Scout volunteer and church youth group leader, I have worked with thousands of kids. Wesley is among the best leaders I have worked with."
Andrew is awesome and helpful. He has been trying to keep his grades higher than a C and, so far, has managed to do so. He is also a talented and gifted kid. Andrew is very kind and helpful.
Gabriel has tried and accomplished having almost straight A's since he started at Valor Middle School. He is now in honor band. He is a talented and gifted kid.
Danna Saldivar Astorga
Danna is a WEB leader at French Prairie Middle School (WEB stands for Where Everyone Belongs). She is always willing to help, whether it's acclimating new students, supporting teachers with any task or volunteering. She helped with Love Santa this year and helped with the school's bottle drive. She is a model student with great grades and attitude.
Victoria Galicia is a student that embodies perseverance, dedication and generosity. She consistently impresses with her ability to achieve despite obstacles and with her caring attitude toward those who are different. Just last year, her father was deported to Mexico, and as the oldest child, she has taken on many of the household responsibilities. Despite the added stress, she greets her school staff and peers with smiles, hugs and a readiness to learn. Victoria, who is fully bilingual, is a natural leader; oftentimes, students will go to her for help and she embraces all of them, especially when it comes to helping students with different learning needs. Victoria's attitude and achievements deserve to be recognized as she grows into an active member of the Woodburn community.
Manuel is an excellent student in his Washington Elementary School dual language class, using English and Spanish fluently. He is eager and excited about learning. He has helped a newcomer to class with quiet translations when needed and teaching when the student does not understand. Recently he guided a newcomer on a field trip in Portland, keeping the boy feeling safe. He can always be counted on to do homework and projects on time and with good quality. He has excellent manners and refuses to be distracted from his work in class.
Aubrie makes friends everywhere she goes. Her kind heart makes her a very giving individual, to both young (like her baby sister) and old. She raised $110, some of which was her allowance money, for Pennies for Patients, a fundraiser for kids battling cancer. She's active in her church and often helps with community dinner, communion, putting together giving bags for the homeless and even giving her own money as offering on Sunday. She's been named "student of the month" every year since kindergarten. Aubrie is very aware of those less fortunate. When clothes don't fit, she has a plan for who they should be given to. She is constantly thinking of others and this is what sets her apart.
Kylie Kahut donated every Saturday in November to help with the Love Santa program. Kylie was the youngest volunteer — and a bilingual one at that — to help take names and information from families in need of assistance. Kylie also participated in wrapping presents and distributing gifts at the Hubbard Love Santa distribution days. Kylie, age 11, has been donating her time for four years. She is a tremendous help, is very focused on the task at hand and demonstrates maturity. This is not a task that Kylie was told she needed to do; this is something she looks forward to doing every year. This year Kylie actually talked her mom and sister into participating.
Quality local journalism takes time and money, which comes, in part, from paying readers. If you enjoy articles like this one, please consider supporting us.
(It costs just a few cents a day.)