Students are making a difference every day, from bringing joy into others’ lives, to saving them.
Ten of those students were honored recently during the final Do the Right Thing Awards ceremony of the school year. The Do the Right Thing program rewards students for making positive choices, said Fort Mill Police Dept. Lt. Ray Dixon, who helped launch the program a few years ago.
“If we as officers can get the adults we deal with to act like these kids, the world would be a lot better,” he said.
This quarter’s grand prize winner was Fort Mill High School sophomore Nick Greek.
Greek, 15, didn’t get a strong start as a wrestler his freshman year, but worked hard to improve. He trained in the off season and he finished this past season with a record of 18-4. During the last tournament of the season, Greek was matched up with a student with Down syndrome from Clover High School. He immediately decided who was going to win that match.
“You look at someone that most likely doesn’t have opportunities like that (and want to give them a chance),” Greek said.
According to the nomination form, the wrestler said, “I just wanted him to have the opportunity to experience success and have the amazing feeling of getting your hand raised at the end of a match.”
Greek said he grew up in a Christian household and is called to help others.
“It’s part of my background,” he said.
Greek has faced his own hardships. In 2007, his family lost everything in a house fire and his mother was recently diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder – idiopathic intracranial hypertension – characterized by pressure in the brain, according to the nomination form.
Despite all his obstacles, Greek has a 4.0 grade-point average and is taking all honors classes. He is also a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Helping others is also a big part of Nation Ford High School senior Hannah Wells’ life. During her freshman year, the school received a grant from the Special Olympics to start an inclusive program for Special Olympic athletes, according to the nomination form. Wells, 18, joined the unified cheerleading team.
A member of the Beta Club, the marching band and the Egg Nog Club, a holiday-centered community service group, Wells said her favorite thing to do is work with the Special Olympic athletes.
“Your brightening kids’ lives, but they are also brightening yours,” she said. “They are unconditionally accepting of everyone.”
Wells takes AP and honors classes and finds time to hang out with the members of Club UNIFY, a Special Olympics club for elementary students. She also invited two students with autism to join her and her friends at the senior breakfast event, according to the form.
While Wells’ small acts of kindness brought joy to other students’ lives, Springfield Middle School eighth-grader Nick Graham’s action saved a life.
Graham, 13, came across a note that a friend wrote detailing her intentions to commit suicide, according to the nomination form. Graham said he was shocked by the note and immediately reported it to a staff member at the school.
“She’s a very nice girl and I don’t feel like anyone should deprive themselves of the gift of life,” he said.
The student was given the help she needed and today walks around the school with a smile on her face, according to the nomination form.
Graham said it felt good to be recognized by the Do the Right Thing Awards program.
“I’m hoping this inspires some further acts of kindness,” he said.
The winners took home gift bags filled with gift cards, a Do the Right Thing certificate and T-shirt and a 16 GB iPod touch, thanks to an anonymous donor, Lt. Dixon said. Greek also took home a bag with even more gift cards and a Do the Right Thing plaque.
The winners are:
Nick Greek: Fort Mill High School – sophomore – grand prize winner - During the last wrestling tournament of the season Greek let his Clover High School opponent, who has Down syndrome, win the match.
Kyle Shirk: Fort Mill Middle School, seventh grade – Shirk helped a new student from Haiti in Spanish class and get along with other students.
Victoria Robinson: Fort Mill Middle School, sixth grade – Robinson volunteers in a kindergarten classroom at Fort Mill Elementary school each morning, helping the students sharpen their reading skills and finish their morning classwork.
Tri Nguyen: Fort Mill Middle School, eighth grade – Nguyen came to Fort Mill from Vietnam two years ago, and despite English not being easy for him, quickly got to the level of his peers and enrolled in gifted and talented classes. Nguyen also wrote a novel as part of a class assignment, which ended up being more than 60,000 words, much higher than the 10,000 word requirement. He also volunteers in charity fundraisers and is active in school clubs.
Wesley Johnson:- Fort Mill Middle School, eighth grade – Johnson turned his life around after not doing well in elementary school. He is now enrolled in GT classes and is on the all-A honor roll. Johnson is also a student body officer on the student council and is president of the school’s Friends of Rachel club, which works to end bullying.
Alexis Vaughn: Fort Mill Middle School, seventh grade – Vaughn was in trouble consistently in sixth grade due to poor choices. She disrespected her classmates and often seemed unhappy or angry, according to her nomination. However, she turned everything around this year and has been pleasant to both her peers and teachers.
Taylor Cobb: Fort Mill Middle School, seventh grade – During a mile run in PE class, Cobb noticed another student had become winded and too tired to continue to run. Despite being competitive and wanting to always do her best, Cobb stopped to help the student finish and receive a good grade for completing the run.
Kayla Bivens: Nation Ford High School – senior – Bivens attends class with a student who has Asperger’s syndrome, a developmental disorder that can make it difficult to effectively socialize and communicate. When other students were making fun of this student, Bivens stood up for him, becoming a target of the bullies herself. However, she did not want to get those students in trouble and knew she had done the right thing.
Hannah Wells: Nation Ford High School – senior – Well works with Special Olympics athletes and makes sure to include special needs students in activities with her friends.
Nick Graham: Springfield Middle School – eighth grade – Graham saved a friend’s life by turning in her suicide note to a member of the school’s staff.