Thursday, October 18, 2001

Golden Galaxy 2001 Winners

        This year's Golden Galaxy Award winners were culled from 281 nominees from 48 Greater Cincinnati schools. The award, Cincinnati Youth Collaborative, The Cincinnati Enquirer, Ashland Inc. Foundation and WKRC-TV (Channel 12) honors seniors who have demonstrated high academic achievement and have used their talents to serve the community. As tomorrow's leaders, these students live the spirit of the award: “A commitment to serve one's fellow many and create harmony in our community.”


        Emily Dietrich

        Mother of Mercy High School

        If all the world is a stage, Emily Dietrich plans to paint it.

        A member of the International Thespian Society, the National Honor Society, class co-president and a peer tutor, Emily uses her talents as a painter and a performer to help those around her. She teaches arts and crafts at the Kids Caf, an Over-the-Rhine children's enrichment program, and volunteers for ReStoc, an organization that provides low-income housing.

        She has traveled to impoverished parts of Appalachia to work on housing projects. Emily's favorite achievement is a mission trip to Honduras in 2000 where she painted the windows of a church in a stained-glass style. She also spent a lot of time with the orphanage's children, playing and drawing pictures for them. “I returned with a lot more than I had given. The children gave me a new sense of what is necessary in life and what is not. I've learned to live more simply and appreciate all that I have to the fullest.” She plans to return to Honduras in 2002.


Thomas Alan Curran

        Holmes High School

        There were as many “life lessons” as English lessons when accomplished young poet Thomas Alan Curran spent several hours a week working with younger students to improve their writing for their Kentucky's state-mandated portolios.

        “I had forgotten how many problems are faced in the 7th grade. I forgot what it was like to not know a voice, to be shy,” he said. More important than helping write essays, Thomas worked to help the students overcome their fears so they could read their work in front of the class and, more importantly, hosted a Safe-Place presentation to teach students where to go if they were in trouble or dealing with poor family situations.

        Thomas attended the Governor's School for the Arts 2001, won first place in the Northern Kentucky University Creative Writing Contest and scores of other awards for writing, community service to veterans and volunteering. He is co-editor or the school literary magazine and a member of the marching band.

Foreign Language

        Scott McDaniel

        Simon Kenton High School

        Scott McDaniels placed first in the state of Kentucky in the National French Exam but he works to use his abilities in both English and French to help others.

        Explaining difficult concepts to other students “gives me the personal satisfaction of knowing that I have made a difference,” Scott said. He is an outstanding student in English, science, history and math but his leadership does not end with classwork. He has helped establish a peer mediation program at the school and is treasurer for the National Honor Society.

        Principal Michael Tolliver calls Scott an ambassador for the French language through his active leadership of the French club, explaining the contributions of the French to business and literature. When the club adopted a needy family for the holidays, Scott helped organize and sort the donations.

General Scholarship

        Lauren Kuley

        Oak Hills High School

        Lauren Kuley is leaving a legacy of volunteerism for younger students while maintaining academic excellence.

        Ranked first in her class of 676, Lauren was inducted into the National Honors Society for 2001-2002, won the principal's award for the highest cumulative GPA, participates in Mock Trial and Ohio Model United Nations, and is an outstanding writer and math student.

        Lauren said that her creation of the Volunteer Outreach and Leadership Training (VOLT), a program that provides guidance and projects to introduce fifth-grade students to community service, is her largest contribution to the community. The group develops younger students as leaders by involving them in community activities including book drives which have collected more than 1,300 books for Cincinnati Childrens Hospital and Medical Center, valentines for nursing homes, programs on stereotyping and contributions for cancer victims. “If teenagers don't learn to think and act, they can never hope to alter existing attitudes or to define themselves,” Lauren said.


        Larry Shields

        Indian Hill High School

        Combining his passion for video journalism with his desire to help the community, Larry Shields has accumulated 1,700 hours of community service in three years and produced videos on subjects ranging from the school dress code to a profile of an athlete.

        Larry volunteers for Waycross Community Media, which coordinates community cable access productions, where he won the 2000 Waycross Silver Lens Cap Award. He also won the Alliance for Community Media's Blue Chip Cable Access award for the instructional/education category in 2001. A portion of Larry's video documenting a diver at his school was aired on WKRC-TV. sports segment.

        He produces “Indian Hill Schools Technology Update,” a public access program that informs the public about technology use within the school. “When school ends, I step out into the community to both learn and help in more than 40 communities,” Larry said.


        Adam Safdi

        Walnut Hills High School

        Adam Safdi's achievement in mathematics and his satisfaction from volunteering with the homeless add up to a sense of accomplishment and sensitivity for others.

        Ranked 10th in the state for Pre-Calculus on the Ohio Test of Scholastic Achievement, Adam was also honored by the Ohio General Assembly in 1997 for achieving a perfect score on the National Latin exam. In addition to his academic performance, Adam won Ohio Music Education Association awards from 1999 to 2001 for solo vocal performances.

        He tutors students and helped raise money for Children's Hospital and Medical Center and the Children's Theater. Adam said through the Interfaith Hospitality Network which helps homeless people find a home and a job, he serves meals and plays with the children. “I am reminded how fortunate I am ...I am also touched to realize that something as simple as spending time with someone else can make that person happy.”


        Tricia Sickinger

        Lockland High School

        Living in a small community with a small budget for the high school band doesn't hold Tricia Sickinger back.

        A top-flight clarinet player, she is a member of the drill team and field commander. When the band qualified for state competition, the students raised the money for the trip selling candy bars, washing cars, and hold bake sales. In fact they raised enough to stay overnight at a hotel. After receiving a rating of excellent in the competition, she said “I have never been so proud of myself, and the rest of the band.”

        Tricia is also captain of the varsity cheerleading squad, a basketball player and a member of the volleyball team. She was the most valuable player in her freshman and junior years on the varsity softball team.


        Benjamin Robert Schulte

        William Henry Harrison High School

        Benjamin Robert Schulte shares his fascination and expertise in physics and science with elementary students in his Harrison school district as well as at Cincinnati's Museum Center.

        Last year he designed a maze on a computer for the Minges Pumpkin Festival. The students calculated the number of bales of straw needed, built the maze and staffed it for the two days of the festival. “It was an incredible experience to see something that had drawn on paper become a popular attraction at the pumpkin festival ” he said,“...It makes me eager to get out in the world and design things that will change people's lives.”

        The $3,000 raised by the project was used for physics students to travel to national competitions at Case Western Reserve University, the JETS Engineering Competition at the University of Cincinnati, the Science Olympiad Competition at Cincinnati State College and the Science Olympiad State Competition in Columbus.

        Benjamin has won first place in the Mission Possible Science Olympiad Regional Competition, and second place in Overall Team Rating, Science Regional Competition.

Social Science

        Jenny Thumann

        Mount Notre Dame High School

        At the top of a list of Jenny Thumann's accomplishments is her role as Big Sister to an Over-the-Rhine child this year.

        The experience has changed her life, says the honors student who excels in French, math, religion and chemistry.

        She and her “little sister,” go to parks, easter egg hunts, Playhouse in the Park, the Newport Aquarium and they walked together in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day March downtown. Cincinnati's April riots cancelled some of their outings but the pair “still talked on the phone, not about the riots, but about things that could take her mind off of the unrest around her.” Looking past the violence of the streets, Jenny said, there are “apartments where many young, confused, and scared children were forced to stay.”

        Jenny also went on a Missions Trip to Jonesville, Va., to help clean, paint and repair a house damaged by flood.


        Lauren Hilgeford

        Notre Dame Academy

        An accomplished storyteller, Lauren Hilgeford coaches youngsters in volleyball and works with the disabled.

        She has been on the Notre Dame Academy's speech and drama team for the three years, and has been a state semifinalist and a regional finalist in storytelling. She uses her speaking abilities as member of L.I.F.E., the school's anti-abortion club, and as a Spanish tutor. A coach and an athlete, Lauren is also a lifeguard at the Four Seasons Country Club, where she rescued a 2-year-old girl from the bottom of a pool last year. Lauren said that her experience volunteering at the Redwood Rehabilitation Center, a school for people with severe mental and physical disabilities, has changed her life. She uses her dramatic talents to read stories and help students with crafts and work projects.

        “My service made me realize how lucky I am to be so blessed,” Lauren said. “I am also more patient and more accepting of others.”


        Whitney T. Brindle

        Highlands High School

        Whitney Brindle, while achieving numerous academic and athletic awards, givers her to several children's activities and helped a fellow classmate achieve mobility after a debilitating car accident.

        She works with children extensively, participating in Bible school, community Easter egg hunts and a police program for underprivileged children.

        A major accomplishment for Whitney has been a fundraising effort to help a friend paralyzed in a car accident. Through e-mails, speaking engagements and raffle tickets, Whitney raised $44,000 to help send her friend to a clinic in California for rehabilitation.

        Whitney is a member of the National Honor Society and has lettered in drama, tennis and as a varsity scholar.


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