Top Of The Middle

Eleven counties, hundreds of middle school students but only two winners, one boy and one girl.

For the second time in four years, both were Youngsville Middle School students.

The Pennsylvania Association for Middle Level Education (PAMLE) recently announced winners of this year’s Joan Jarrett Outstanding Middle Level Students Award.

Northwest region honorees were Joshua Frazier and Rebekah Hogg, both 7th Grade students at Youngsville.

“I was shocked,” Hogg said of the news. “I didn’t do as much at the school as I did other stuff.”

“I was pretty excited when I heard I got it,” Frazier recalled.

Each year, one boy and one girl are honored as “outstanding young adolescents” in each of the five PAMLE regions across the state, according to PAMLE. Students honored must demonstrate “leadership abilities, good citizenship and should have made positive contributions to their school and community.”

“It’s not easy to get this award,” Youngsville Elementary Middle School (YEMS) Principal Eric Mineweaser said. “I’m happy for the students.”

The nominations process for the award begins in November, Mineweaser said. All YEMS middle school students are asked to fill out a form which includes questions on both school-related and community activities. Teachers are then asked to recommend nominees to be sent to PAMLE.

Each PAMLE member school may nominate one boy and one girl for consideration for the award by Dec. 15. Nominees are then evaluated by a group of state level educator judges to determine award winners.

“I told them (Hogg and Frazier) there are a lot of students competing for this, so don’t get upset if you don’t win or if one of you wins and the other doesn’t. In our eyes, you’re our middle level students for the building,” Mineweaser said. “They’re definitely model students. They’re leaders.”

The nomination letters Mineweaser sent to PAMLE in support of Frazier and Hogg present a list of activities indicating active involvement both in and out of school.

Frazier is president of the student council, a consistent honor/merit student, volunteers with his church, is a member of his church group “Fuel”, actively helps younger students, assists adults when needed, participates in various youth groups, led student council in a Thanksgiving food drive which garnered hundreds of pounds of food to help 25 local families, is volunteering in an effort to build a new church on Davis St., is set to embark on a mission trip to Mexico this year and, with his family, supports a child through the International Childcare Ministries.

Hogg is also an honor/merit student, aids her classmates with assignments, is involved with the district gifted program and competes in numerous mathematics competitions, contributes to the school’s “Reading Buddy” program by reading to elementary school children, is a member of National Junior Honor Society, is a member of the Walking Club, is a member of the grade seven chorus and participated in the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) District Chorus, is active in her church, is a “Praise Team” member, participates in a 30-hour famine event each year to raise money for needy children in Malawi, raises money to buy shoes for needy African children through “Soles of Souls”, participated in the Allegheny River Clean-up event and road clean-ups, is a 4-H member, plays volleyball and softball, was nominated to the “People to People Ambassador Program”, was nominated to the Junior National Young Leaders Program and helps a neighbor with horseback riding.

“They’re much more mature for their age than the average student,” Mineweaser noted. “It’s a pleasure to have them in our building. They’re student role models. I’m very proud of them.”

As to how they felt about the award, Frazier and Hogg agreed it’s about community involvement.

“I just kind of like helping people,” Hogg explained. “Making their lives better.”

“There’s always kids who get straight A’s and get recognized,” Frazier pointed out. “It’s pretty cool to get recognized for this.”

A $100 donation to a charity of their choice will be made by PAMLE in the name of each student.