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Award recipients for the 2019 Youth Appreciation Day

Area students and members of the Optimist Club pose for a photo on Friday at Hy-Vee.

Several area young people were honored Friday for their school smarts and efforts outside the classroom.

The students from all three local area high schools were honored by the Optimist Club during a presentation at the Hy-Vee in Columbus. Students are nominated by their teachers. The ones that are nominated get to take part in the Youth Appreciation Day ceremony.

The Optimist Club itself has been around for over 100 years, with the Columbus chapter having started in 1953.

Two students each from Lakeview, Scotus and Columbus high schools were nominated for the special presentation.

Students nominated were Aaron Chin (Lakeview), Madeline Fremarek (Lakeview), Karissa Gleeson (CHS), Ryan Sims (CHS), Breana Lassek (Scotus) and Drew VunCannon (Scotus).

Bob Stachura, a member of the Columbus Optimist Club, said he was how proud of of all the students recognized, noting their busy schedules.

“These are truly well-rounded kids. Every one of these kids are all 4.0 (GPA) students. I don’t know how they sleep with everything that they have going on … It’s just an honor for the students. I’ll tell you what, they are really well-rounded students," Stachura said.

He said the whole purpose of it all is so that the youth can be honored and awarded for their work.

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Shannon Dush, a committee member for the Optimist Club, expressed a lot of gratitude on behalf of the students that received awards for the day.

“For us, it’s really refreshing. It’s really nice to hear the level of the things that they (the students) are involved in the community. These are students who are all very busy, so they have a lot going on," Dush said. "Yet, even in everything that they do in all of their volunteering, they still maintain excellent grades academically…That is really impressive to me just from that standpoint.

"Our philosophy with the Optimist Club is improving the lives of our youth, so we really give back to some of these organizations within our community, so it’s nice to see that some of these youth are giving back as well."

Dush added that she was impressed with the attendance of the parents at the event since it shows just how invested the parents are in this, just as much as their kids involved.

“The parents came, one or both of them came for these students, so I also commend the parents … It’s really nice to see,” Dush said.

She later praised those at the schools because of their hard job of selecting which kids should receive the award.

“The counselors do a really good job of choosing students," she said. "I’m sure that it’s hard to choose since there are a lot of students out there that do a lot in the community and maintain the good grades.”

David Becker is a news reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at david.becker@lee.net.

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