South Siders win Chase awards

The Chase Youth Awards were presented March 26, and several South Side students received awards for citizenship, community service, courage, creativity, diversity, leadership, personal achievement and the Spirit of Jim Chase. There were four groups of nominations: youth, middle school, teens and adults.

Here is a listing of the South Side winners and a brief description of why they were nominated:

Middle school awards

Spencer Nelson: The eighth-grader at Sacajawea Middle School received the Middle School Leadership Award.

Spencer was nominated by his friend Matt Williams, a freshman at Lewis and Clark High School.

Williams said in his nomination letter that Spencer is the president of his eighth-grade class, works in the book room of the school, plays on the basketball team, plays soccer outside of school and becomes a leader by working hard and being respectful of those around him.

“Although he has a tiny body build and is on the short side, he never gives up and he works his hardest to make size a non-factor,” Williams wrote.

“Spencer puts in countless hours serving Sac as their ASB president and he frequently has to attend meetings about the best interest of the school.

“Spencer impacts everyone around him in a positive way.” Williams said that when his own family received bad news, Spencer was there for him.

“When we found out that my granddad had Alzheimer’s disease, I went straight to him. He helped me through it and I couldn’t have made it through without him.”

Teen awards

Matthew Duke: He is a Ferris High School senior who has been volunteering in the “Safe Haven” program for elementary and middle school students at the Edgecliff Neighborhood Center. The center was once Pratt Elementary School, where Duke went to school.

Duke received the Community Involvement Award for Teens.

Nominated by center director Becky Boyington, Duke has been a role model for the kids in the program by working in the computer room, kitchen and leading group activities.

“One example of Matt’s initiative and dedication was at Christmas when he suggested having each child make a wreath for their family. He oversaw all aspects from finding the fresh boughs to helping tie the decorative ribbon,” Boyington wrote in her nomination letter. “With enthusiasm we at Edgecliff Neighborhood Center recommend this very capable young man.”

HYPER-Formance Jazz Dance Club: The majority of students involved in the HYPER-Formance Jazz Dance Club come from low-income families throughout the area, and any child is accepted. The group won the Teen Group Award for Creativity.

Cynthia Hamilton, instructor for the group, wrote the nomination letter and knows that physical activity and exposure to the arts is vital for the children’s future.

“One of the first areas they can exercise the development of their ability to control a segment of their lives is in the mastery of their own physical motion,” Hamilton wrote. “Interesting physical activity at an early age sets a fine precedent for future activity, as opposed to watching television or other sedentary pursuits.”

The group also works with disabled students.

“We will work with any child who attends. We have worked with deaf, blind, club-footed, developmentally disabled and perfectly healthy, without any rancor or particular notice paid,” she wrote. “We feel it sets an excellent example to the other children.”

The dancers have classes all over Spokane, including the Northeast Community Center, West Central, Edgecliff Community Center, YWCA, the WSU Co-op Extension and the Libby Teen Center.

“This program has, since its inception, been focused upon relieving financial inequities, increasing opportunities and creating situations for mingling with purpose, all of which, it is hoped, promotes community.”

Ferris Action Team: Nominated by Ted Barnwell, a social studies teacher, Ferris Action Team won the Teen Group Award for Diversity.

“The Ferris Action Team is a club dedicated to build awareness of global and local issues and take action to educate and act on critical problems facing the world,” Barnwell wrote.

The group has been working throughout the school year to meet with refugee students at the Newcomer Center to help with reading and adjusting to American schools; they sponsored a fun run at Manito Park to raise $1,200 for the Invisible Children, a group that builds schools for displaced children in Uganda; they helped the Second Harvest Food Bank; and they hosted an activity room at the Adams Elementary School Cultural Night.

“FAT is a dedicated group of students who think about the world and engage students at Ferris High School and the community,” Barnwell wrote.

Nikolas Westfield: Nominated by school counselor Ann Kukuk. The senior at Gonzaga Prep won the Teen Spirit of Jim Chase Award for his accomplishments both in and out of school.

Westfield was born and raised in Germany, the son of a German teacher and an American Army colonel. He speaks German, French and English fluently and has a command of Latin. He has been enrolled in eight of Prep’s 11 advanced placement classes, is an accomplished singer who once sang in the Vienna Boys’ Choir, plays the violin and is a member of the Leadership Spokane Youth Program. He volunteers with Habitat for Humanity and traveled to Poland last summer to work in an orphanage.

“In all he does, his precise attention to detail bespeaks a learned, highly-intelligent fellow who thrives on knowledge and discovery through multiple intelligences,” Kukuk wrote. “Nikolas’ ability to organize his time to be involved in all his myriad endeavors seems truly noteworthy. Kind, polite and respectful beyond measure, Nikolas’ altruism is completely genuine.”

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