The winners of the City of Allentown and the Allentown Presidents’ Council “Catch a Young Person Doing Something Right” campaign were honored at a reception on Tuesday, February 24, 2015 at 6:30pm at Lincoln Leadership Academy on the campus of LifeChurch at 1401 E. Cedar Street. The event was originally scheduled for January 27, but was postponed due to inclement weather.
Launched in 2012, the “Catch a Young Person Doing Something Right” campaign is a way to recognize the numerous young people who contribute to the well-being of Allentown.
According to Mayor Ed Pawlowski, “The city and the members of this community are fortunate to be served by many committed individuals. The desire to help those in need extends beyond caring adults to our young residents too. I am extremely proud to recognize these young people and thank the adults who took the time and effort to nominate them.”
Residents were encouraged to submit names of youth they’ve “caught doing something right.” Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald, Police Detective Pedro Cruz, Ernie Atiyeh and Milly Canales of the Presidents’ Council and city Neighborhood Coordinator Phyllis Alexander were asked to judge the nominations. Sixteen individuals and one group received a Catch a Young Person Doing Something Right award.
The students were feted at a catered awards dinner sponsored by LifeChurch. They received certificates from the mayor and state and federal legislators.
Outstanding, Amazing Young Person Award:
Brock Molchany (8) – nominated by Officer Dean D. Flyte - Brock contributed well over $100.00 worth of dog food, treats and other items to the Humane Society. He had bought all the pet supplies from his own money, which he had saved over the course of the past year. Brock does this every year. Last year he donated approximately $100 in toys to Toys for Tots. The year before last he donated items to children in need through Twice Blessed. Brock also volunteers at Twice Blessed during the summer with his grandmother. Since the age of 3, donations have been made to various charities in his name. As an 8-year-old, Brock has taken on the responsibility of these donations and insists on using only money that he has earned over the year.
Edgar Marquez, Jr (11) – nominated by Angela Kemp – A student’s Minecraft book was stolen. Edgar and a teacher walked to each 5th grade classroom and Edgar attempted to identify the student that took the book. After walking to each class Edgar let his teacher know he didn’t recognize the student. “You could tell Edgar felt really bad.” The next day, Edgar came to school early as usual because he volunteers to help out in the classroom before the students arrive. On this occasion he walked into Ms. Kemp’s homeroom “and in his hands he had the full set of 4 Minecraft books. He said he felt so bad for my student, that he wanted him to have his set of Minecraft books.” Edgar had purchased the books with his own money. Edgar turned a challenging and sad story into a happy ending.
Mohamed Bayoumy (17) – nominated by Richard Staudenmeier – One morning on the way to school Mohamed came upon a young girl without shoes running around and crying hysterically. Mohamed approached the first responsible adult he could identify, Glenn Guanowsky. The child was only able to tell them that she was looking for her daddy and no one was home where he lived. Together Mr. Guanowsky and Mohamed took the girl to a nearby child care center where Allentown Police were summoned. Soon thereafter the police and the girl’s mother arrived. Mr. Guanowsky wrote a letter to Superintendent Mayo stating “he was extremely impressed by the fact that Mohamed was being a very kind young man and had been able to calm this child down to the point that we could engage in a bit of a conversation with her. Mohamed is an empathetic, mature young man who demonstrated maturity and compassion beyond his years.” Mr. Staudenmeier concludes the nomination by saying “This story is absolutely believable for anyone who knows Mohamed. He is an empathetic, mature young man and I had nothing but respect for him prior to hearing of this incident. This situation just confirmed what I always knew to be the case: Mohamed is an exceptional human being.”
Extraordinary Young Person Award:
Leanna Pallero (7) – nominated by Officer Christopher McCarty - A violent criminal was being chased by officers. He ran into Leanna’s house and Leanna was extremely scared by the apprehension and struggle with the suspect inside her house. The suspect was unknown to the family. Leanna had a very difficult time understanding what happened and was expressing fear and extreme anger toward the police. At an event her mother and father brought up this situation and concerns for their daughter. They had been asking for help, but did not receive any and did not know where to turn. Members of the Allentown Police Department Youth Division began meeting with Leanna at her house. Leanna quickly began to forge a relationship and regain her trust with police officers. Leanna and her family keep in contact with the officers and have become strong partners in the community. Leanna did a testimonial at her church about her new relationship with the police and no longer fears law enforcement. She earned Student of the Year honors at Ramos Elementary School in 2014 and on Dec 19, 2014 received a citizenship award at the school. She often talks about “her friends the police” to teachers and students. Leanna’s willingness to grow and build strong ties with the Allentown Police Department stands as a shining example. She has become a true role model for other students.
Sean Gross (9) – nominated by Officer Neil Battoni – Sean was a victim of a robbery in which he was assaulted and had his tablet stolen. During the investigation, the officer learned Sean is an outstanding student academically and was liked by all his peers. Sean’s principal also told the officer that Sean was extremely polite and courteous in school. Sean’s mother and father both state that Sean helps out at home, does chores around the house and never gives them any problems. During the entire investigation Sean always had a smile on his face and never held any animosity towards his attackers. Sean told the officer that even though the incident scared him it did not deter him from going outside and playing in his neighborhood. Sean told the officer he had aspirations of becoming a police officer one day so he could help other people and solve crimes like the one in which he was a victim.
Jaissel Ferreira Guzman (10) – nominated by Jill Blasucci – Jaissel and his family moved to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic in 2012. In 2013, Jaissel enrolled in Muhlenberg Elementary and was in 4th grade. Jaissel’s English proficiency was assessed and he was scheduled to receive specialized English instruction-ESOL-daily. In only one year, Jaissel learned to speak, read and write English so well that he exited the ESOL program. This is an incredible accomplishment and he achieved this by maintaining a positive attitude and applying himself in all of his classes. Jaissel always has a smile on his face and is willing to help his peers. He encourages other students with kind words and is an asset to any group of students with whom he is working. He asks questions and has a natural curiosity to learn more. He is an enthusiastic writer. The ESOL facilitator has witnessed this young man develop from a beginning learner of English to a proficient speaker, reader, and writer.
Anas Mdarhri (10) – nominated by Brad Huttie - In mid-October 2014 Anas began helping me with keeping the café clean pretty much every day since and taking trash to dumpsters. His help has been more than a blessing to the school district. He also has not missed a single day of school.
Antinio Lugo (11) – nominated by Liayn Morris - transitioning to 6th grade can be a difficult and scary time for students. Most students use their lunch time to socialize or to interact with peers. Antinio uses his lunch time (after he eats) to help others. Every day, he volunteers his own free time to help maintain a clean and safe atmosphere in the cafeteria. Antinio sets an excellent example for others by his altruistic spirit and his positive decision making skills. He offers to show new students to their classes and how to open their lockers. Antinio seems genuinely motivated to make the right choices regardless of the time of day or setting.
Emanuel Hernandez (11) – nominated by Melissa Bowers - Emanuel is a wonderful, kind boy and pleasure to have in class. He consistently goes out of his way to help other students, both academically and on a personal level. Emanuel has worked with children with special needs and is interested in learning American Sign Language in order to communicate with more children. He always has a smile on his face and constantly tries to please others. Emanuel is currently planning on surprising his classmates by bringing each one a present for the holiday season.
Takira Glasgow (11) – nominated by Suzie Bichorsky, Cynthia Wenner and Heather Bortz - Takira conducts herself with the upmost grace, dignity and maturity. She demonstrates compassion and understanding for others while taking her scholastic responsibilities to heart. Takira approached her teacher at the beginning of the school year requesting a seat change so that she could more fully concentrate in class. She said, “I take school seriously and I want to do well.” Before honoring her request the teacher challenged Takira to step forward as a leader and model the class expectations for her team. Under her leadership the team rose to Takira’s standards and became one of the most productive units both socially and academically. Further into the year, all students changed seats and it is no surprise students are once again rising to Takira’s standards. Takira plans to go to Drexel to study medicine and Harvard to obtain her PH.D. She wants to be a neurologist. She says, “I know it will take a long time and it will be a risk but I like school.”
Andrew Mumma (12) – nominated by Sharon Sowers - Andrew is the epitome of a good role model. He is a 12-year-old 6th grader who attends South Mountain Middle School. He takes his studies very seriously and is well prepared for every test and class. As a result, he has excelled academically. He shows strong leadership qualities in a variety of situations. These characteristics are apparent in his respect for others and in the various situations in which students respond to him. Without fail, Andrew is dependable, responsible and trustworthy. Andrew is an active member of the Lego Club. He played the violin during 3rd, 4th and 5th grade. Andrew is active in community service. He is a member of Emmanuel United Methodist Church. He volunteers regularly for the church’s pancake breakfast. He is active in Operations Christmas Child, providing shoebox gifts to underprivileged children in the Allentown School District. He is currently involved in the church Christmas play.
Luis E. Justo (15) – nominated by Lee A. Butz - Luis, after arriving in the U.S. from the Dominican Republic, became fluent in English in two years – so fluent that his academic achievements generated his being moved a grade higher than his classmates of the same age. Luis recently participated in “Upward Bound,” a college preparatory program through East Stroudsburg University. Luis has demonstrated leadership qualities, both in and out of the classroom. He is Director of the Design team of the William Allen Construction Company, a student-run program that manages projects at Allen High. He is an excellent baseball player and has demonstrated his outstanding leadership qualities on the baseball field by mentoring the younger players. He was chosen by the Allentown Drive baseball team to represent it at a recent banquet held by the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.
Kira Butz (16) – nominated by Peggy Robb Egolf – Kira showed initiative, creativity, responsibility, determination and talent when she volunteered to make a video of West Park’s 40th Anniversary Art-in-the-Park. Kira showcased participating visual and performing artists. Kira interviewed the artists, set the video to music and edited her footage into a coherent video that can be seen on YouTube, the West Park Civic Association website, West Park’s Facebook page and the Allentown School District website. Her video has received glowing reviews. On the day of the Art-in-the Park event, Kira also performed with the William Allen High School Double String Quartet. The group performed so well they were asked to play at a wedding. Kira is involved in many William Allen activities including chorus, orchestral chorale, show choir and field hockey. She has also been in various theatrical productions. Kira volunteered her time to create a video for the Allentown School District Foundation High Notes Gala in 2013 and 2014. Kira has organized a fundraiser; she volunteers her time at Allentown School District middle schools and more. “Kira Butz is truly an asset to William Allen High School, the community, and the City of Allentown.”
Kevin Lopez (16) – nominated by Theresa Kemp - Kevin attends school daily and ignores negative peer behavior. Kevin helped make all the decorations for the airport Christmas tree and nursing homes around the valley. Kevin also went to different nursing homes and decorated them to make them a more festive place for the holidays. Kevin is always willing to help out staff and students with whatever they need and doesn’t hesitate to take on extra responsibilities. He volunteers to help when he can and assists in any way needed.
Neil Garland (17) – nominated by Detective Bill Williams - Neil was the victim of harassment, humiliation, and bullying in the Allen High cafeteria. Neil was slapped on the back of the head while several other boys were making a “smack cam” video. Neil could have made the decision to respond in the same manner, but he did not. Instead, he displayed critical thinking and problem solving by showing restraint. Afterward he demonstrated poise and determination to make sure the incident was handled properly. Throughout the legal proceedings, Neil showed character and integrity by talking about what happened without malice. Neil is taking AP courses and doing well in school.
Marc Colon (17) – nominated by Kathy DuPont – In addition to maintaining good grades and being a positive peer influence Marc spends time volunteering for various organizations throughout the Lehigh Valley and within the school. Marc has helped organize numerous events at William Penn School and spearheaded an event called “Change for Childhood Cancer” to raise money to fight childhood cancer. “Change for Childhood Cancer,” in honor of Marc’s late friend Charangelo Wilson, collected change and raised $116.00 that was donated to increase awareness of childhood cancer. In November 2014, Marc joined the campaign to write letters to troops overseas. He also helped pack care packages for the troops. Later during November 2014, Marc worked on Thanksgiving placemats and decorations for Valley Manor and Rehab Center. Marc then got into the Christmas spirit and began making several types of Christmas decorations for different places around the Lehigh Valley. Marc is a role model to his peers and will always leave you smiling!
Fabulous Student Group Award:
United Youth Party – nominated by Michael Frassetto -These young people have an intrinsic motivation to help their generation and their community. They are humble and unselfish. They already put in 1000 hours of community service and planning at their young age and all earned at least a 3.5 GPA. They are in the midst of planning three more community service events in Allentown for the first half of 2015. They have been essential to the success of United Youth and have already been involved in planning events that had anywhere from 140 to 660 people in attendance. They market the mission of the United Youth on social media, do the accounting and grant writing and also organize meetings with leaders in the Lehigh Valley.
For more information on the event contact Neighborhood Coordinator Phyllis Alexander at 610-437-7679.