Youth Recognized for Overcoming Adversity
This year, Broomfield’s Youth Recognition Awards were more intimate — and condensed from two events into one dinner.
The program, now in eighth year, was hosted Tuesday evening by Broomfield Health and Human Services, A Precious Child and CASA of Adams and Broomfield Counties.
“Kids who do well all the time get a lot of recognition,” Vanessa Bain, an administrative technician with Child, Adult and Family Services, said. “People who are in the shadows a little and struggling and making good progress — we think they deserve to be recognized too.”
Bain said that in the past, youth were recognized at a Broomfield City Council meeting followed by a luncheon at the Chateaux At Fox Meadows. This year, the event was consolidated based on feedback from all parties involved.
Last year, there were about a dozen honorees, she said, compared to this year’s five students.
Every year, HHS sends notices to schools, churches, city and county employees and other civic leaders to submit student names for consideration.
Judge Katherine Delgado, with the 17th Judicial District, and Mayor Pro Tem Bette Erickson handed out awards and introduced guest speaker Jewel Arledge.
Arledge, a 2015 Broomfield Youth Recognition Award recipient, faced adversity from a young age — a father who was sent to prison when she was 2, being left in the care of her mentally unstable, drug addicted and abusive mother and eventually being placed in foster care at 15.
She was kicked out of that home at 17, she said, but managed to graduate high school with a high GPA. While in school, she served as president of her school’s National Honor Society, worked full-time, and volunteered for a non-profit organization.
Now, Arledge works two jobs and attends college with aspirations to double major in business communications and philosophy.
She has interned in Delgado’s office and one day hopes to pursue her juris doctorate in corporate law.
The two seniors received Chrome books and each award recipient got a gift bag with items such as an external phone battery charger, head phones, gift cards and school supplies.
One award recipient’s mother the award gave her son a boost to keep going and to keep being positive.
Grayson Bass , a middle school student at STEM Lab K-8 in Northglenn, was nominated by Principal Tracy Tellinger, STEM Coordinator Tracey Wise-Calderon, Counselor Dan Wiske and school psychologist Dr. Marcy Willard.
Grayson, who was diagnosed with Autism, works hard to overcome the social and emotional impact that Autism can cause, his nominators said.
“His great work ethic and support from his family has resulted in Grayson becoming an exceptional student,” Bain said.
He excels academically and is one of STEM’s top math students. He also excels and participates in many clubs and social groups, becoming a top performer in percussion and on the recorder.
His nominators said Bass is always kind to others, is a leader, mentor and role-model for younger students. He recently participated in a project that helped 4th graders learn how to code computers.
“Grayson’s determination and character are an inspiration to students and staff at STEM Lab.”
Jonathan Harris was nominated by Rachen Hagens, a social worker with Broomfield Health and Human Services.
Harris has experienced a great deal of turmoil as a young person and has had to work very hard to overcome many difficulties and obstacles, she said.
“With the support of his dad and foster mom, Jon has made great progress in improving himself, as well as, his relationships with his family,” Bain said. “Jon has recently graduated from Pathways School in Thornton and has become a positive support to his younger brother.”
Harris is also an avid BMX rider and has spent time as a volunteer building a dirt bike path in Broomfield.
Emily Nicaise , a senior at Broomfield High School, was nominated by counselors Gina Malecha and Janice Dempsey.
When she enrolled at Broomfield, Nicaise was significantly behind in academic credits and she and her family were working to overcome difficult circumstances at home. shelley
“At that time, Emily had little faith in her own abilities and did not have much hope,” Bain said. “With the support and encouragement of the Broomfield HS staff, Emily began to believe in herself and take ownership of her academic success.”
She caught up on her credits, is engaged in school activities and serves as a mentor to other students. She will graduate on time this spring.
Cameron Shelley , nominated by Legacy High School Counselor Karen Smith. Shelley, a sophomore at Legacy, is a wideout and defensive back, sustained a spinal cord injury, during football practice on Oct. 3.
After that injury, he has demonstrated great character and resilience.
“He has maintained a positive attitude and commitment to his academics during his physical rehabilitation,” Bain said during his recognition.. “With the loving support of his family, Cameron has become a role model to those around him by turning a very difficult situation into a positive life lesson in perseverance.”
Mary Strasser , who was nominated by Counselor Greg McDonald, is an 8th grader at Broomfield Heights Middle School.
He described her as a “humble, hard-working and responsible.”
In the past, Strasser’s family has experienced many hardships, obstacles and tragedies, he said. One way that she has stayed positive in the face of these trying circumstances is to ask herself ‘what she is grateful for,’ — a lesson she learned from her mother.
“She also relies on her strong faith in God to maintain a positive attitude and act as a role model to others who may also be facing hardships,” Bain said. “Mary has achieved the grade of excellence in all of her classes, meaning that she goes above and beyond expectations.”
School is Strasser’s escape when life is difficult and she dreams of one day becoming an author.
Jennifer Rios: 303-473-1361, firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter.com/Jennifer_Rios