So, when Our Lady of Refuge students aren’t busy attending classes or hitting the books, what are they up to? Apparently many different things, including: sports, the arts, public speaking and good citizenship.
Savanna, a third grader, has participated in gymnastics since she was 2 ½ years old and has been competing for the past four years. Savanna first competed throughout Michigan, but now at Junior Olympics, Level 4, she also competes in Ohio, Indiana, Florida, Illinois, and Texas. She is currently the Michigan vault champion, is ranked fifth in the state on bars, and ninth all around. Savanna has won numerous medals, but this first place in vault was especially satisfying. Throughout this year, Savanna struggled with vault. The state competition was her first 9 of the season, and it couldn’t have come at a better time! Though Savanna is a “natural”, none of her many medals have been won without hard work and sacrifice. She trains four days per week, four hours per session. Savanna’s mom summed it up, “Gymnastics is [Savanna’s] life; we just support her.”
Daniel is a seventh grader frequently seen in OLR drama productions, performing with other band students, and on the Honor Roll. Outside of school, he is growing his skills as a pianist. Daniel says he has been studying piano since he was four or five years old. How did such a young lad take an interest in piano? Well, Daniel is following in the footsteps of his parents who are concert pianists. In addition to the usual Middle School homework load, Daniel makes time to practice piano. He generally practices half an hour to an hour per day, upping that to an hour or more when preparing for a performance or competition. Every year, Daniel takes part in the American Guild of Music Regional Competition generally placing second or third. However, this year, the hard work paid off. Daniel was awarded a first in the Test List category as well as thirds in two other categories.
Anyone who knows Skye knows that her passion is dance. She dances and trains six days per week and participates in dance competitions. Recently, Skye’s passion for dance and her academics overlapped. Annually, the local Optimist Club sponsors an oratorical contest. Students 18 and under are encouraged to “speak to the world” via a four to five minute speech. This year’s topic was: “How My Passions Impact the World”. OLR’s eighth grade English students began the entry process by writing then presenting their speeches in front of their teachers, peers, and Mr. Pyles, the school principal.
Skye, who is a seasoned competitive dancer, faced a whole new set of fears when required to speak publicly about her passion for dance. Some of the descriptors of her feelings, as she performed her speech, are indicative of the challenge this was for her: “…wasn’t too thrilled,” “…so nervous every time,” and then, as the school winner performing before the Keego Harbor Optimist Club judges: “…really freaked me out.” Through it all, Skye met each challenge and was ultimately asked to represent Keego Harbor in regional competition. The girl who didn’t really “…want to do the speech in the first place,” was now being asked to represent the wider community. Her best response to the experience came after attending regionals. “I attended regionals and even though I didn’t win anything, it was still worth it to go and take advantage of [an experience] life gave me. You never know if something little can benefit you greatly. I have grown as a public speaker and a person.”
Eighth graders John and Taylor were recently recognized by the Keego Harbor Optimist Club for being Outstanding Middle School Students for the year 2013-2014. Nominated by Principal Pyles, this award recognizes students from Keego Harbor, Sylvan Lake and Orchard Lake for their success, determination, and overall performance in and out of the classroom. The traits needed for this award will help the boys to continued success as they graduate from OLR and move on to high school – John to Brother Rice and Taylor to Orchard Lake St. Mary.