Left: Kara Johnson, Mackensi Crenshaw and Donovan Varney. Right: Ellis Blackstone
Approximately 350 Westerville community members gathered at Villa Milano on Monday morning, January 19, to celebrate the life and message of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. WBNS 10-TV news anchor Angela An emceed the 10th annual breakfast, where Pastor Jim Zippay of Heritage Christian Church, delivered the keynote address.
Fouse awards were received by three Westerville City Schools students – Mackensi Crenshaw, Westerville South High School; Kara Johnson, Westerville Central High School; and Donovan Varney, Hanby Magnet School.
Athletes, parents and coaches of the Westerville Special Olympics Program nominated Crenshaw for recognition, saying she utilizes her skills, compassion, perseverance, honor and dedication to serve as a leader in the community. The senior has been volunteering with Special Olympics since she was a 15 year old freshman, always finding ways to relate to each diverse athlete and make them feel accepted. Through her affiliation with Westerville South’s Key Club and the women’s basketball team, Crenshaw was instrumental in organizing an “Under the Lights” soccer tournament in the stadium for Special Olympians, complete with announcers, cheerleaders, referees and lots of fans. She plans to pursue a career in teaching individuals with special needs.
Johnson, a senior at Westerville Central, is a member of the National Honor Society. She is co-president of Friends Without Borders, a group that has raised thousands of dollars and awareness for oppressed children around the world. She also runs a school supply program that collects and distributes items that are confidentially given to students in the building who cannot afford them. Johnson was nominated by her principal, Todd Spinner, who said, “She always puts others first and works to be a leader through scholarship, leadership, character and service.”
Varney, a fifth grader at Hanby Magnet School, was described by his principal and nominator, Monica Brown, as being “tolerant, respectful and kind, no matter the situation.” She cited examples of times he displayed maturity and the ability to maintain his composure in the face of challenging incidents. She said he is also willing to help those around him and in his school community. “Donovan follows school and class expectations of Be Accountable, Be Respectful, Don’t be Distracting, and Follow School Rules. He is compassionate and understanding of those who may be different.”
The Fouse Award is named in memory of William H. Fouse, the first black Westerville high school graduate who earned in degree in 1884.
Alston awards, given to Westerville business or community members who most effectively exemplify the characteristics demonstrated by Dr. King, were received by Brian Pierson, Director of Community Outreach, Mount Carmel Health System; and Kyla Snow, Juris Doctor Candidate at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.
Eighth grade Walnut Springs Middle School student Ellis Blackstone received accolades for designing the cover of the program. This marks the first year a contest has been held to select the winning submission.