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Spotlight on Youth

Batavia, Genesee County Youth Boards recognize service

  • Updated
  • 12 min to read

The City of Batavia and Genesee County Youth Boards host an annual Youth Recognition Banquet to recognize youth and adults who continuously go above and beyond for the community.

While the the banquet did not happen this year due to the pandemic, the Youth Boards are still celebrating the recipients of the youth and adult awards.

The Youth Recognition Awards are presented to youth who are positive role models, have performed outstanding service for their community, or have assumed extraordinary roles within their families.

This year’s awards recognized 18 youth and three adults. They have all been presented their awards, which include commendations from the Genesee County Legislature, Batavia City Council, Congressman Chris Jacobs, Assemblyman Steve Hawley, and state Senator Ed Rath. The award recipients also received a yard sign in their honor, t-shirts, a gift card, and a certificate from the two Youth Boards.

“The City and County Youth Boards congratulate all our recipients for 2021 and thank you for your commitment and service to our youth and community,” officials said.

The recipients stories are shared here with a brief biography, a note about why there were selected for the award, and who nominated them.

Brett Babcock

Spotlight on Youth

Brett Babcock

Brett Babcock, 17, of LeRoy Junior-Senior High School has shown incredible initiative this year by organizing a free after school tutoring program for junior high students. As a result of the pandemic, students were only receiving in-person instruction two days a week. Brett and his sister, Evelyn, saw the school’s youngest learners in need of extra help so they took it upon themselves to organize the after school tutoring program.

The days that Brett is virtual learning, he and his sister still show up to help the students who are in school those days. They recruited their peers and solicited the help of the junior high school counselor to connect upper classmen tutors with students who can benefit from one-on-one attention with homework, organization, tests and quiz preparation.

Brett is an excellent role model for his peers and younger students alike.

  • Nominator: Bob Hammer, School Counselor
  • Parents/Guardian: Sue Babcock-Collier and Mark Babcock

Evelyn Babcock

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Evelyn Babcock

Evelyn Babcock, 17, of LeRoy Junior-Senior High School has shown tremendous drive this year by arranging a free after school tutoring program for junior high students.

Evelyn and her brother, Brett, saw the school’s younger students struggling so they decided to organize and facilitate the after school tutoring program. Even on the days that Evelyn is virtual, she still goes to school after hours to help students. With the help of the junior high school counselor, Evelyn and her brother recruited peers and helped connect the upper classmen tutors with students who could benefit from one-on-one help with homework, organization, tests and quiz prep.

Evelyn cares about the well-being of the school community.

  • Nominator: Bob Hammer, school counselor
  • Parents/Guardian: Sue Babcock-Collier and Mark Babcock

Zachary Babcock

Spotlight on Youth

Zachary Babcock

Zachary Babcock, 17, of Notre Dame High School has gone above and beyond when it comes to volunteering. Challenger Sports is something that is near and dear to his heart and Zachary has assisted with three different sports: tennis, soccer and skating.

He takes pride in servicing and helping others. Zachary has also participated in walks to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis.

Zachary has also been a leader in servicing his school community. He assists with gardening, moving furniture, fundraising, running errands, cleaning, and doing other tasks that need to be completed around the school. Sometimes Zachary doesn’t even need to be asked, he just sees something that needs tending to and takes it upon himself to do it.

This year, during an unprecedented pandemic, Zachary’s selfless acts to help the school have made a huge difference. He is someone who can be counted on in his school and community in so many ways.

  • Nominator: Kristen Gomez, academic advisor
  • Parents/Guardian: Steve and Carolyn Babcock

Emma Cline

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Emma Cline

Emma Cline, 17, of Alexander Central School is a wonderful young lady who is tremendously supportive of her friends and school community. Any time you see Emma in the hallways at school, you can see that smile in her eyes and it’s enough to brighten anyone’s day.

Emma gives back to her community by helping at her church. She babysits at her church and helps instruct dance classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

She enjoys Irish dancing and loves to perform for others in nursing homes and parades in different cities.

Emma is a kind and compassionate asset to her school and community.

  • Nominator: Christian Bryant, School Counselor
  • Parent/Guardian: Mary Jo Cline

Callie Colantonio

Spotlight on Youth

Callie Colantonio

Callie Colantonio, 14, of Oakfield-Alabama Central School works hard to contribute to the betterment of her school and the community at large.

Callie involves herself in many school activities, church and civic organizations. At school, Callie is a member of Student Council, Honor Society, the cooking club and the school musical. Callie also volunteers her services to the OA Boot Drive fundraiser. In the community, she is an active member of her church where she has made tie blankets for those who were hospitalized and prayer quilts for those who were ill or have passed away.

Callie has also been involved in fundraisers for Alex’s Lemonade Stand, the Officer Erion K9 Drive, and the Zonta Club “Show of Hope.”

Dancing for City Church services and acting as an assistant dance teacher at Divine Dance have allowed her to use her talents for the greater good.

Callie does not like to call attention to herself, but through all of her activities, she is a positive role model for the youth of Genesee County.

  • Nominator: Bernadette Bookmiller, Teacher/Advisor
  • Parents/Guardian: Lou and Julie Colantonio

Paul Daniszewski

Spotlight on Youth

Paul Daniszewski

Paul Daniszewski, 15, of Batavia High School has participated in several school and community organizations.

Paul has also been involved in Sources of Strength Program for two years. This program focuses on teen suicide prevention and building a community where everyone belongs. Paul has done an exceptional job taking on a leadership role within this group, even at his underclassman status. He is always the first to volunteer, sharing his thoughts or insights while encouraging others to do the same. Fellow peers feel comfortable with him because of his friendly, calm, patient and caring nature. If someone does express a problem, Paul will genuinely listen and assist. This is carried over in his relationships outside the group. When a peer or friend has difficulty, they often turn to Paul. If he feels like he is unable to help, he will then turn to a trusted adult for suggestions. Paul has shown his maturity and genuine nature on several occasions.

He also participates in drama club, band and chorus.

  • Nominator: Heidi Meides-Judge, advisor/school counselor
  • Parents/Guardian: Douglas and Wendy Daniszewski

Donato Fiorentino

Spotlight on Youth

Donato Fiorentino

Donato Fiorentino, 19, of Notre Dame High School has contributed to his community for the last eight years through numerous acts of community service.

Since fifth grade, Donato has set up and helped run games at the St. Joseph’s Penny Carnival. Donato has also been an integral part of the fundraising events that bring money in to support the school. Donato has also worked numerous fundraisers for local churches.

Since eighth grade, he has been an assistant coach for the Batavia Bulldawgs football team. He helps run practices and pushes the younger athletes to be their best selves.

Donato is a true role model to those younger than him and it is one of his greatest passions. He’s giving and generous with the time that he spends helping others. He will continue to serve his community and is dedicated to bettering himself and those around him.

  • Nominator: Kristen Gomez, academic advisor
  • Parents/Guardian: Joseph & Stephanie Fiorentino

Jada Fite

Spotlight on Youth

Jada Fite

Jada Fite, 12, of Elba Junior-Senior High School has a contagious smile.

She also found a beautiful way to uplift her peers this year. When the school year started, many were struggling to find happiness in their day. Along came Jada and her friend, Addison Keberle; they were their own version of a happiness committee. They spent hours each week writing happy notes for their peers, teachers, and other staff members. They would leave the notes on students’ lockers, hidden in doorways, and affixed to bathroom mirrors. In a year when students might focus on the negative, Jada and Addison decided to make their mark with positivity and grace.

  • Nominator: Gretchen Rosales, high school principal
  • Parents/Guardian: Amie Baird and Joseph Fite

Jenna Gilbert

Spotlight on Youth

Jenna Gilbert

Jenna Gilbert, 16, of Oakfield-Alabama Central School is a devoted member of the Link Crew. As a Link Crew leader she is responsible for the academic, social and emotional support of a group of eight to 10 freshmen. Leaders are required to connect with their group to help with their transition to high school.

Jenna has gone above and beyond the requirements of a Link Crew leader. She has written personal letters to all of her “links,” checks on them almost daily and tutors several who are struggling in academic subjects. Jenna and her partner have hosted campfires and other events in school where their links get together for socialization and fun. She took on an even more challenging task while in the midst of a pandemic: she planned a Secret Santa event at Christmas. When school went full remote, she and others drove house-to-house to deliver the gifts to ensure that everyone received something special.

  • Nominator: Tracy Schlagenhauf, Link Crew advisor
  • Parent/Guardian: Sue Gilbert

Jordan Hamer

Spotlight on Youth

Jordan Hamer

Jordan Hamer, 14, of Alexander Central School has taken on an extraordinary role within her family.

Jordan took on a great responsibility to care for her younger siblings. From getting them ready for school, to making lunches, helping with school work, and entertaining them, Jordan has been there to protect them and keep them safe.

Jordan has an infectious positive attitude and goals that will take her far in life.

  • Nominator: Ashley Cangialosi, school counselor
  • Parents/Guardian: Jesse and Jessica Hamer

Abrahaam Izucar Heranandez

Spotlight on Youth

Abrahaam Izucar Heranandez

Abrahaam Izucar Heranandez, 14, of Elba Central School came to the United States last year. He arrived knowing very little English.

He quickly became known as the kind-hearted kid who smiled at everyone. He settled into life at Elba school and worked hard to learn English , staying after school to work with teachers to improve his skills. It was not easy; learning a new language is challenging enough, but to come to a new school and have only his father to rely upon has been quite the experience for Abrahaam.

He also decided to join the basketball team, though he had never played before. He decided that there was nothing too challenging and is a full-fledged member of the team. The most amazing thing about this is that a lack of playing time due to inexperience has not swayed his devotion to the team. He cheers the loudest and longest for his teammates.

In his free time during the school day, Abrahaam uses his Spanish-speaking skills to tutor other students who may be struggling. He loves helping others and has proven to be a wonderful teacher.

Abrahaam is a selfless young man, willing to do anything to help his peers.

  • Nominator: Gretchen Rosales, high school principal
  • Parent/Guardian: Christino Izucar Noriega

Mikayla Hickey

Spotlight on Youth

Mikayla Hickey

Mikayla Hickey, 17, of Alexander Central School is a standout student and the volunteer guru. Whether for the senior class or her softball team, she is at every single fundraising event volunteering time.

Mikayla is always trying to grow and push herself to be the best that she can be.

This young lady truly understands the concept of service above self. In school, Mikayla is president of both National Honor Society and Student Council. She was also a student representative on the Alexander Building Project Committee.

Outside of school, Mikayla is a karate instructor two nights a week, she helps tutor students in need, and has volunteered at the Alexander Wrestling Tournament every year for the past four years. She is also an assistant for the travel softball league.

Mikayla has put in many hours at various events and with many clubs and organizations.

She is empathetic, hardworking and an overall all-star.

  • Nominator: Christian Bryant, school counselor
  • Parents/Guardian: Michael and Cherie Hickey

Addison Keberle

Spotlight on Youth

Addison Keberle

Addison Keberle, 12, of Elba Central School found a way to spread happiness when it was hard to find any when the COVID-19 pandemic started.

Addison and her classmate, Jada Fite, another Youth Award recipient, spent countless hours writing happy messages for their peers, teachers and school staff to find. They would leave the notes taped to lockers, hidden in doorways, and affixed on bathroom mirrors.

They were their own version of a happiness committee and made their mark on Elba school with their positivity and grace. Staff and students were grateful and needed the positivity, especially this year.

  • Nominator: Gretchen Rosales, high school principal
  • Parents/Guardian: Michele and Keith Keberle

Logan Lewis

Spotlight on Youth

Logan Lewis

Logan Lewis, 18, of Byron-Bergen Central School is an involved young man in and out of school.

Logan is always eager to volunteer his time and is not afraid to complete the sometimes undesirable volunteer tasks such as set up and clean up.

Logan has been an active member of Future Farmers of America, SADD club, Liberty Partnership Program, and Student Council. Logan has also participated in Escape the Vape, Project Sticker Shock, and Red Ribbon activities at Byron-Bergen for several years.

Logan is an active member at his church, where he has been helping out with the annual vocational bible school since sixth grade. He is also a weekly helper with the Wednesday Kids Program. Logan spent a week in Phoenix at the Nazarene National Youth Mission Trip, which focuses on the needs of the community members by delivering water and babysitting children while parents receive medical care.

Logan is known for helping with snowplowing and lawn care for neighbors in need. If he sees a need, he responds to it. Logan completes tasks with a smile and a real desire to help.

  • Nominator: Maureen Calmes, school social worker
  • Parents/Guardian: Jennifer and Sam Lewis

Owen Mileham

Spotlight on Youth

Owen Mileham

Owen Mileham, 18, of Notre Dame High School has been a stellar student since his freshman year. His service to his school and surrounding community has been outstanding.

Owen is a gifted and positive contributor who goes above and beyond expectations.

He has a special place in his heart for the elderly and the very young, as his service hours have centered on helping them. Owen has volunteered his time at Grace Kids, a church program for children for the past four years. He also served at the Hall of Fame Dinner last year and volunteered time at a golf tournament for leukemia.

Owen was part of revamping the Indian Falls Fire Department. Owen has spent time playing games and singing to the elderly at the Manor House.

Owen plans on attending school to be a pastor. His entire life goal is to serve others. He is well on his way to dedicating his life to his community.

  • Nominator: Kristen Gomez, Academic Advisor
  • Parents/Guardian: Jeffrey and Mary Mileham

Andresha Richardson

Spotlight on Youth

Andresha Richardson

Andresha Richardson, 17, of Batavia High School has been a valued member of the Batavia High School Z Club. She has been a member since her freshman year and has volunteered in many capacities.

She has served at many school and community events such as the Zonta Holiday Festival at Batavia Downs, Breakfast with Santa, and activities at the nursing home such as pumpkin carving with the residents.

In addition to her Z Club duties, Andresha is active with many other school organizations such as Link Crew. She has been a leader for the past two years and also took on the role of Link Commissioner her senior year.

She has played varsity volleyball and softball.

Most recently, Andresha led Batavia’s school-wide effort to recognize Black History Month, which involved researching Black Americans to showcase on the morning announcements. She has also composed several bulletin boards and display cases around the school.

Andresha is a bright young lady and a positive role model for her peers.

  • Nominator: Melissa Holsopple, club advisor
  • Parents/Guardian: Sheryl Majors and Andrew Richardson

Shawn Searls

Spotlight on Youth

Shawn Searls

Shawn Searls, 18, of Notre Dame High School is a student who goes above and beyond. Shawn volunteers at his local church every Sunday. He is part of the tech crew, making sure the lights and projectors work accordingly to provide a beautiful service.

Not only is he a dedicated member of his church but also to his family. Shawn takes on a lot of responsibility as his father is often away for work. Shawn is supportive of his family as an only child and has persevered through this pandemic with grace and courage.

Shawn will continue to serve his church and his family where and whenever needed. He is a generous, kind and honest young man. Shawn has a bright future ahead of him.

  • Nominator: Kristen Gomez, academic advisor
  • Parents/Guardian: Jeffrey and& Kristy Searls

Jordyn Tobolski

Spotlight on Youth

Jordyn Tobolski

Jordyn Tobolski, 17, of Oakfield-Alabama Central School is a part of the school’s Link Crew, which is responsible for the academic, social and emotional support of a group of freshmen. Leaders are required to connect with their freshmen to help with their transition to high school.

Jordyn has gone far beyond the requirements of a Link Crew leader. She has written personal letters to all of her “links,, checks on them almost daily, and tutors several of them who may be struggling in their academic subjects.

Jordyn and her partner have hosted campfires and other events in school where they all get together and socialize and have fun. This has been a challenging task during the pandemic but needed more than ever.

Jordyn planned a Secret Santa event at Christmastime and, when school went full remote, she and her partner drove from house to house to deliver the gifts to ensure everyone received something special.

  • Nominator: Tracy Schlagenhauf, Link Crew advisor
  • Parents/Guardian: Ron and Teresa Tobolski

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