Farmington Public Schools celebrated 28 students as part of its Turn Around Awards, which honor kids who have faced social, academic and discipline issues, but have been able to improve themselves.

Farmington Public Schools celebrated 28 students as part of its Turn Around Awards, which honor kids who have faced social, academic and discipline issues, but have been able to improve themselves.

Photo provided by Farmington Public Schools

Farmington students honored in Turn Around Awards

By: Mike Koury | Farmington Press | Published April 16, 2019


FARMINGTON — Self-improvement can be hard for anyone, let alone a young student going through grade school, but 28 children from Farmington Public Schools were recently celebrated for how they were able to turn their lives around.

The Farmington Public Schools students were celebrated at the district’s 18th annual Turn Around Awards, which honor students who have faced social, academic and discipline issues, but have turned themselves around.

Superintendent George Heitsch said hearing about the students and learning their stories gets to him every year.

“Every year that we do the Turn Around Awards, I’m reminded of how difficult life can be for some of our students and what a great community moment it is when those students have the opportunity to demonstrate that they’re moving in a more positive direction,” he said.

Warner Middle School Principal Allen Archer, who is on the Turn Around Committee, said students can struggle with anything from grades and class troubles to getting involved in arguments with others.

“We see kids who turn themselves around and get their grades together, get their behavior together,” he said. “They mature. They act better socially, and so it’s always a good thing to recognize and it’s always a struggle for these kids, and normally they have to work hard to do it and overcome a lot of obstacles. It’s really nice to recognize those types of kids.”

One of those kids who Archer has personally seen turn his life around is eighth-grader Dominic Wilson, who struggled with his grades, was involved in “a lot of drama” and didn’t do well socially.

“What he has become is ... one of our best leaders in the school,” Archer said.

Wilson noticed that he was heading down a bad path as well. He said he was missing days of school and getting suspended and punished often.

“I just wanted to stop it, and I wanted to see if I could push myself to do more stuff or better in school so I could make everyone proud,” he said.

Wilson decided to push himself to be a better student and a better person because, as he put it, if he didn’t, he knew he wasn’t going to be a person anyone would want to be around.

The 14-year-old Warner Middle School student said he started to think more before he spoke — which he said helped him a lot — and he started staying after school with teachers to help improve his grades.

He said he tries to be more thoughtful with the other students by telling them what they missed in class or cheering someone up if they are sad.

“I just wanted to make sure that everyone around me’s OK so I can be OK,” he said.

This hasn’t gone unnoticed by Warner administrators, as Archer said Wilson is someone they can go to to ask if he can work with a student who might be having some trouble. Archer recalled how just recently he saw Wilson comfort another student who was upset, asking how he could help her.

“He’s that type of kid now,” Archer said. “In class, he’s a leader, getting kids to behave the right way and getting kids to work academically. And that’s the biggest thing. He has come from this kid that’s a follower and always seemed to be in trouble to a leader in the school building who we can go to at any time. … The teachers recognize that, and we recognize down here in the front office too.”

“It feels great just to know that I can know that people can look … to me and see that I can do something for them,” Wilson said of that trust factor between himself and school officials.

Wilson said it meant a lot to him to be honored by the district for his efforts in turning things around and improving himself.

“When I got recognized, I thought I was doing a lot more and that everyone could see it that I’m making a change everywhere,” he said. “I felt really happy and I wanted to keep doing it.”

Turn Around Award winners

• Julian Ama
• David Bitson
• Duane Cole
• James Cole
• Elliott Divetta
• Lucas Dumitrescu
• Ian Dunn
• Ben Glickman
• DeAria Hutchinson
• Patryk Marshick
• Benicio Martinez-Bassett
• Jenna Maurer
• Marcellus Montgomery
• James Neuhaus
• Devon Osborn
• Sydney Pham
• Anthony Ramirez
• Christopher Redding
• Elijah Richards
• Jeff Rogers
• Josh Rushing
• Miranda Spisak
• Ryan Tawney
• Liam Thompson
• Evelyn Walugembe
• Anna Whitfield
• Quinten Wilk
• Dominic Wilson