Two island students among 46 honored across Rhode Island
The Rhode Island Middle Level Educators – an advocacy group formed in 1991 to support quality education for youngsters ages 10 to 15 – recently honored 46 students from 23 schools at the 13th annual Middle Level Scholar Leader Awards. Among the students was a pair of Jamestown standouts.
Noah Simmons and Jamie Gillette, both 13 and students at Lawn Avenue School, were named Middle Level Scholar Leaders at a banquet held May 15.
Noah and Jamie are eighthgraders at Lawn Avenue School.
According to William Fasano, executive director of the RIMLE, the students were recognized for demonstrating an “excellent attitude” toward academics, for contributing to their schools, and for taking responsibility for their own conduct and their education. The scholar leaders are also the students who help their classmates and who serve as role models for the rest of the school, he said.
The New England League of Middle Schools and the RIMLE organize the scholar awards. Each participating school gives two prizes and selects the winning students.
Jamestown teachers Michaela Onosko, Nell Connelly and James Kaczynski said a team of teachers nominated Jamie and Noah for the award.
The teachers considered the top academic achievers first, and then studied their extracurricular activities. The team also talked to the youngsters’ other instructors. Through those discussions, they made sure the kids that they chose had distinguished themselves in all their school subjects.
Jamie and Noah both said they were surprised when Principal Kathy Almanzor told them about the award.
The students attended the banquet last weekend, listened to citations from the Congressional delegation and the governor, and received a plaque.
Jamie and Noah both grew up in Jamestown and attended the local schools. They will both attend North Kingstown High School in September.
Noah is the son of James Simmons and Suzanne Aubois. His father teaches advanced placement biology at North Kingstown and has always wanted Noah to attend school there. Jamie is the daughter of Tom Gillette and Kim Chandler.
Jamie said her favorite subject is English. Although she does well in all her classes, she especially likes analyzing literature. She also likes creative writing. Jamie writes poetry and short stories. She’s not committed yet to a career, but thinks she might like to write or go into journalism.
“I probably will do something with English or writing,” she said. Although not yet in high school, she already anticipates she may go to graduate school to earn an advanced degree.
Noah enjoys math and history – particularly ancient history.
“It’s just a lot different than we have now,” he said. “It just seems more adventurous.”
He is taking advanced math at Lawn Avenue School and is now studying algebra II. He enjoys math because it’s logical, he said.
He also likes reading. “I like Connor Kostick,” he said. Kostick writes science fiction, and is the author of the award-winning novel “Epic.” Noah is also a fan of the “Hunger Games” series.
“A lot of teenagers can relate to the main character, and it’s an exciting book,” he said.
He is also not yet sure about a career but is leaning toward engineering or naval architecture. He also is “a great writer,” according to Connelly, his English teacher. Noah likes to write literary analysis.
Noah is a midfielder on the Lawn Avenue School soccer team and also plays on the Jamestown recreation team. His best soccer game was two years ago when he was on the team that won the state title. When he’s not playing, he’s refereeing. He took the test, passed, and now earns $18 for each game he officiates.
Along with soccer, he sails and swims. He likes all three sports the same and hopes to make one of North Kingstown’s athletic teams next year.
Jamie doesn’t play competitive sports, but she does belong to a “competitive dance team” at The Talent Factory in North Kingstown. She dances jazz, contemporary and ballet. She has seen some professional dance companies perform and especially liked the Alvin Ailey troupe. “They were amazing,” she said.
Her teachers said they picked Jamie because she is an especially kind and sweet person. “That’s nice of them to say,” she said. “I guess I’m friendly. I really like people, and I like to talk to people.”
She wasn’t surprised, though, when she heard her teachers say she was “mature” in her attitudes. “I get that a lot.”
Jamie also has a spirit of adventure. She is going to Europe after graduation and will live with a host family for 21 days.
Both students showed a love of learning and a willingness to try new things, the teachers said.
Noah’s teachers said he always raised his hand when they asked for volunteers and they are going to miss him in their classrooms.
“Noah’s a wonderful young man,” said Onosko, the Spanish teacher. “Scholar means academically he was one of the highest achieving in his eighth-grade class and the leader part means he is not only academically high achieving, but he’s also an integral part of the class. He moved the class along.”
Connelly added that he is the one who will reach out to his fellow students and help them understand the material.
Kaczynski said Noah distinguished himself in science. For example, he won the contest for designing and building the balloon that stayed in the air the longest and had the lowest density.
Noah said he made the balloon from tissue paper and glue. He also won the school’s geography bee.
Onosko said she’s curious to see what they will end up doing as adults, but she’s sure they’re both bound to do “great things.”