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Spirit of Rachel award winners announced

The 2019-20 Spirit of Rachel Awards have been named.

The high school award winner is Kate Frucht who is a senior at West Forsyth High.

The middle school award winner is Jaya Patel who is in the eighth grade at Southeast Middle.

The elementary school award winner is Ginevra Szabo who is in the fifth grade at Clemmons Elementary.

Students were nominated based upon Rachel’s five challenges:

Looks for the best in others: Strives to find the good by acknowledging the unique contributions in everyone.

Dreams big: Finds ways to accomplish goals even when there are obstacles.

Chooses positive influences: Seeks to surround themselves with people and ideas that contribute to personal discovery and growth.

Speaks words of kindness: Verbalizes concern and empathy for others leading to concrete actions.

Starts a chain reaction: Looks for small ways to make a difference in the lives of others.

Ginvera Zsabo is the daughter of Timea and Zsolt Szabo.

Ginvera is the daughter of Timea and Zsolt Szabo. She was nominated by teacher Christine Andreu.

Andreu said, “Wherever you go, you bring your own sunshine!”

Excerpts from nomination submission:

Ginervra Szabo, a fifth-grade student form Clemmons Elementary School nominated by her teacher Christine Andreu for the district Spirit of Rachel Award. Ms. Andreu’s nomination submission describes Ginervra as a model of what it means to care for others. She radiates positivity at all times. She starts the morning by greeting every teacher or staff member she sees with a bright smile and a “Good Morning.” She ends the day with that same energy and caring for other as she says her goodbyes. She is always willing to help others and has shown how truly compassionate she can be in her consistent donations to the class and to our charity drives.

This student surrounds herself with positive people and has separated herself from groups who are not showing positive behavior. She has never spoken an unkind word and is respectful to both adults and peers. She exemplifies the Spirit of Rachel Award by creating a warm and welcoming classroom and by making others feel at ease.

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Jaya Patel is the daughter of Shruti and Swetal Patel.

Jaya Patel’s parents are Shruti and Swetal Patel. Jaya was nominated by Jenny Watson, the Friends of Rachel Club adviser.

Watkins said, “There is probably not another student I have ever taught or worked with that shows more of Rachel’s spirit than Jaya Patel.”

Excerpts from nomination submission:

Eighth-grade Southeast Middle School student Jaya Patel was nominated for the Spirit of Rachel Award by her Friends of Rachel Club adviser Jenny Watson. Watson indicates that Jaya is Rachel’s spirit. Jaya is the first person to hold a door open, smile, show empathy, not judge fellow classmates, lend a helping hand, or help someone pick up their dropped books. Even in the classroom, Jaya assists in any way possible. Recently, a core teacher made a comment about wishing she could “clone her.”

Even though there may be challenges in her life, Jaya dreams big. She constantly looks for the best in others. She is a very unique person and will stand up for anyone who needs a friend or even a single positive word; she speaks words of kindness and starts a chain reaction in every way imaginable.

Jaya has led most of the Southeast Middle School’s Friends of Rachels (FOR) Club projects this past three years and often was instrumental in coming up with the ideas for these projects. A few examples were a toy drive/Angel Tree for families at our school during Christmas, pet supply drives for a local animal shelter, Unity Day/National Bullying Month activities, and Random Acts of Kindness Week activities. Last year for Valentine’s Day, she wanted to make sure every student received a valentine. Jaya led a group in creating red hearts for every student’s lockers and staff member’s doors. These red hearts had inspirational and motivational quotes on them. We still see these around the school even now inside lockers and on notebooks. She’s helped create welcome kits for new students who come to SEMS throughout the year. She was also an active leader in the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) club at Southeast Middle School.

Watson continues to say that since Jaya is in the eighth grade, our FOR Club, FCCLA, and our entire school will have a giant hole as we “recover” from Jaya’s transition to high school. She has been our “rock” for three years now. I’ve joked about not letting her go to high school or still contracting out to her to make the posters for our events or help with the hearts. While helping lead all of our Rachel’s Challenge and FOR Club activities, she has made a huge impact in our school and in our community.

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Kate Frucht is the daughter of Stephen Frucht and Brenda Frucht.

Kate Frucht is the daughter of Stephen Frucht and Brenda Frucht. Kate was nominated by school counselor Robin Downs.

Downs said, “Kate is a delight — she brightens up a room with her smile, her kind words, and most important — her actions on behalf of others. Kate is a dynamic young lady. She is welcoming in spirit and kind in actions. I enjoy watching her engage with others due to the sincere genuineness of her nature. She daily exemplifies the five challenges identified by the works of Rachel Scott.”

Excerpts from the nomination submission:

Katherine (Kate) Frucht was nominated for the Spirit of Rachel award by Ms. Robin Downs, her school counselor. Downs noted: Often, we hear the phrase that a person is one-of-a-kind. One-of-a-kind references someone who is special/distinct in their abilities, drives, and/or passions. It is in this vein, that I write Kate is one-of-a-kind. Of course, I could speak to her academic ability and intellectually curiosity, she excels in these areas. Yet, even more impressive than her class rank and GPA, is Kate’s passion for people and her work towards the betterment of her community. Her professional goal is to work in a capacity to be a change agent when needs present. She is a staunch advocate for individual rights and justice. This is evident in her relationships on campus and within the community. She writes and speaks on topics of sexual harassment/assault and LGBTQ rights, as well as, works to raise awareness with reference to community needs.

Within the nomination’s form, Downs shared a teacher’s perspective on Kate. “Kate is a genuinely nice, caring person who people love to be around. She is a team player whether as a member of the swim team or Youth and Government. She has a positive attitude and possesses much integrity. She listens to others’ ideas and engages in dialogue in a non-combative manner. She is respectful both of her peers and teachers. She is one of the more mature responsible students that I have taught.”