On May 15, the Optimist Club of Brunswick held its annual Youth Appreciation Night at the Brunswick Rec Center; at that time two students from each of the 11 buildings in the Brunswick City School District were recognized.
In conjunction with this event, and as part of the Optimist Club's Respect for Law program, two area individuals were honored as the community's Police Officers of the Year. The late President John F. Kennedy initiated a national police recognition program in 1962.
Optimist Club President Dean Holman began by asking the large crowd to join in saying the Pledge of Allegiance, after which he invited presenting and receiving officers to the stage.
City of Brunswick Chief of Police Brian J. Ohlin presented City of Brunswick Officer Michael J. Kellums for recognition. Ohlin described Animal Control Officer Kellums as being a consistently enthusiastic and optimistic man with positive energy who is very professional and always there to help out.
Brunswick Hills Township Chief of Police Tim Sopkovich then introduced Officer Nicholas T. Balli for recognition, the youngest in the department and the second rookie to receive this award. Sopkovich described Balli as a team player who never complains, a protector who is good at getting bad people and bad things off the streets.
In keeping with the tradition of including the supportive women in the lives of honorees, roses were given to their mothers.
Holman told the audience the next part of the program, the presentation of the Youth Appreciation Awards, was dedicated to the memory of Norma Lesnak, who for years worked tirelessly on this and other Optimist Club programs. Lesnak, a dedicated Optimist and lover of children, passed away earlier this year.
The following students - elementary school fifth graders, middle school eighth graders, and a junior and a senior from the high school - received awards:
Applewood Caden Galloway, Kaelyn Shoens
Crestview Logan Earley, Alaina Bark
Hickory Ridge Travis Corniello, Caidence Sparks
Huntington Gideon Kortan, Isabella Heinbaugh-McCroskey
Kidder Jacob Yanke, Cadence Satow
Memorial Anderson Mitchell, Adriana Thomas
Towslee Kayden Draiss, Anna Halfhill
Edwards Jordan Dye, Morgan Kinney
Visintainer Chase Buchner, Maeve McGinnis
Willetts Trevor Parker, Cecilia Till
Brunswick High Kevin Gabriel, Kennedy Robinson
Holman read the highly complimentary comments made by the people who recommended these students for this honor. Overall, they were described as conscientiously optimistic individuals with integrity who are active leaders in school, in the community, and in their churches. They are respectful, determined, friendly, self-motivated, hard-working, role models and mentors who willingly go above and beyond to help others.
Optimist Tim Smith added words of thanks to the parents for serving as good role models to their children. He also thanked all the Optimists for organizing the event, and the local businesses for donating gifts; each family received a prize in a random drawing at the conclusion of the presentation.
The students and guests were treated to pizza and brownies following the program.
Just a few of the many programs the Optimist Club of Brunswick conducts are awarding scholarships, giving food and gift baskets at Christmas, and maintaining a cancer fund for children who are victims of the disease.