Hometown heroes honored
BY MATT VINE
Wyoming County Press Examiner
Sometimes heroes are not measured by strength alone, but by how much they care for one another. This was a reoccurring message that eighth grade students at Tunkhannock Area Middle School presented early Thursday morning.
An annual American Hero Day that celebrated the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was held on Thursday morning at Tunkhannock Area Middle School auditorium. This event featured music from the eighth grade chorus and band. This has been a school tradition for 20 years.
Jeanette Siegel, who coordinated the event, said that she enjoys it every year.
“All the essays that the kids wrote for this event comes from their hearts,” Siegel said. “This event helps the students and the public celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King and civil rights movement.”
Middle school principal Jim Timmons said that this program helps the community understand that heroes don’t have to come from a comic book or have superpowers, they just have to care about another individual.
“This event takes the time for the students to recognize who are their everyday hometown heroes,” Timmons said.
Twenty two students were selected from the class to read their essays about their hometown heroes. At the conclusion of each essay, each student asked his or her hero to come forward and receive a copy of the essay he or she wrote.
First up was Spencer Roote, who spoke about her older sister Skyler Roote.
She said that Skyler is a funny and energetic person who understands her needs every day.
“She is beautiful inside and out,” Roote said. “She makes me smile and helps me when things go wrong.”
Danielle Krispin spoke about her softball coach hero, John Keefe who has a sarcastic wit but is a caring individual who wants her to play her best.
“Coach Keefe teaches me to enjoy the game and to “Get back on your Horse, which also means to get back on your feet and try again,” Krispin said.
Genevieve Farr talked about Diane O’Malley, her Girl Scout leader for six years, who motivates Farr to be at her best every day.
Farr said, “She helped be believe that I can meet any goal that I set my mind toward.”
Olivia Carichner talked about how her father David Carichner acts like a superhero when he fights fires and saves peoples’ lives every day.
“My father traveled to New Mexico in 2012 to fight the wild fires that were spreading,” Carichner said. “One of his favorite quotes is to always wear a life jacket no matter how deep the water is.”
Joshua Beeman said that some heroes take many shapes.
Beeman said his math teacher Jackie Layaou – who was furloughed last summer – made him realize that life wasn’t always fair, but she taught him how to make math fun.
“I enjoyed the personal conversations about her purple Dodge Dart,” Beeman said, “and math games like math war and baseball.”
Christian Scotti spoke about his football coach Dan Anderson, and the life lessons learned on the field.
“Coach Anderson always told us not to pay attention to the scoreboard but to play every down with heart and passion,” Scotti said.
(Although they didn’t read their essays, teammates John Walsh and Nick Thomas were on the stage with Scotti and noted that Coach Anderson was their hero, too.)
Brian Muckin, talked about the way his mom, Margie Muckin, always helps out in the community.
“My mom inspires me to be my best knowing that she is behind me all the way,” Muckin said. “In the future, I would like to be as successful as her.”
Paige Mokychic talked about how her father John Mokychic is a fun-loving and very supportive person.
She said that he helped coach all her softball teams, and noted, “He is always there for me.”
“I love when we play Board Game Island, but he doesn’t like to lose,” she chuckled. “Neither do I.”
Brooke Koytek talked about her 96-year-old grandmother, Lois Rought, as a good friend and mentor.
“She always told me to never be rude to a person and to always treat people with respect,” Koytek said.
Alexis Mock went into tears talking about how much of an influence her big sister, Evie Whitaker, is.
Mock said that while growing up, she wanted to act like her in every way.
“She dresses in vintage clothing and is a talented artist who one day wants to have her own tattoo shop,” Mock said. “Although we fight a lot, my sister helps me when she can.”
Falon Nonemacher spoke about how Mary Lou Kuriancheck, a counselor at the Victims Resource Center, was a great role model because she does her best to help people overcome some struggles.
Nonemacher said that Kuriancheck explains that her clients’ problems are not their fault.
Liz Jenkins talked about how heroes can be like angels and that a family friend, Melissa Henn has acted many times as Jenkins’ angel.
“I always see her having a halo on and that she would pick me up and carry me through all the bad stuff that is in our way,” Jenkins said. “She is an angel for taking care of me when I didn’t even know I needed help, and for taking care of patients in the hospital.”
Alyssa Nichols talked about her great grandmother, Dorothy Sayre, as a hero who is a kind and loving individual.
Makayla Franco talked about her hero, Eugene Dziak, director of the Wyoming County Emergency Management Agency, as a highly confident person who enjoys helping people.
“Mr. Dziak keeps the residents of the county informed with what’s going on,” Franco said. “He inspires me to always work hard and help as many people as possible.”
Cheyanne Richards called her younger sister, Emily Calder, “my little warrior.”
When their grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer, “Emily couldn’t fly in to save the day,” Richards said, “but we pulled through and have grown a love that words can’t express.”
She noted, “Superman could save a life a hundred times over and my little 9-year-old sister would still be my hero, because she made a survivor out of me.”
Sam Lacey spoke about her father Joseph Silas Lacey Sr. and how she appreciates his work ethic and for standing behind his daughter every day.
“My father tells me not to give up in life and strive to be the best at what I can become,” Lacey said.
Cadie Nichols spoke about Kathleen Maier, seventh grade science teacher, who loves animals and donates her time of helping others.
“I love the way she makes everyone smile,” Nichols said.
Cassie Miller talked about how her mother Lori Miller is a great role model for her.
“My mom loves helping the homeless and stray animals,” Miller said. “One day, she would love to have a shelter to house the homeless.”
Emma Harding spoke about her father Edward who acts like an inspirational Batman.
“My father is passionate, understanding and is a definition of what a hero is in my eyes,” Harding said.
Heather Slody talked about her softball coach Jason Tague who is kind and caring.
“One of my happiest moments with him was if one of us players accidently hit his coffee cup during practice, he would chase the person all over the field,” Slody said.
Tori Davis talked about her older brother Matthew Scott Ditchey as being a hero who always looks out for her.
“My brother always tells me that mistakes don’t define a person, it is how they get back up and fix the mistakes at the end,” Davis said. “He has been supportive and is receptive in doing the right thing for others.”
Sabrina Traver talked about her grandfather Henry Kuryloski who was a soldier in the U.S. Navy.
She said that Kuryloski loved to play games and is a very honorable person.
Towards the end of the event, there was an announcement about a long time middle school teacher leaving for good.
Katie Prusko ended the assembly by thanking the staff and the students of her time at the middle school. Her husband got a job in Jacksonville, Fla.
“To all the students, you are my heroes,” Prusko said.