ZANESVILLE, Ohio- The Zanesville Noon Rotary Club awarded six area high school students with Phoenix awards this afternoon at Bryan Place.
This marks the 20th year the organization has presented this award. The Phoenix award is given to one student from each of the seven county high schools. The students are recognized for overcoming extreme difficulties in their lives and beating the odds.
“Not all of our children have an opportunity to go through life sort of bruise free. Many of them have had to survive personal bruises over and over,” said Don Mason President of Noon Rotary. “And in this case we are honoring children who could have easily given up at any point in time due to their medical situations or family situations, but yet they continued to strive ahead, to persevere, and have high aspirations and demands of themselves.”
Kianna Norris, a senior at Zanesville High School, is one of the students who received the award this year. After losing her father in 2012, Norris stepped up to the plate and helped take care of her younger sisters while remaining focused on school and pursuing extra curricular activities. Norris said community is a big factor in helping students that have struggles to overcome.
“I just say that you can get through it. If you think that you’re alone, you’re not. There’s people there for you and there’s people that care for you,” said Norris. “That’s what your guidance counselors are for. That’s what your administrator is for. They’re there to let you know that they care about you and that they want you to get through things and get through school with them.”
Norris said awards such as this is important for students. She said it’s good to acknowledge what the students have been through and what they have accomplished.
“There’s so many children out there, or students, that just faced so much at home and in their lives and struggle with so much personally and are able to cope and then they get through it,” said Norris. “And they have, like, the faculty helping them and they have their family helping them. And whenever they can be recognized for that and they receive something for that, I think it’s just really important.”
As for the award itself, it represents a sort of rebirth for the students.
“Of course we know the Phoenix is a beautiful bird and in a sense these are beautiful children,” said Mason. “So yeah, these are beautiful children who have risen from the ashes around them and again, we’re so very proud of them.”
The other students awarded this year are Tess Nicholas of Maysville High School, Hailey Vasko of John Glenn High School, Doneeqwa Goins of Philo High School, Gabee Bryan of Tri-Valley High School, and Bailey Price of West Muskingum High School.