A student from Abraham Lincoln Elementary School in Belleville didn’t just Do The Right Thing once or twice. And not just one or two judges for the Do The Right Thing thought Xander Van Horn should earn the group’s top honors, either.
“Xander stood out for a number of us as our No. 1 choice,” said Tracy Hallquist, program director of Do The Right Thing. “We have a lot of great kids who do a couple of things, but it sounds like for the whole season he stepped up ... it wasn’t just one thing, it was through the whole season that he kept this commitment.”
Xander, 12,was honored as the Candy Green Student of the Year for the 2014-15 school year at a breakfast Friday at St. Louis Community College at Forest Park, at 5600 Oakland Ave. in St. Louis.
Xander said his experience helping a special-needs child play play basketball inspired him to volunteer with the special-needs program at his church, where he volunteers twice a month.
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The Upward Bound program at Christ Church in Fairview Heights was looking for an adult volunteer to help a special-needs child play basketball and Xander volunteered, staying near the boy for games and practices, for the month-long season.
“He’d (get upset) and go on the floor, and I’d try to get him back up,” Xander said.
The kick-off breakfast is to inspire more nominations for the monthly honors, where students from Missouri and Illinois are named. There is one Student of the Year for the organization.
The Kick-Off Breakfast also will celebrate Smithton Elementary as School of the Year. Hallquist said the Do The Right Thing members examine the nominations, how many students from each school that made the Top Ten monthly honors, and the quality of the nominations to determine the School of the Year.
“They have consistently sent some great nominations in, their kids there seem to have great character traits and the school seems to recognize them and make sure the kids know that their positive character is appreciated,” Hallquist said of Smithton.
Eight Smithton students received monthly honors from Do the Right Thing in the past school year.
“From my understanding they get hundreds of nominations a month,” said Smithton Superintendent Sue Homes, who planned to attend the breakfast for the award.
Xander was nominated by Kim Enriquez, a member of his church who is the incoming principal at Mascoutah Elementary. Her letter specified that she had written several nominations for Do The Right Thing awards, but thought Xander’s actions to be worthy of the Student of the Year award.