By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
Five Keizer Teens were honored at the annual Turnaround Awards banquet Tuesday, May 13.
The awards celebrate students who make concerted efforts to change their attitudes, grades or both at schools in the Salem area. They are sponsored by Keizer’s Town & Country Bowling Center.
Fredy Santiago was the honoree from McNary High School. He was nominated by Carrie Brown a counselor at the school.
“Fredy is a survivor and still a work in progress,” said Brown. “When he arrived at McNary his GPA was .67 and then it fell to .00. Since then, he has gone through summer school and done extra work to make sure he graduates.”
At one time, Santiago lived on the streets in Mexico before being brought stateside by his mother.
“My mom used to cry every night and she would pray for me to change and be the person I am now. I can’t go back in time, I can only do everything I can to graduate,” Santiago said.
Turnaround recipients at Whiteaker and Claggett Creek middle schools were both motivated by a desire to play sports.
Jacqueline Ryder found a haven in playing volleyball and didn’t want to get cut from the team for poor grades.
“I started out horrible,” she said. “I had bad grades and lots of referrals. The hardest part was forcing myself to pay attention.”
Sam Partida discovered an aptitude for wrestling and used it to spark a reversal in his grades and attitude.
“I found out I was good at wrestling and then track and field,” Sam said. “Now I want to be in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), and be an entrepreneur and police officer.”
He overcame struggles with learning disorders to put himself on a better track.
Keizer students receiving awards from non-Keizer schools included Sheila Limas-De La Cruz at Blanchet Catholic School and Casey Robinson at Barbara Roberts High School.