A salute and certificate for Port Colborne's Great Kids of South Niagara

Great Kids of South Niagara: the Port Colborne connection 

2010 is the 5th year of the Tribune program "Search of Great Kids of South Niagara" coordinated by Karin Vanderzee.

Teachers from dozens of schools nominated students in 3 categories:

Cool to Be Kind, Against the Odds, Personal Best

 Of 19 finalists, eight Great Kids live and-or attend school in Port Colborne


We are so proud of these young people, Mayor Badawey said at council the evening of May 25.

There was a special newspaper published in their honour, and they were recognized at a special gala event in Welland a month or so ago, which the mayor was not able to attend as he was away with his children at provincial basketball tournaments. So, he asked the Great Kids with a Port Colborne connection to come and be recognized at city council, so all Port Colborne could congratulate them and be proud, too

With certificates of recognition presented by Mayor Badawey on behalf of council and all Port Colborne citizens: Mackenzie Jones, Cassandra DeCicco, Lucas Hoyle, Emily House, Dakotah Ellero, Zoe Johnston, Kamden McNeil 




Kamden McNeil is a semi-finalist in the category Cool to be Kind

•  Grade 7 at St. Therese School  

•  nominated by his teacher Julia Mascio and principal Christine Curran

•  Kamden was a volunteer worker for 21 days in El Salvador and Guatemala, through World Vision International

•  He is an amazing student, plays hockey and football

•  Teachers call him humble and modest and compassionate, a well-rounded Great Kid




Lucas Hoyle is a semi-finalist
in the category Against All Odds

•  11-year-old Lucas stood up in front of everyone at his school St. Therese, to make a speech about the late Tyler Crooks, the young soldier from Port Colborne who was killed in Afghanistan March 20, 2009, on his 24th birthday

•  teacher Tracy Hoover said Lucas was inspired by Corporal Crooks, and worked 10 times harder than anyone else to write, and memorize, the speech for the school, and then on to the Legion public speaking

•  Teachers say Lucas never complains, always tries his best

•  Orange-belt from Dayboll Jiu-Jitsu, also kickboxing, and playing peewee hockey

•  When he grows up, he'd like to be a firefighter, like his dad, or a UFC fighter









Dakotah Ellero is a finalist
in the category Against All Odds

• 11-year-old Dakotah has had her share of adversity, but now has learned to trust people to help her grow, be more confident, and overcome her fears

•  She motivated herself to believe she could achieve her goals: and she did!

•  She ran the 100-metre dash and conquered the high jump, palcing among the top 5 in her age group

•  She reads books like crazy: one day she'd like to be an author, and work with animals

•  Dakotah says of all the character traits that make a person, the most important is integrity: "It means you still do the right thing, even when no one is looking."







Zöe Johnston is a finalist
in the category Against All Odds

•  Now an A-student, Zöe's childhood was a "nightmare" she described, because she moved so many times, was separated from her parents and siblings, until finally settling with her Aunt Lorraine

•  She has learned to trust, and love, and she gives back by volunteering as a leader-in-training to help children with developmental disabilities

•  "Life doesn't just stop because you go through things," says 12-year-old Zöe

• She was chosen to attend Tim Horton's Camp in Kentucky, and belongs to a club at school called The God Squad

•  Zöe participated in Canal Days Idol with her best friend Kaitlyn

•  She is a successful public speaker; she is a cheerleader and dancer; enjoys competitive swimming, volleyball and basketball

•  Zöe would like to be a veterinarian, or a dentist



Brooke Albano is a semi-finalist in the category Personal Best

•  Brooke likes to ride with her dad on his Harley, but says she'll be too busy to own her own motorcycle one day: she really wants to be a teacher

•  She has played teacher for years with her younger sister Mya

•  Brooke earns "mostly all A's" at St. John Bosco School

•  She enjoys singing and dancing and was challenged on stage by playing the male lead in the school play, which she knows off by heart

•  Brooke is a well-rounded individual, well-liked with many friends, and always gives her best effort at whatever she does



Cassandra deCicco is a semi-finalist
in the category Personal Best

•  Cassandra goes above and beyond her regular school work as a Grade 5 student at St. Therese Catholic School

•  The 10-year-old likes a challenge: teachers praise her for her work ethic, and for turning mistakes into something she can use to do better

•  She is a positive role model; a member of The God Squad; an avid reader

•  Cassandra is a natural athlete in gym class as well as plays basketball and track and field; she placed first in long jump, shot put and three running events

•  Soccer is her favourite sport: she plays on the U-11 team, and one day hopes to be a professional soccer player





Mackenzie Jones is a semi-finalist
in the category Personal Best

•  14-year-old Mackenzie is an awesome basketball player, who hopes to play in the NBA

•  Not only is he a gifted athlete, says his coach and teacher Holly Pietrangelo, he is unselfish, and shows tremendous humility ... he is the first person to pass the ball to one of the less-talented players, so they get an opportunity to score."

•  Mack works with the Grades 5 and 6 boys doing drills and led the team to an undefeated season to win the Port Colborne Wainfleet league, as well as a gold medal in the District School Board of Niagara

•  Mack also won 2 gold medals for track and field, is a star running-back in football; and he has an 84% academic average









Emily House is the finalist in the category Personal Best

•  Emily is a computer whiz and an inspiring role model and mentor for children and teens; she plans weekly activities at Uberyouth

•  She is an honours student at Lakeshore Catholic High School, one of six students chosen from Port Colborne High Schools to be certified in the Suicide Intervention Skills program

•  To target the stigma around suicide, she used her creativity and energy to produce a video: Suicide: Let's Talk About It!, which can be found online on Youtube, Facebook and the Uberyouth website

•  She developed and narrated a DVD called Voices of Port, which addresses the need for teen entertainment; and a third video to convince teens to say no to drugs

•  Emily was chosen  to go to Algonquin for leadership training with at-risk children

•  Youth program coordinator Rita Smith said: "Emily has a special way with children, treating each with respect and compassion." 


On behalf of city council and the citizens of Port Colborne, we salute you, all our Great Kids. You do your families, your schools, and your city proud. Thank you to Karen Vanderzee and the Tribune for coordinating the Great Kids program. It makes us all aware of young people in our community who have achieved extraordinary levels of performance and success, or who have performed acts of kindness and compassion, and still others who have persevered over physical, psychological or economic challenges to achieve a goal.