Two Gering elementary students were announced as 2021 Carson Scholars through the national corporation called the Carson Scholars Fund on March 3.
Each year, both Northfield Elementary and Geil Elementary nominate one student from their schools for the prestigious honor. This year, fifth graders Faith Libsack from Northfield and Jaxie John from Geil were selected alongside hundreds of students grades four to 11 from across the country to receive a $1,000 scholarship to be used toward a college education.
“I was very happy,” Libsack said about finding out she was selected as a Carson Scholar.
“I was very excited,” John said. “I was kind of in disbelief because it’s the whole country.”
Both Libsack and John had to fill out a special application after being nominated by their schools, and part of that application included an essay about adversity in their lives.
John, who is a swimmer, said she wrote about losing the indoor swimming pool a few years back and how it impacted the community.
“I gave reasons why it had to close and what it did for the community, and how the community felt about it,” she said. “And how some people stepped up and tried to make a change.”
Geil principal Angela Morris said that John’s involvement in the community is one of the many things that made her stand out as a nominee and eventual Carson Scholar recipient.
“She loves the environment as far as her community and wanting to be part and do things to better her community,” Morris said. “A couple years ago, we wanted to raise money to fix our soccer field up, and she was like, ‘Yeah, let’s do this. I know that I only have two years left at school here, but, you know, it’s not about me. It’s about kids in the future at Geil to enjoy the soccer.’ So she was super excited about that.”
Libsack wrote in her essay about getting her appendix out, and the anxiety that came with it.
“I got my appendix out and then I lost a lot of weight, and I had to be in there for like a week,” she said. “I was very nervous that I was going to die because I had IVs all over. And that’s how my anxiety happened.”
Northfield principal John Wiedeman explained that despite all the anxiety that Libsack faced, she still remained positive for her peers, which is why Northfield staff decided to nominate her.
“Faith is a student who can always be counted on to help other students if we need a peer model, or we need some support for a student in one way or another. She gives her best at all times,” he said. “Faith is a person who puts her best foot forward, and to overcome some of the things that she wrote about with the anxiety side of things and continue to be that person and not let that bring her down, that just really speaks about who Faith is.”
Both John and Libsack said they already know where that money will go once they graduate high school.
“I already know where I’m going. I want to go to Chadron. … That’s where my cousin goes, and that’s where me and my best friend want to go together,” Libsack said. “I want to be a vet, a hairstylist or a nurse or a dentist.”
“I know I want to go to Lincoln,” John said. “I’m not quite sure yet, I’m kind of iffy on what I want to do.”
As fifth graders, they both still have some time to decide for sure and even change their minds. But what both Morris and Wiedeman like about this scholarship program is that it honors elementary students and encourages them to think about their future.
“We recognize a lot of kids for a lot of different things, and sometimes the students who do what they’re supposed to do all the time get overlooked, because we can trust them to do that,” Wiedeman said. “This is a really cool program to try to help capture those students who just come to school and do what they’re asked to do, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. … And so it’s cool to be able to reward Faith for just being so consistent.”
“I just think it’s a great opportunity for elementary because we have scholarships, you know, all through high school and junior high, but this is a scholarship that can focus on elementary students,” Morris said. “I think that sometimes kids in elementary think they have to wait until they’re in high school, that their grades don’t really matter … and they do matter. And not only grades, but who you are as a person, your integrity, how you think and view your community and how important it is to you and being a leader in that. And I think Jaxie really encompasses all that.”