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Young essayists write about ‘kindest people’

Kenneth Murphy P.E. instructor Michele Batz one essay subjects was touched thstudent wrote thshe is kindest persthey know. | TinJohansson]for

Kenneth Murphy P.E. instructor Michele Batz, one of the essay subjects, was touched that a student wrote that she is the kindest person they know. | Tina Johansson]for Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 11, 2014 3:22AM

It is said that no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. And the people whom students featured in their essays about kindness will no doubt leave an unending impression.

On Tuesday night, a crowd of students, parents and teachers attended the annual Kindness Essay banquet sponsored by the Rotary Club of Illinois Beach Sunrise to hear students explain who is the kindest person in his or her life, and why. It culminated with the award of new Apple iPads.

President-elect of the Rotary Club, Shantal Taylor who is also a former city of Zion commissioner and longtime Lake County Sheriff department employee, started the program five years ago in Zion, the place where she grew up. This year, the event expanded to include students from Beach Park and Winthrop Harbor, and she credits the Rotary Club.

“They are the ones that really made this happen,” said Taylor.

The event, held in the lower level lunch room of the Zion-Benton Township High School New Tech Campus, included a buffet meal of roast beef, mashed potatoes and frozen custard catered by Culver’s of Zion. Taylor’s husband, Alan, and daughters, Nala and Alana, helped at the event.

While guests finished up their meals, Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran, keynote speaker, stressed the importance of being kind, and quoted biblical passages about kindness.

Winners of the iPads were Emma Randell of Kenneth Murphy School in Beach Park; Jasmine Smith of North Prairie Jr. High School in Winthrop Harbor; and Maya Blanchard a student at a Zion School Distict 6 grade school.

Parents glowed, while subjects of the essays were touched and teary-eyed. One of them in particular, Pat Walsh, a large man with red hair and beard, and an apparently big heart, had trouble keeping a dry eye.

His essay-writer, Jasmine Smith, said that Mr. Walsh, a youth minister at Zion Bible Church, is a “helpful, generous and caring” human being that impresses her to be like him. The student has witnessed Walsh being thoughtful with both church-goers including her own family, as well as strangers, citing the time he stopped to pick up an elderly woman who had fallen from her wheelchair, and another time when he helped her own family with food.

The essay written by Emma Randell focused on Michele Batz, P.E. teacher at Kenneth Murphy in Beach Park. Mrs. Batz has a “heart of gold” and encourages the student with her energy, leadership and generosity, according to Emma. She noted the generosity and kindness were apparent in Mrs. Batz with the program she created called Cory’s Project in memory of her son who died of cancer. Cory’s Project collects donations of Christmas gifts for children at a hospital in Milwaukee.

Maya Blanchard, a student at Zion School District 6 said Pastor Dave Adams from New Song Ministries in Zion was the kindest person she knows. Despite his responsibilities at church, Pastor Dave always takes time to listen and help people, including kids, said the student. Maya said Pastor Dave is positive, cheerful, and is open to new ideas which makes him the kindest person she knows.

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