Stritch’s Lauren Smith honored: Clay High’s ‘Stop the Bleed’ founder honored at Prisms

J. Patrick Eaken

Clay High School senior Nikolas McNeal and Cardinal Stritch senior Lauren Smith were honored as the Young Persons of the Year at the 26th Annual Prism Awards ceremony at Maumee Bay State Park Wednesday.
        McNeal spelled it out in a letter to Mercy Health – St. Charles President Craig Albers: “I am a student at Clay High School. We wish to take the necessary preemptive measures to ensure the safety of every student at Clay in case of an emergency.”
        In response to this heartfelt letter. Mercy Health – St. Charles administration and S&D Capital collaborated to donate the funds to purchase 90 “Stop the Bleed” kits for classrooms at Clay. That got it started.
        “Stop the Bleed,” an initiative to prevent excessive bleeding in emergencies, was established by the American College of Surgeons in response to the 2012 Sandy Hook tragedy, in an effort to limit deaths from violent injuries. By teaching civilians and public safety officers how to act as immediate responders, they can limit the trauma from severe blood loss and help save lives.
“This ‘Stop the Bleed’ campaign received local media coverage on TV and printed media, but also garnered national coverage on ABC News. In this campaign, Nick proved to be a change agent for our community helping to bring much needed safety training to our district while bringing positive media to our community,” said her nominator Jeffrey S. Ziviski, vice president of the Oregon School Board and chief financial officer for Mercy St. Charles Hospital.
        Mercy Health has partnered with schools, businesses and organizations throughout the region to train citizens how to stop bleeding in emergency situations. To date, members of the trauma team have helped prepare thousands of area residents to respond to a traumatic bleeding situation.
        “The Stop the Bleed education is so important. Training programs and public awareness campaigns such as CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver have helped save many lives – this program can too,” said Mercy Health Trauma and Burn Prevention Coordinator Nicole Knepper.
        Every Clay teacher received the training during an all-day health and wellness event sponsored by the school district. The next step was to give the teachers the kits should they need to use these skills.Stop the Bleed kits include latex-free gloves, tourniquet, compression bandage, bleeding control dressing, and instruction card and marker. They will be made available in each classroom.
        “Nikolas’ note was powerful because of the social awareness that he and members of the student council at Clay High School had about the types of emergencies that our youth deal with today,” Albers said. “Mercy Health - St. Charles Hospital has been a member of Oregon for nearly seven decades and we pledge to do what we can to make our community feel safe and cared for.”
McNeal is also is president of Clay’s student government and is currently ranked first in his class out of 300 students.  He is also president of Clay’s Model U.N. and Chess Club and participates in numerous more clubs and activities at Clay.
“It is for his leadership, educational excellence and change-focused community service that I am nominating Nick McNeal,” said Ziviski. “During the current school year at Clay High School, Nick has created other positive change. He reformed the Principal’s Advisory Committee, creating monthly meetings with the Principal bringing the student’s voice to the discussion. He drafted a reformed dress code and instituted a student coffee bar.
“Partnering with another Clay student, the Oregon community and local business, this year Nick was able to collect over 1,000 cans of food in one weekend by visiting businesses and talking to the business owners on the social importance of helping those individuals less fortunate,” Ziviski continued.
“Nick is also an accomplished musician, performing as a piano accompanist for school concerts, college auditoriums, and professional orchestra pits, while doing solo and ensemble performances. Nick has been an assistant music director of four theatrical productions and has released a full-length album.
“Nick NcNeal is a bright, personable, and highly intelligent, self-motivated individual capable of achieving any goal he sets his mind to. He is an ambitious student with a passion for philanthropy and public service. He is a model student and has represented Clay High School and the City of Oregon at a high level and his future is limitless.”
Lauren Smith
Cardinal Stritch senior Lauren Smith is in so many activities and won so many awards they could hardly be listed. Looking at her nomination for the Young Person of the Year Award, there are 31 of them.
The include helping hang Christmas lights around Safety Town for holiday season, helping serve dinners to elderly people at the East Toledo Family Center, helping paint a mural in downtown Toledo with Team Depot, packing food bags for people in need with Feed My Starving Children, organizing and leading class activities like blood drives, dances, and pep rallies, putting together baskets filled with art supplies for children withi cancer, helping teach middle schoolers about bullying and the different from of abuses.
That’s well over a half dozen — shall we name more?
OK. She has won the Youth Jefferson Award for outstanding leadership, attending the HOBY Ohio West conference for leadership, worked in human resources at the ProMedica headquarters during the Summer Youth Employment Program, and has won academic awards in English, math, science, theology, and art. She is in the top 10 of her class.
Sieja gives an anecdote about how Smith strived to come up with a solution in pre-calculus. He also praised her pursuit of a career, with nursing and law among the top choices, and the choices she has made to prepare for them.
“Not only did she make the decision to academically challenge herself, she made the decision to go against the grain of her classmates. When her classmates went one direction, she knew the correct path for her was elsewhere, and wisely chose the path less traveled. Even as an eighth grader, she chose to take a class that very few of her friends signed up for to pursue her own goals. While this would be no small feat for anyone, it is even more commendable for her, since teenage identity and personality are focused on ‘fitting-in’ and being hyper-conscious of others’ opinions of them.”
We’ve still only listed less than half of her awards and honors.
“At Lauren’s core, she is a relentlessly positive person,” said her nominator, Eric Sieja, STEMM coordinator and robotics coach at Stritch. “That positivity is clearly contagious…Lauren’s ability to see the big picture is her most impressive feature.”
Seija continues, “She is one of the hardest-working and most adept students with whom I have ever come in contact.” (— includes quotes from a Press file feature)


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