This month’s National Renaissance Student of the Month is Grace Ankenbrand from Cane Bay High School in Summerville, SC. Nominator Debra Summers writes (lightly edited):

“A true Renaissance program is student-run, and after ten years of having some student participation and some student leadership, I can attest that our program is now truly student-run. Grace leads two meetings a week, one on Wednesday mornings and a second on Wednesday afternoons. Previously we might have had 5-10 students come once a week to a meeting; now there are 20-25 students per meeting (morning and afternoon) in attendance. A typical meeting starts with an opener that students answer in our Renaissance Google Classroom. This could be a reflection question based on previous activity or a fun question to use as a conversation starter. Next, Grace leads the students through the calendar of events she has planned for the next month. So far this year Grace has organized the following events: Foot Bump Friday (previously known as fist bump – but that changed due to Covid); swim, cross country, and tennis team treat bags (sports that had never been recognized in years prior); decorated the varsity football locker room for senior night; hosted a luncheon for custodians where Renaissance students took over the lunch duty for our custodians (while the custodians enjoyed a catered meal and a duty-free lunch); appreciation treat bags for administration the first week of school; paint night, pizza night, and Chick-fil-A fundraisers with the proceeds going to My Sister’s House (a local women’s domestic abuse shelter); and Grace came in on a teacher workday to clean and organize our Renaissance closet.

“On top of that, Grace single-handedly brought back our school Homecoming Parade (which hasn’t happened for the past eight years). Grace contacted our principal and was told if she could plan the parade and receive approval from our local police department, the school would have their parade again. Well, Grace buckled down, devised a safe route, contacted the police department, received approval from the police chief, advertised the parade, organized the entries, and in the end…watched as approximately 500 student and staffulty members marched, rode floats, or performed in the parade. And this doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what she has planned for the rest of the year.”

How long have you been involved with Renaissance?

This is my third year with Renaissance.

What’s a favorite Renaissance moment for you?
Honestly, my favorite Renaissance moments are talking with Mrs. Purdy and Ms. Summers about future things for Renaissance. I love being able to give our members opportunities to showcase their talents and spirit.

My favorite event we’ve done was called “Custodians’ Hype”. We invited our Custodial staff to have an hour off and eat wings we purchased at Buffalo Wild Wings. Renaissance members had a rotation to replace trash bags, clean the hallways, and take out the trash during our lunches.

How has Renaissance impacted your school’s culture?
I believe Renaissance has positively improved our school. Every week, we work to help recognize the students at our school. I think we have impacted our culture positively by giving our quiet, athletic, art, or/and introverted students at our school recognition.

How has Renaissance affected you personally?
Renaissance has given me an opportunity to be a leader at Cane Bay High School. Also, I have earned recognition through Renaissance which is something I struggled with. I always put in hours of work without people noticing. I am grateful to say that Renaissance has given students opportunities I didn’t have as a freshman.

What advice would you give to someone just starting with Renaissance?
The advice I would give to a new member of Renaissance would be to show up. As a leader, I see who shows up to everything and appreciate it. When you show up and show out all to all of our meetings, events, or activities, I automatically see them and know that I can trust them to do the extra things we do behind the scenes.

Grace will receive a water bottle and a lapel pin in recognition of her achievement.

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