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Model of self determination
by Garrett E. Valenzuela
Nov 06, 2013 | 1155 views | 0 0 comments | 31 31 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by Garrett Valenzuela -- Cameron Stewart, a senior at Sparks High School, faced an uphill battle during his time at Sparks High and his self determination and maturity have grown, causing his teachers to deem him Student of the Month for October.
Tribune photo by Garrett Valenzuela -- Cameron Stewart, a senior at Sparks High School, faced an uphill battle during his time at Sparks High and his self determination and maturity have grown, causing his teachers to deem him Student of the Month for October.
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It is not often that a young reporter makes an interviewee nervous enough to have him anxiously smile, utter single-word answers to questions and hope that he can run out the clock and escape back to his school work. Though he did not talk much it was easy to see that Sparks High School senior Cameron Stewart only acted this way after receiving a little glory for his hard work.

Stewart, 18, is in his final year at Sparks High and spent the past three years becoming continually more involved around campus. Through his Comprehensive Life Skills (CLS) class, Stewart has managed and coordinated volunteer efforts to help various school clubs, local businesses and the school’s self-maintained coffee bar.

Stacey Conner, CLS teacher at Sparks High, said the class will work with businesses such as Sparks Florist and the Sparks Library to build community relationships and get a taste for what work after high school could be like. She said the in-house coffee bar takes a lot of initiative and tedious work to maintain, which she said Stewart has excelled at.

“We do everything from supplies to inventory to making and delivering the food and running the register,” Conner said. “Cameron is actually one of our very best students for that and is one of our managers because everything we have questions about he always has the answer. He is a really good student.”

Stewart was out on a morning coffee delivery when Conner informed him that he was chosen as Student of the Month for October. She said he didn’t know he was nominated, but he was unable to hold in the excitement when she broke the news to him.

“I was surprised and really excited,” Stewart said. “The lunch buffet was my favorite part. The limo ride was fun, but lunch was the best part.”

Conner said one of the reasons for Stewart’s nomination, and eventual awarding, for Student of the Month was his self determination when he was relocated to Sun Valley. Since he was attending Sparks High School on a variance, his transportation to the school was not provided, but she said that did not stop him from getting to school on time.

“He was taking public transportation by himself just to get to school every day,” Conner said.  “He had a contract because he wasn't coming in as often as (the administration) wanted him to so he took the initiative to get here and be here on time every day, and that takes a lot. It was fantastic.”

Stewart said the Regional Transportation Commission buses were not too difficult to figure out, and he said he used his future as motivation to be at school every day.

“I was motivated by graduation and getting a job,” he said with a laugh. “I can’t stay in school forever.”

Outside of his job training through the CLS class, Stewart also has participated in the school choir for the past two years. He said the group is working on Christmas songs in preparation for the upcoming fall concert. He added that his love for singing is only boosted by the environment of the choir class.

“It does feel like a family. Everyone is really friendly,” he said.

Outside of school Stewart is a big Green Bay Packers fan and loves watching football anytime it is on. (For the record, he thinks Aaron Rodgers will make a comeback). He also enjoys the local news and stays up to date on current events, which Conner said helps his ability to engage in the community.

“I think one of the biggest things we strive for in CLS is self determination and empowerment as far as our students being able to really evaluate what they want and figure out action steps on how to achieve that goal,” Conner said. “There has been a lot of things Cameron has had to go through and I have been really impressed with him as a student who often overcomes adversity. Some students I work with really do struggle with that self-determination factor because ultimately it equals quality of life.

“I wanted Cameron to have recognition when he displayed those things so he understood the magnitude of what he was doing and how much responsibility and maturity it did demonstrate. He is always polite and he has a wonderful sense of humor. I have really seen him mature over the years and it deserves recognition.”

Upon graduation, Stewart said he would like to find a job working with animals. As an owner of three cats and a dog he said there is always action around his home, but his pets provide a “calm and nice” presence for him.

“I definitely want to stay here and work around Sparks,” Stewart said. “It feels like home.”
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