For his work as a top-achieving student and his heart for community service, Ethan has been named a 2020 WonderKid by WonderWorks Museum in Pigeon Forge. His teacher, Angie Sybert, presented Ethan with his recognition certificate and four passes to the museum on Saturday.
The award is part of WonderWorks’ first annual WonderKids Recognition Program for Tennessee students. Sybert nominated the first grader for the esteemed award, which highlights “the hard work of outstanding students inside and outside the classroom.”
Sybert’s nomination letter says, “Ethan is the kind of student that teachers dream of teaching.”
According to the application, “WonderKids honors students in the community who not only take an interest in science but who excel in community engagement and academic excellence.
Part of WonderWorks’ educational mission is to make science fun and entertaining. WonderKids is a way to recognize students in the community. It recognizes not only those students who take an interest in science, but students who excel in community engagement or excellence in education.
In February, WonderWorks invited teachers to nominate students in any of three categories:
Academic Excellence — presented to a student who displays excellence in academia. They exceed the expectations of their teachers and peers and realize the importance of educational rigor in their future.
Service to Community — presented to a student who goes above and beyond when it comes to helping others. They demonstrate compassion and a strong aptitude for self-awareness.
Future Scientist — presented to a student who exhibits passion when it comes to the sciences. They live each day as an innovator and discoverer, hoping to one day change the world through their love of science.
“I nominated Ethan under the category of ‘Service to Community,’” Sybert explained
In her letter, Sybert explains what an inquisitive student and kind-hearted individual the first grader is.
“He is so excited to learn new things and to dig deep into content to assure he truly understands it. He is a conscientious student with a special fondness of the sciences. He wants to know the whys and hows of everything. His mother tells me that his bedroom decoration is science-themed with a glow-in-the-dark solar system on the ceiling. He said one day in class, ‘I love getting messy for science. I like to see chemical reactions happen in front of me.’ We were making oobleck from starch and water,” Sybert wrote.
“Ethan is not only a future scientist and a top-achieving student, but he is also very concerned about those around him. I am nominating him under the category of service to the community because of his efforts to feed the local homeless population. With the help of his Boy Scout den, his big project this year was helping to organize a food drive. The non-perishable food items were used to fill the local blessing boxes for the homeless and hungry in downtown Kingsport.”
Blessing boxes are simply micro food pantries located around the community that offer food and supplies, mainly for the homeless population. It is a take what you can use opportunity for anyone in need, any time of day, the letter explains. Local pantries have limited operational times and transportation is often a problem for the homeless. Through the blessing boxes, Ethan and his den are feeding Kingsport residents on a daily basis. Ethan’s mother reports he has a huge heart for the homeless and is always asking how he can help them more by donating food, clothes and more.
“Ethan’s huge heart is not only concerned about the homeless, but he is also a good friend to his peers,” Sybert’s letter continues. “He is always eager to be a help and never needs prompting; he genuinely enjoys being of service to others. He is an all-around WONDERful kid. It is my pleasure to nominate Ethan Holden.”
A ceremony was planned for Saturday, May 16, to formally recognize the Tennessee winners with former NASA astronaut Dr. Don Thomas scheduled to deliver the keynote address and present the awards. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremony was canceled.
Instead, Ethan received his award and four tickets to WonderWorks from his teacher, on the steps of his school.