May 3, 2022
Category: Champs


It’s hard to believe Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo (CIS) just hosted its 15th Champs event last week! Kalsec and PNC were the presenting sponsors for this annual event which honors community partners who share in the CIS vision— an engaged community where every child fulfills his or her promise—by actively putting forth time, energy, talent and resources to drive this vision to reality.

While Ask Me About My 12,000+ Kids will be featuring interviews with each of the 2022 award recipients in the weeks to come, here’s a little about each of those individuals who were honored at Champs:

TRACY CHAPPELL was honored with a Champ award that was sponsored by Lake Michigan Credit Union and Miller-Davis Company. A seventh grade science teacher at Milwood Magnet Middle School, Tracy Chappell is a true ambassador and advocates tirelessly for students, their families, and for CIS. Tracy makes it her mission to make sure her students know about the array of resources available to them, inviting CIS Site Coordinator Missy Best into her classroom each year to talk about CIS. And if a parent is struggling and wondering where to turn, Tracy goes out of her way to connect them to CIS.

In the fall of 2019, Tracy helped her school and CIS provide a safe space for students by creating a GSA Club at Milwood Magnet. The GSA club is a student-driven school club that aims to create a safe, welcoming, and accepting school environment for all youth, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Thanks to her support and guidance, students have been able to turn to this resource in their school—both in person and virtually—over these past three years.  

ALAYA HUNTER was honored with a Champ award that was sponsored by Humphrey Products and Miller Johnson. A senior at Kalamazoo Central High School, Alaya sought out CIS support as an underclassman. Empowered by that support, Alaya, who will be graduating in the top third of her class this spring, challenges herself daily to step out of her comfort zone and help empower others.

Alaya’s mother and grandmother, along with her CIS and KPS family have nurtured her along the way, but it’s Alaya who leans into leadership roles that have enriched her school and those around her. Whether she is working with the Kalamazoo Central Women’s Group, serving as an active member of the National Honor Society, volunteering to help organize the senior prom, or serving her community by volunteering at the Free Store in Kalamazoo, Alaya allows her quiet, charismatic, and strong presence to shine on all.

CATHY BORIS honored with the Gulnar Husain Volunteer Award which was sponsored by the Gulnar Husain Memorial Fund. (Read more about Gulnar Husain here.) A vital and dedicated CIS volunteer, Cathy is committed to the students, teachers, and staff at Northeastern Elementary School. Working closely with CIS Site Coordinator Dana Flynn, Cathy, a retired early elementary teacher, shares her gifts in a variety of ways. She has provided classroom support, assisted on school beautification projects, and currently provides one-on-one tutoring support to eight students. The students love Cathy and look forward to their weekly tutoring sessions with her.

In addition to volunteering through CIS, Cathy serves monthly meals at the Kalamazoo Gospel Mission. She also regularly volunteers with children ages six weeks through five years at The Kalamazoo Drop-In Child Care Center, and for Peace House, a place where children on the Eastside are learning their power as peacemakers, strengthening their community, and discovering their ability to control their destiny and change the world.

DIANE LANG was honored with the Diether Haenicke Promise of Excellence Award which was sponsored by Zoetis. This award is named for Western Michigan University President Emeritus Diether Haenicke. For more than three decades, Diane Lang devoted herself to educating students in the Kalamazoo Public Schools, most of those years serving as a math teacher at Milwood Magnet Middle School. Since retiring in 2007, Diane has continued to go above and beyond for kids. As a volunteer at the very school she once taught, she created a school store and engages students in learning the ins and outs of running this business. Considered a difference maker, a game changer, and a dream maker, Diane Lang has extended her reach through Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo, Pretty Lake, Kzoo Parks, and the Solstice Scholarship to empower students and help them pursue their dreams.

Jody Sikkema was also honored with the CIS of Kalamazoo Staff Notable Mention which was sponsored by Chase Bank. Jody is committed to students and families as a CIS Site Coordinator – having directly supported KPS students for over 16 years. Jody currently works at Hillside Middle School and has passionately coordinated vital services for hundreds of students at multiple KPS schools over the years.

We want to give an EXTRA BIG shout out to all of this year’s Champ sponsors. Their ongoing support has made our work and this celebration possible:

Presenting sponsors: Kalsec and PNC.

Senior sponsors: Abraxas Worldwide, Chase, Fifth Third Bank, Landscape Forms, Maestro, and Zoetis.

Junior sponsors: Humphrey Products, Lake Michigan Credit Union, Miller Davis Company, Miller Johnson, Warner Norcross + Judd.

Sophomore sponsors: Bronson Healthcare, Comerica, CSM Group, FEMA Corporation of Michigan, Incorporated, Huntington Bank, LKF Marketing, Schupan, Seelye Automotive, The Kalamazoo Promise, and Unifab Corporation.

Freshman sponsors: BDO, Consumers Energy, Greenleaf Trust, Radisson Plaza Hotel, and Welsh & Associates, Incorporated.

If you missed it or want to enjoy the celebration again, visit the CIS Kalamazoo YouTube channel here throughout the month of May.

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