Award honors BHS student, teacher

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Award honors BHS student, teacherA student and teacher at Burroughs High School have been recognized with the Congressional Merit Award by Rep. Kevin McCarthy.

Each year each principal of a local high school recommends a student who has demonstrated exemplary citizenship, volunteerism, community service and participation in extracurricular activities — all while maintaining a GPA of 3.5 or higher.

This year, BHS Principal David Ostash nominated senior Chad Cracraft for this honor.

“Chad is an outstanding student academically, but he is also one of those teens who has already cultivated the skills that translate to success after high school,” said Ostash.

“He has an ability to lead by example and build relationships that create a very positive environment. I don’t just expect him to do well in college but I expect him to be a leader and a success in his selected field.”

At age 18, Cracraft demonstrates an ability to balance a full load of advanced-placement classes (with a 4.5 GPA) with sports, volunteering and other extracurricular opportunities. “He is really quite artful about that — obviously, he is a very good time manager,” said Ostash. “But one of the reasons I admire him is that in my observation he is always at ease. He really juggles things with grace.”

Cracraft is planning to attend UCLA next year as an engineering student. Although he hasn’t chosen a specific discipline, he is looking forward to coming back after graduation and possibly working at China Lake.

Ostash noted that this year each student winner was allowed to select a teacher or staff member who had positively influenced him for the award.

Cracraft chose his AP chemistry teacher and Link Crew advisor, John Cosner. Cracraft said that Link Crew is a program that allows upperclassmen to be ambassadors for the incoming freshmen. “He’s so inspirational. I loved having him as a teacher, but I also loved being on Link Crew with him, getting to help the freshmen acclimate to the high school environment.”

“It’s no surprise to me that Mr. Cosner was selected,” said Ostash. “When I think of John, he has not only the conventional qualities you look for in a good teacher — academic preparation, lesson planning, dynamic instruction — but he has a matching performance aspect in his passion and delivery.

“John is communicative and alive. It’s like he’s not just teaching his lessons, he is singing them. Figuratively. And sometimes literally,” said Ostash. “I think he understands how you enhance the learning environment when you can bring it to life.”

Cosner had similarly glowing praise for the student who nominated him.

“Chad is an incredibly insightful young man — brilliant, easy to work with. But he was also really good about helping others,” said Cosner. “I watched him just do that naturally in the classroom, and he eventually started tutoring his fellow students. He is just a pleasure and a blessing to be around.”

“As teachers we encourage our students to work hard to do whatever they want. Chad is one of those that I know, absolutely, could do anything. And I can’t wait to see what he chooses to do.”

Cosner and Ostash also commented on the common thread of watching students return to the IWV to give back to the community that invested in them.

Cosner said that even though he didn’t always know he would go into teaching, he knew that he wanted to come back after graduating from Burroughs. “But I think that’s rare for a high schooler to recognize, let alone appreciate, the things about our community that make us great.”

“It is a rarity, in California, to live and work and go to school and worship and entertain in one zip code,” said Ostash. “Where I grew up — and I think it’s this way for most people — all those things are done in separate places. I think students like Chad see what you can accomplish when all those things are integrated.

“I can see how working at China Lake — where they are equipping the warfighter — would be an exhilarating choice. We are lucky to have so many of our students choose to come back and contribute here.”

Cracraft and Cosner will join other students and teachers in the 23rd Congressional District in collecting their awards next week at a ceremony in Lancaster. McCarthy said that the award reflects not only achievement, but also character and positive values of the students selected.

“We honor the hard work and dedication that these exemplary young men and women have demonstrated in their scholastic and community endeavors,” said McCarthy.

“I look forward to watching these young leaders continue to succeed in the future.”

Story First Published: 2014-05-07