Fischer wins Hoover USA honors
by Gregory R. Norfleet · News · November 02, 2012

West Branch High School senior Sarah Fischer took home one of three $5,000 scholarships from the annual Hoover Uncommon Student Award contest Saturday.

Fischer’s project partnered with Habitat For Humanity, testing homes for energy efficiency then leveraging grants and volunteer labor to seal drafts or replace appliances to save on energy.

“I was really excited when I heard my name called,” Fischer said. “There were a lot of great projects. To be chosen (among) the top is a huge honor.”

Fischer was the first presenter of the Fifteenth Annual Herbert Hoover Uncommon Student Award Presentation Day in the Figge Auditorium of the Hoover Presidential Library-Museum.

Judges asked her how many hours she put into the project, and she was not quite sure.

“I definitely put in a lot of hours,” she said. “And it ended up being worth it, being able to help people in my community.”

Fischer, the daughter of Scott and Cheryl Fischer of West Branch, entitled her project “Hoover Home Energy Audits.”

“Reducing energy usage is a great way for homeowners to save money and the environment,” she said. “I have a vision for West Branch to lead in energy efficiency.”

Two other students won the top $5,000 prizes: Julianne DeLessio, daughter of Stephen and Linda DeLessio of Bettendorf, who attends Pleasant Valley High School, and Dylan Johnson, son of Monty and Cheryl Johnson of Johnston, who attends Johnston High School.

In DeLessio’s project, “Dance For Me,” she helped the sick, poor and handicapped to “get exercise or express themselves through dancing.” Her project brought free, on-site dance workshops to children.

Johnson’s project, “Tools for a Stronger Tomorrow,” raised money and collected donations of new or used power tools and manual tools for the Appalachia Service Project “to aid with strengthening communities and dilapidated homes in the impoverished Appalachian region.” His program, along with matched donations, raised about $4,000 and collected more than 50 tools.

Other projects:

• Maya Amjadi, Cedar Falls High School, Cedar Falls, is a daughter of Hamid Amjadi and Michelle Buchan. Project: Collaboration Community. “This is a peer tutoring service offered weekdays during fourth hour lunch and Required Class Time shifts. Students receive help from fellow students in the areas of math, science, English and social studies, as well as foreign languages. Students have taken advantage of this outlet by receiving help on homework, getting questions answered before tests, and forming study groups.”

• Bradley Baudler, Nodaway Valley High School, Greenfield, is a son of Clifton and Sondra Baudler. Project: Brains + Basketball = A Winning Formula! “Brains and Basketball. These two are not an average combination but a formula for success. Twenty-three fourth and fifth grade students learned how academics and athletics go hand in hand during a week-long day camp. Fourteen high school athletes developed new leadership skills as they helped teach basketball, teamwork, science, technology, engineering, and math.”

• Alisa Behrens, Davenport West High School, Davenport, is a daughter of John and Kelly Behrens. Project: The Goal is Green. “The main goal is to raise money for Iowa 4-H and provide a donation to Soccer Grow, as well as make a personal profit to help my business grow, fund my further education, and to inform the public of the benefits that recycling holds. I plan to sell beautiful recycled metal art sculptures as an entrepreneurship.”

• Katie Boyle, Ridge View High School, Holstein, is a daughter of Marty and Martha Boyle. Project: Gymboree Proposal. “This is a project to create a healthy, active place in my community for young children to enjoy and grow. I am aiding my local community center with an $80,000 renovation to create a children’s Gymboree. The project will include: rock climbing walls, slides, tumble mats, and other equipment to help children develop healthy lifestyles.”

• Cassandra Davis, Pleasant Valley High School, Bettendorf, is a daughter of Scott and Susan Davis. Project: The Value of Agriculture. “To educate people on The Value of Agriculture, I created an interactive iBook about the agriculture industry in Iowa. This educational book is available to anyone with access to a computer. With my interactive iBook I hope to promote the industry of agriculture and educate the masses about the joys of farming.”

• Dylan DeClerck, West Des Moines Valley High School, Clive, is a son of Jaime and Michelle DeClerck. Project: Opportunity on Deck. “I founded this program for children who couldn’t afford traditional baseball leagues. This consisted of baseball clinics at Linnan Park in Clive for 34 participants, ages six to thirteen. The goals of the baseball league were for the participants to develop friendships and foster teamwork while playing America’s favorite pastime with the utmost moral standards.”

• Mark Gee, Johnston High School, Johnston, is a son of Mark and Jeannie Gee. Project: Dream Big With Plants. “Plants are important to our earth’s future, but people are often uninterested. I developed Dream Big with Plants to encourage upper elementary students to become excited about plants, understand through science, and continue learning on their own through activities including DNA extraction, conducting experiments on tomato plants, and presenting at a Plant Fair Finale. An uncommon interest helped us dream big.”

• Sahan Jayawardena, Newton Senior High School, Mason City, is a son of Harsha and Darshini Jayawardena. Project: Self-Guided Tour of Mason City. “This is a mobile phone application that provides a free self-guided tour to any visiting tourist. It contains a list of historical sites, pictures, video, and step by step directions directly in the application. This application can be downloaded for free and can be accessed anywhere.”

• Ian McDowell, Mid-Prairie High School, Wellman, is a son of Jack and Glenda Seward. Project: School District Mobile App. “I created an iPhone, iPad, and Android app for my school district allowing students, parents, and community members to do many things, including viewing time, date, and location of upcoming games, meetings, music events, checking grades and missing assignments from PowerSchool, checking balances and lunch accounts, notification of school delays and closings, and more!”

• Shelly Palmer, Mid-Prairie High School, Wellman, is a daughter of James and Donna Palmer. Project: Growing a Community Garden for Wellman. “The Wellman community garden allows volunteers the opportunity to grow fresh vegetables and learn how to garden. The garden provides fresh vegetables for senior center meals, and donations to the local food pantries and families in the community. Eating fresh vegetables is known to decrease the risk of obesity and heart disease.”

• Geoffrey Root, Dowling Catholic High School, West Des Moines, son of John and Monique Root. Project: SmallBizGive. “This is a service that matches small businesses hoping to grow their customer base with local charities looking for fundraising opportunities. On a predetermined date, supporters of the charity will purchase the goods or services offered by the small business. A percent of sales will be donated back to the charity. Since 2009, SmallBizGive has raised $2,500 for local charities.”

• Laura Tibbs, Iowa Falls-Alden High School, Iowa Falls, daughter of Allen and Jackie Tibbs. Project: Clean Out Your Locker for a Good Cause. “Many usable school supplies are thrown away at the end of each school year. This is very wasteful, and many people would happily use them. I collected used school supplies at the end of the school year in all the high schools in my county and donated the usable items to teachers and to school supply drives.”

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