GRAND RAPIDS, MI (June 2, 2011) – Caledonia High School always honors only one student with its Principal’s Award for leadership, but the school’s top administrator couldn’t decide between two students, so he presented it to Samuel Ernest and Gretchen Mortenson, both attendees of Thornapple Covenant Church.
The awards were presented during graduation ceremonies for the school’s largest-ever class of 341 students. The awards include a $1,000 scholarship for each winner.
Mortenson’s organizational abilities and compassion have benefited the school and surrounding community. In addition to serving in student government, she was instrumental in leading a large blood drive and numerous other activities.
She also mentored a middle school girl through a program called “A More Beautiful You” and volunteered weekly at the Michigan Refugee Center. Mortenson’s commitment to others also is evidenced by the three summers she volunteered at Portage Lake Covenant Bible Camp in Onekama, Michigan, and participation in multiple mission trips.
Mortenson received the Presidential Scholarship at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, where she will study education.
Ernest was the school orchestra’s concertmaster for three years, class president for two, and his peers honored him as the student who most shows integrity/kindness/helpfulness.
Ernest mentored a middle school boy and worked with the roughly 60 Bhutanese refugees at Thornapple. He also participated in the Youth Nexus leadership training at North Park University in Chicago, Illinois, and is a member of the Thornapple church’s worship team.
He will study violin performance at Seattle (Washington) Pacific University. He received a full-tuition scholarship to the school.
Mortenson is the daughter of Kirk and Gail Mortenson. Ernest is the son of Beth and James Ernest.