Danielle Miller repeated the phrase, "I'm a bad person."
Then she lifted her arm, symbolizing her efforts to rise to the challenges of life. However, her arm easily was pushed down by Andy Seebold, director of business services at local South Central Preferred.
"How many of us have said, 'I can't do this, I'm not strong enough, I'm gonna fail?'" he asked. "Think about the power of self talk, about the power these emotions have over us."
Seebold then told Danielle, 17, to say that she was a good person and then raise her arm. When he tried to push it down again, her resistance was stronger.
"I learned that you don't give up on yourself," she said later.
Danielle, a senior at Red Lion Area Senior High School, was among 16 high school students from York and Adams counties who were recognized Wednesday at the 18th annual York Area Bowling Proprietors' Association Turnaround Achievement Awards at Aldersgate United Methodist Church in York Township.
Seebold was a guest speaker at the event, where five of the students each received $400 in scholarship money to use for their post-high-school education.
The 16 students were honored for their commitment, exceptional effort and perseverance over personal and academic obstacles.
Micheal Witte, a 17-year-old senior at Spring Grove Area Senior High School, went from being a problem student to improving his grades, attendance and attitude.
"Something just clicked in my head," he said. "I wanted to graduate. It means a lot to be recognized for how much I've changed since my freshman year."
Micheal said he plans to do some factory work for now but would like to be a lawyer one day.
Michael Dumczyki, 19, a senior at Eastern York High School, was a distraction in
class, often making other students laugh, while having trouble keeping his seat.
Dumczyki also dealt with losing his father, Andrej Dumczyki, four years ago. The student said he joined the school wrestling team, which helped him improve his behavior and attitude.
"It makes me really happy to be recognized," he said. "I'm proud I changed my life around."
Like Micheal, Danielle said she changed her negative ways because she wanted to graduate with her classmates. She said she will receive training and work as a certified nursing assistant with future plans to become a licensed practical nurse.
"It's really important to me to get this award, to keep going," she said. "There were times I didn't feel I was going to make it. I was going to give up."
-- Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at firstname.lastname@example.org.