The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Neighborhoods Ashtabula

June 8, 2014

Lakeside graduate thanks district for education, compassion and excellence

It’s not often that a superintendent receives an e-mail from a student.  However, on May 29th, as Ashtabula Area City Schools Superintendent Patrick Colucci was putting the finishing touches on his commencement ceremony speech, an e-mail from LHS graduating senior, Olajuwan Smith, stopped him and caused him to throw away what he'd spent hours writing.
“I’m going through my emails and see this message from Olajuwan Smith,” Colucci said. “I'm reading this beautifully written letter and thought, 'This is what I need to read.’”
 Not only did Colucci read Olajuwan's words at the LHS graduation ceremony, he forwarded it to all district employees. 
From there, Smith's letter took on a life of its own. 
“Olajuwan was my student in second grade,” said teacher Nancy Amidon. “He was as wonderful then as he is now.”
 Amidon knew others shared the same thoughts.  She went on to organize a "meeting" with Olajuwan and his former teachers and administrators. 
“I simply sent a district email asking everyone who was mentioned in the letter to meet at the elementary campus,” she said. “In all 25 educators who impacted the life of Olajuwan gathered to say thank you to him.”    Smith's response surprised no one, “The teachers of Ashtabula City Schools owe me nothing. It is I who owe them.”
Smith will be attending The University of Akron in the fall. He plans on majoring in Computer Engineering.

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