By Alicia Dziak

The Springville Chamber of Commerce will be holding their annual awards ceremony this Saturday, Feb. 3. Among the honorees is SGI senior, MacKenzie Engel, being recognized as Springville Times’ Student of the Year.

“I believe I was nominated and awarded the Chamber’s Student of the Year Award because of my dedication to my school and community. I am involved in many athletic teams and clubs, and I work hard for my grades,” said MacKenzie. “The time and effort I have put into improving our school has been recognized by my peers, teachers, and community.”

MacKenzie was nominated by SGI business teacher and Village trustee Nils Wikman, who wrote, “As a student, MacKenzie has proven to be a motivated and dedicated individual who consistently perseveres in her daily workload.” Wikman also noted MacKenzie’s involvement in her school and community as reasons for the nomination.

“She is very committed to making SGI a better place for students, faculty, and staff,” he said in the nomination, referencing two special creative projects she has been involved in—painting a school hallway and designing the new Springville Village seal. “It is very refreshing to see a young woman who has the respect for the history of our community and the desire to preserve it in her own, small way.”

MacKenzie said her biggest school-related accomplishment during her high school tenure was planning, designing, and painting a large portion of the senior hallway at SGI. “This painting will be a part of our school for years to come, and will enable students to ‘Leave Your Mark’. This hallway will collect signatures of future graduating classes,” she explained.

Outside of school, MacKenzie, whose family owns Shamel Milling in East Concord, is very involved in 4H. “My proudest extracurricular achievements would definitely be when I was awarded Best Overall in Fine Arts in the Erie County 4H program two years in a row, and being able to mentor younger kids in the 4H Livestock Program,” she said. “Helping kids learn more about showing their livestock animals at the fair, and about the agriculture industry is how I spend most of my extra time. Seeing the kids excel in shows and competitions is the most rewarding aspect of what I do outside of school.”

MacKenzie is very involved in many other activities, from basketball and track, to Yearbook Club, but her passion is art, and the art classes she’s taken during her time at SGI have been her favorite. “I take several different art courses, and each one has taught me all different things,” she said. “My art classes have taught me not only how to draw, paint, and sculpt, but life lessons that go beyond the classroom. Art has inspired me to be the person I’ve always wanted to be— strong, passionate, and content.”

Because of this passion, MacKenzie plans to continue on this path after high school. “Once I graduate high school with my advanced Regents diploma, I plan on attending college to become an art teacher,” she said. “I have not yet selected a college, but I have been accepted to many. I have always wanted to pursue a career in Art Education, to pass on the same knowledge and life lessons my amazing teachers have given me.”

MacKenzie reflects on her time spent at SGI. “The most valuable lesson I have gained at SGI would to be valuing everyone’s opinions, and listening to others’ perspectives. This is what will teach you the most, and keeping an open mind in all situations is key,” she said.

“I think MacKenzie is one of many kids in our community that are hard working, respectful, active in the community, with many accolades to their credit,” said MacKenzie’s mom, Deb Engel. “I think MacKenzie was lucky to have one of our community leaders recognize her achievements and bring her successes and spirit to the attention of the Chamber. I’m very proud of all the accomplishments MacKenzie has achieved, big and small. I think that MacKenzie has a maturity beyond her years. This maturity has helped her find a solid footing as a student with balancing her efforts in school, community and family. She hasn’t had an easy road at times, but she has always shown a great deal of respect for herself and others along the way. I think her senior year she has blossomed into a beautiful young woman that I am so very proud of and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for her.”

MacKenzie offers this advice to younger students:

“My advice to any student just entering high school would have to be this quote, taken from my favorite book, The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. She writes ‘You can’t cling to the side your whole life. If you don’t want to sink, you better figure out how to swim.’ When you enter high school, don’t procrastinate, and treat others poorly. Be the best student, classmate, and friend you can be. Go beyond your comfort level and get involved in sports, clubs, and volunteer in your community. Springville offers so many great opportunities that just have to be discovered by students, like you.”