Britton-Hecla student Emma Storley was awarded the Bill Michal Student Leadership Award given by the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. She is pictured with the award’s namesake, Bill Michal, who was the featured speaker at the awards presentation.

National Trip Inspires Student

She was inspired, and now Emma Storley wants to inspire others.

Storley, the daughter of Shane and Vonda Storley of Britton who will be a junior at Britton-Hecla High School this fall, was selected last spring as the South Dakota representative to the prestigious American Spirit Awards in New Orleans, LA. She attended the event with her family June 7-9.

One student in grades 8-12 was selected from each state and the District of Columbia as a recipient of the Billy Michal Student Leadership Award presented by the National World War II Museum. Michal was just six years old when he helped his school win a statewide contest for collecting scrap metal for the war effort, and his example of hard work and patriotism is the basis of the award. Michal was the featured speaker at this year’s banquet.

Being around the best of the best rubbed off on Storley.

“I was impressed with the other kids that got awards. There was a book that talked about why everybody received the award, and a lot of kids were really involved in everything. They also went out and started their own things and didn’t wait for people to come to them. It kind of changed my thinking and wanted me to be more involved and more proactive about things.”

Of course, Storley was also listed in that book, and her nominator, her online psychology teacher Michelle Nelin-Maruani of the Northern State University E-Learning Center, who will receive her own award from the National World War II Museum at the end of this month, reinforced the reason why.

“When I heard of the Billy Michal Student Leadership Award, my mind went quickly to Emma. She has demonstrated a keen understanding of the world that was evident from the very start of the school year. She is interested in why and how our communities function as they do, along with what she can do to make her world a better place. It is encouraging to see this spirit in students.”

When considering the nomination, Nelin-Maruani contacted the Britton-Hecla School, and what she found reinforced her impression of Storley.

“I was so proud to hear that Emma was indeed “the” student that exemplified the types of characteristics the award was intended to highlight. Her sense of teamwork in and out of school as she volunteers in creative ways are exactly what is needed.”

Storley has been active in volleyball, basketball, and cheerleading, has served as a student liaison for the Marshall County Food Pantry, served on Student Council, and was South Dakota’s Junior Snow Queen. For the junior-to-be, it’s really all about her community.

“I think leadership is a lot of the time just setting a good example for younger kids,” stressed Storley. “It can be just being nice at school or picking up trash in the hallway. I think it starts with a good example. I just want to get some things started – anything that helps our community. Britton is just like a big family.”

Britton-Hecla High School Principal Carrie James said that Storley walks the walk.

“Emma is a leader who shows her leadership best by the examples she sets,” said James. “She has a positive attitude, works hard, and gives her all to her classes, activities, and other tasks she takes on. She takes time for people around her including those younger than herself. I have watched her work with younger students in her activities, taking time to help them and show them what to do and including them. Sports, cheerleading, dance, and student council fill her time and are places I see her as a leader as well as in the classroom.”

Serving as that example is a primary reason Storley was nominated for the award.

“Crucial to the nomination from my perspective was the fact that Emma stands as an example that no matter where you are – in rural South Dakota to the largest cities – everyone can and should make a difference,” concluded Nelin-Maruani. “She does just that, with kindness, integrity, little regard for the demands on her time, and genuine concern for others.”

Marshall County Journal

PO Box 69, Britton, SD 57430
Phone: (605) 448-2281
Fax: (605) 448-2282