Special School District (SSD) has recognized Mitchell Herndon, a junior at Affton High School, with a Rosemary Zander Award at their annual Commitment to Kids Banquet on April 27.
Founded in 1988, the Rosemary Zander Award program recognizes the accomplishments of 22 students receiving services from SSD. While their achievements are varied, their stories all tell of students who possess positive attitudes and an unwavering will to succeed. Students were honored for their achievements in academics, arts, athletics, communications, vocational training, independent living skills and community service.
Mitchell Herndon’s campaign slogan when running for and subsequently being elected student council president at Affton High School was: “Taking a stand for you!” Although this may sound like typical politician speak, it carries extra meaning with Mitchell and his fellow classmates.
The summer between sixth and seventh grade, Mitchell experienced numerous complicated illnesses that compromised his abilities to walk, run, balance, hear, and caused other sensory and nerve complications. He missed part of seventh grade and most of eighth grade, and when he came back to school he was using a wheelchair.
Mitchell is a member of the Teen Life Council at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, has attended the Missouri Youth Leadership Forum for students with disabilities, is active in his church and participates in service activities.
Mitchell is currently an honor roll student at Affton High and is enrolled in advanced placement (AP) and honors classes. He uses both a cane and wheelchair at times, and still receives periodic treatments. So when Mitchell says he’s willing to take a stand for his fellow students, he means it literally—even if he has to use a cane to do so.
About the Rosemary Zander Award
The Rosemary Zander Awards were named in honor of an SSD teacher who dedicated her career to the success of her students. When Zander retired, she planned to devote her time to presenting seminars and workshops on building students’ self-esteem. She was unable to fulfill her plans due to a tragic accident that took her life. But her mission lives on today in the form of the Rosemary Zander Awards, the highest honor awarded to SSD students.