■ Breckinridge Elementary fifth-grader Peter Ramirez has earned the title of Lexington's 2013 junior fire chief. Ten-year-old Ramirez learned a lot about potential kitchen accidents while researching his brochure for National Fire Prevention Week.
"Use baking soda instead of water on grease fires, don't put clothing over the fire when using a stove, and don't put metal in the microwave," he said, describing some highlights of his safety tips. Ramirez said he wants to make sure people are safe while having fun in the kitchen. Otherwise, "you could possibly lose your house or your life."
Ramirez efforts earned him a uniform and a badge presented recently by Fire Chief Keith Jackson. He also has honorary duties such as touring a fire station, meeting Lexington-Fayette County Urban Government council members, visiting Blue Grass Airport, appearing on TV news shows and riding in the community parade.
■ Richard Sanchez, a recruiter in the school district's Migrant Education Program, has been selected a 2013 Rising Star by the Lexington Young Professionals Association.
In his work with Fayette County Public Schools, Sanchez connects migrant families and students with community and educational services. He also networks extensively with apartment complexes, local grocers and resource centers. He also received Lexington Public Library's Superior Performance Award in 2009 and Insight Para Ti's Community Excellence Award in 2013. Sanchez moved to the United States from Lima, Peru, in 2002 after attending college in Puebla, Mexico. He earned a bachelor's degree in digital arts and electronic media from Kentucky State University, and he joined the school district in 2011.
■ For the second year in a row, Centre College has been ranked No. 1 in the nation for overall happiness, according to the recently released 2013 Alumni Factor guidebook. The Alumni Factor measures six main outcomes — college experience, overall assessment, financial success, overall happiness, alumni giving and graduation rate — to calculate its rankings.
In addition to claiming the leadership position in the Overall Happiness category, Centre's alumni-giving rankings were among the best in the nation, coming in at No. 2 among liberal arts colleges and No. 3 overall in the nation. Centre also garnered a No. 3 liberal arts college ranking and a No. 6 national ranking in the Overall Assessment category.
Collectively, these strong outcomes earned Centre an even higher overall rank than last year. Among liberal arts colleges, Centre is ranked No. 5 in the nation, and among all colleges and universities, Centre is ranked No. 8 in the nation.
The No. 5 national ranking represents an increase of five spots over last year and puts Centre just behind Washington and Lee University, the Naval and Military academies, and Claremont McKenna College. The No. 8 overall ranking, an increase of 10 spots, also keeps Centre among strong company, including Princeton, Washington and Lee, the Naval Academy, Yale, West Point, Rice and Claremont McKenna.
Complete rankings can be found at Alumnifactor.com.
■ Kimberly Merritt, assistant director of admissions for student recruitment at Eastern Kentucky University, was recently elected president of the Kentucky Association of Blacks in Higher Education. Originally called the UK Colloquium, the association was founded in 1983 by William Parker, former vice chancellor of minority affairs at the University of Kentucky, and other minority leaders in the Commonwealth. The organization was established to improve the professional status and the living and learning conditions of blacks employed at institutions of higher education throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
Merritt, a member of the association since 2003, has previously served as southeast regional representative and vice president of the organization. In her new role as president, Merritt will work toward developing a structured mentoring program, which is important to continue the association's mission of enhancing the personal and professional growth of those to come.
■ Jennifer Rodabaugh a teacher at Lansdowne Elementary, received nearly $1,100 in school supplies from OfficeMax earlier this month. Supplies included a new chair, Canon camera, Kindle Fire and a software package, along with markers, notebooks, folders, scissors, glue sticks and more to stock her classroom.
A long-time first-grade teacher, Rodabaugh this year became Lansdowne's new STEAM lab teacher, working with more than 730 children in grades K-5. Principal Jennifer Fish nominated her for the OfficeMax giveaway.
■ Bluegrass Community and Technical College's Latino Leadership and College Experience Camp has been honored as being among America's top programs that increase academic opportunities and achievement for Latino students. Elected officials and higher education leaders from across the country joined Excelencia in Education in Washington, D.C., to honor BCTC and other national finalists. BCTC's camp was selected from among 165 competitors from 22 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico as one of 22 national finalists for the 2013 Examples of Excelencia recognition.
■ The Alliance for a Healthier Generation has named Angela Stark, a physical education and health teacher at Southern Middle School, and Casey Hinds, a parent at Ashland Elementary, as Healthy Schools Program ambassadors because they inspire students and staff to eat better, move more and be well. Stark and Hinds were among 37 chosen for 2013-14.
Stark launched Southern Middle's immersion into a culture of wellness with her colleagues. Southern renovated its after-school snack shop to feature healthful food items, changed the sports drink vending machine to stock only water and 100 percent fruit juice, installed a walking track and started a team sports and lifetime wellness class. In 2012, Stark was selected to run the New York City Marathon for the alliance's Team Healthier Generation and raised close to $4,700. Because of her leadership and the work of the school's staff and students, Southern received a bronze national recognition award from the alliance.
At Ashland Elementary, Hinds has been a leader in strong wellness policy changes. She has worked to replace cookie and candy fundraisers for the PTA with a 5K fun run and has organized an annual schoolwide jog-a-thon. Hinds is a proponent of not using food as a reward, encouraging school faculty and staff to give extra recess bonuses instead. She also uses blogs and social media to deliver her health promotion messages to parents, teachers and students around the state.
■ PPG Industries, a global coatings and specialty products company, has presented a $1,000 grant to Deep Springs Elementary to fund the school's 125 kindergarten students' educational field trip to Bi Water Farm and Greenhouse. Established in 1951, the foundation helps to enhance the quality of life in communities where its employees live and work.