Northeast senior writes story of resilience during time in school hallways

Yelaniya is proof that how a chapter of someone’s life begins doesn’t necessarily dictate how the chapter is going to end.
The Northeast High School senior has overcome several obstacles to become a beacon of hope for students within the building. She has written a life script that now includes words such as Student Council member, peer mediator, elementary school mentor and treasured friend.
Yelaniya said she has gained more confidence and self-esteem since arriving on campus as a sophomore. She said it is meaningful to support her fellow Rockets with kind and encouraging actions.

“It’s been nice to know that I’m trusted, that people can come to me and I can help them work through their problems,” Yelaniya said. “I feel like that’s really important to have someone at school who you know can be trusted and who you can trust. That’s really special to me. To know that people think of me as one of those students is a good feeling.”
Northeast mentors Keri Applebee and Ellie Blume both said Yelaniya’s never-give-up mentality has allowed her to become a positive role model. Applebee is the school’s principal and Blume is a school counselor.
“She is a pretty awesome young lady,” Applebee said. “I would describe her as a quiet leader. She is a leader in a variety of settings, from the classroom to clubs and activities such as Equity Cadre and Emerging Educators to simply the way she carries herself in the hallway. She is kind, funny and cares about others.”
“She’s just exceptional in every way,” Blume said. “No matter what difficulties come her way, she overcomes them. She strives to do better. There are a lot of good things that she’s doing.”

Life wasn’t as bright for Yelaniya several years ago. She missed six weeks of her freshman year after contracting both pneumonia and influenza. She wondered if she would be healthy enough to play basketball again.
Yelaniya then transferred to Northeast the following August. She had to overcome a period of social adjustment and conflict early in her sophomore year before blossoming.

“I did a lot of self-reflecting about the people I was around and the decisions I was making,” Yelaniya said. “I feel that was big for me to be able to go through that situation and grow rather than stay in that spot.”

Yelaniya immediately began taking steps to make improvements. She deleted her social media accounts, became more involved in school activities and boosted her grades in every class. She also began viewing others with more empathy and compassion.
“It definitely made me look at people a lot differently,” Yelaniya said. “Some people can do negative things, but that may not be them in that moment. Going through that made me think, ‘Do I judge people on the first look or judging books by the cover?’ It really made me look at people differently and made me give them opportunities regardless of what they have been through.
“I feel that’s something good to learn at a young age. It gave me the capability to give people second chances, because everybody has a story they can grow from.”
Today, Yelaniya is a Student Council member, serves on Northeast’s student ambassador team, works as a peer mediator and has earned conference basketball awards. She suffered knee and concussion injuries during her athletic career but relied on her determination and strength throughout those times. She played a key role this year on a Northeast team that finished 18-7 and advanced to the District A-7 championship game.

Yelaniya also visits Clinton Elementary School every Wednesday for a volunteer outreach program. Blume said she has been impressed with her choice to inspire younger students with helpful words.
“It was completely Yelaniya’s initiative to do that,” Blume said. “No one prompted her. She just had the drive to go and teach to children. It’s just awesome to see that.”
Yelaniya said it is personally significant to be an elementary mentor. She sat in the same desks at Clinton years ago and cherishes the chance to help today’s Comets succeed.
“I feel like that’s important for them to see that in school,” Yelaniya said. “Seeing someone that went to your elementary school, I probably went to the middle school you’re going to go to, and now I’m going to the high school that you may go to. I feel it’s important to show that representation to them that you’re going to go somewhere in life.”

Yelaniya will continue her journey next year at Peru State College. She earned a full-ride scholarship for both academics and athletics and is planning to become a teacher. Her time with Clinton students has planted the seed of possibly leading elementary classes in the future. She is also considering the option of teaching high school students, as one of her favorite subjects at Northeast is history.
“Education fascinates me,” Yelaniya said. “Being able to learn different things and teach people different things. I’m really interested in that.”
Blume told Yelaniya she was proud of the positive story she was writing for the entire Northeast community.
“You had to discover who you are and rebuild yourself socially, so that’s resilience, and then academically you just kept it up,” Blume said. “It’s amazing. I admire that.”


Congratulations, Yelaniya!

We wish you the best in your future endeavors.

We are thankful our educators could help you Launch at LPS!


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Published: April 15, 2024, Updated: April 16, 2024

Northeast senior Yelaniya smiles outside the front of the high school. She has written a story of resilience and determination throughout her time in the building. She has penned a life script that includes many positive achievements in both academics and activities.